Recognizing Opportunities in the Familiar

Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland. Isaiah 43:18-19`

If I tell you that one of the biggest threats to stepping into a life of power and freedom in the Lord was familiarity and comfort, I don`t imagine I`d get too much objection. However, on a day-to-day basis there are many areas of our life that we accept as fixed or unchangeable simply because that`s the way it`s always been.

There`s an interesting thing about the concept of change though. We like things to be consistent and orderly. This is good, because God is consistent and orderly and when we consider change it’s helpful to find comfort in His familiarity. Many people get nervous about things like rearranging their closet, never mind something more dramatic like adopting new technology or a house move or change in work. A big reason for this is because we approach these decisions with our current level of thinking. We try to imagine what the new way will be like based on our experience with our current way of doing something.

Let me give you an example of how difficult change really is. My family recently moved from our home of 11 years. The packing process meant pulling everything from the places it had been kept for so many years. This required an evaluation of every little item including paperclips that `lived` in our old home. We were moving to temporary accommodations so the decision-making process had to consider whether we might need or want something with us in our temporary accommodations; whether it would be packed in a big steal container until God brought us to our next home; or whether we might require an item later once we were more settled (seasonal items for example). We also had the decisions about whether something should be given away, sold, or tossed.

Overall, packing was a daunting task, yet was also a fabulous opportunity to connect the items in our home with their history, purpose and value. We were moving to pursue the Lord`s call so the packing process was also a fabulous opportunity to ask Him to lead in terms of what He wanted us to do with each of the items we uprooted from their comfortable, familiar place in our home.

We have had to learn to think differently about everyday things that were comfortable and familiar. Our current thinking and habits simply didn’t work in our new environment. Changing your physical surroundings or your current environment won’t change your thinking. You have to adapt and you won’t truly know what’s going to belong where or be required until you arrive at your new destination. Then your old habits don’t change easily.

Here’s what’s interesting about the unpacking process in our move. When you remove something from its comfortable and familiar place it needs a new place to ‘live’ in your new environment. This requires another level of decision-making about what and where and how are you going to store and sort your belongings. In our new temporary, and much smaller home some of the familiar places from our old much larger home simply didn’t exist. We have no bathroom drawers for example; our dishes now ‘live’ in a drawer rather than a cupboard; and most of the tools and household maintenance items simply had no room here so had to find a new ‘home’ in a storage locker that`s not even on the property. I am still reaching for the dishes in the cupboard despite them now ‘living’ in a drawer, and when our family is talking about where we might find a new toothbrush, we will refer to the bathroom drawer where they used to ‘live’ despite the new reality that those type of things are now ‘living’ in a wooden box on the counter.

You think a certain way because your experiences and learning have taught you and you are comfortable thinking this way. It’s a habit like any other habit, except that it’s not one that most people even think about changing. They think about changing things from the outside so they might experience different results, but they will still be thinking the same way. This means they will quite possibly never truly experience the results because looking at a major change in circumstances to change your life is actually looking at your life from the perspective of lacking something. This gap will usually stop people from taking the first step. This is why it’s important to take baby steps and to cultivate your relationship with the Lord through the baby steps so your thoughts and habits and actions can line up with His, one everyday activity at a time.

If you’re looking at how things are going to be different in a new environment from the perspective of how they are today, it’s almost impossible to fully grasp the magnitude of little decisions and changes that have to be made to arrive at the new destination. When God tells us to ‘forget the former things and not to dwell on the past’ He knows that it will be hard to perceive the new things that He ‘springs up’ if we are looking for big dramatic neon lights of ‘new’ rather than listening for His ongoing whispers throughout our day.

We are accustomed to thinking and acting in a certain way so when we begin to look for Him in the everyday mundane minutia of daily activities we actually do find Him ‘NOW’ springing forth new ideas and possibilities. Our everyday routine of life is actually an amazing way to connect with Him but it does require ongoing small changes in order to break out of familiar patterns of thinking and acting.

Overtime, within the context of daily activity He will help you to rethink, and renew your thinking and also your results – no matter how small or insignificant the change or results might seem at the time. Some great areas in finance that you can start to move out of your former patterns of behaviour might be:

  • Where and how you deal with your mail?
  • Who, and how often do you talk with someone about your finances?
  • How and when you pay your bills?
  • How often and where do you look at your banking, credit cards, investments, and other financial statements?
  • What is the first thing you ‘feed’ your mind in the morning and what is the last thing you look at before you turn the light out at night?
  • What interests and desires occupy your time and thoughts? Can you think of different ways that people have or do, or could earn income from this are of interest? Can you, or could you also potentially earn income from your passions?
  • What are the causes that you see or read about that speak to your heart? Can you think of possible ways you be able to contribute to this cause in addition to financially?
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