Winds of Change
We just returned from a wonderful family vacation. We joined my wife’s parents and all her siblings and their kids, along with our kids and grandchildren on a joint family vacation. It was a great time to reconnect.
One of the places we visited was Tulum, the only Mayan ruins established by the shore in an area of Mexico bordering Belize. Wanda and I visited there some 13 years ago and back then we went prepared to visit Mayan sites but we were not informed enough to know that they had a beautiful beach with crystal blue waters. I remember it as picturesque and inviting.
So this time, we took our two children and grandchildren, and we prepared to see the Mayan ruins and enjoy an afternoon on the beach. Only to learn that the beach has disappeared. The tour guide exclaimed, “Climate change is real,” and explained that the waters have been rising and the sea has reclaimed its land, so the beach is gone. The waters come right up to the cliff and to make matters worse, the area has been infested with some type of invasive sea weed that makes the water look brown and releases a foul fishy smell.
Therefore there was no day at the beach. We enjoyed the ruins, basked in the hot sun and eventually found our way to a nice family restaurant where we enjoyed good ol’ fashioned Mexican food.
As I reflect on this experience I am drawn to two lessons learned.
The first is, the planet is changing and things are happening all around. The city of Miami is slowly being encroached by seawater and the waters are rising. Whether this is the result of thousands of years of climactic cycles or warming instigated by increase carbon pollution initiated by humans is yet to conclusively be determined, at least to the common person. I say this because I believe most people don't really know what to believe because we’ve learned not to trust the science of some corporations while at the same time not trust the prophetic calls of some self-proclaimed environmental prophets.
Regardless of the absolute causes, the reality remains that within our Christian theology we believe that God gave us this planet for two reasons. To testify to his glory (Romans 1:18-19) and it has been given to us for our needs and for our care (Psalms 115:6). So regardless of the exact causes of climactic variances, we need to treat our planet with care and intention. We can’t treat it as a consumable, but like in so many other things, we need to be relational with it. God created it, not so we worship it, but so we can relate to it and nurture it. We need to care for it in a spirit of thankfulness to God and for practical & stewardship purposes that it may continue to provide for the generations to come. It’s ours to pass on.
The second lesson learned from this trip to Tulum is how to deal with change. The beauty of the beach of years past had stayed with me, so I was exuberantly excited to share it with my grandchildren. I was so disappointed that they couldn't enjoy what I enjoyed from afar. I had hoped to frolic in the waters with them and watch their faces as they were to be as impressed as I was.
However, it wasn’t meant to be so. Our experience is a different one now and so we must adapt. It doesn't make my experience with the family and less valuable or important. The real value is in enjoying one another and learning to enjoy what we have here and now.
In counseling, I find people often get stuck in not being able to follow through on what they perceived. What I mean by “getting stuck” is that interpret the change as some of form of injustice against them and so they park their emotions in being disappointed, angry or resentful of the change. In doing so, they fester in their emotions and grow in resentment. They act like the change was a personal affront to them or their memories.
I see this in church life. People tend to resent changes in church culture or life. They see it as the church leadership taking something away from them, rather than seeing it as a growth progression or desire to cultivate new relationships. So instead of enjoying the fellowship, the new experience they resist it and tend to pout spiritually thus cheating themselves of the value of the new experience.
I am reminded in Psalms 103, “Praise the Lord, all his heavenly hosts, you his servants who do His will. Praise the Lord, all His works everywhere in His dominion. Praise the Lord, O my soul.”
Nothing is owed us, yet all is given to us by God. As we move forward in life lets take the time to honor what we have, to be relational with God’s creation and care for it, to flow with the winds of change and seek to see God’s presence in what is new, and most of all, use every opportunity – whether its how you remember it or like it or not – and Praise the Lord, O my soul!