Feel vulnerable? Maybe that's what God wants

Feel vulnerable? Maybe that's what God wants

Alexis De Veaux is an African-American poet, playwright, novelist, lecturer, educator, and performer. In a book given to me by my sister-in-law, Janice, I ran across this quote by De Veaux: To change is to be vulnerable. And to be vulnerable is to be alive.

We live in a world that changes so fast and drastically, it seems to threatens our sanity. Change frightens us, causing us to become defensive. It’s a natural reaction. The thought of altering our routines – a new job, a new computer, or even taking a new route home – can send some of us into panic mode.

The coming year will truly try our faith and challenge us to accept change, if we are to not only survive but also thrive. At noon on Jan. 20, Barack Obama became our 44th president. I am extremely proud of this accomplishment for my country’s sake. Not only did we get a new president, but we received our first African-American president.

At the same time, we entered a year of economic uncertainty, erratic gasoline prices, dramatic reductions in expendable income, staggering job losses, and home foreclosures. Many of us are deferring gifts we waited years to receive.

These changes make us vulnerable. We are not as in control of our lives as we think or would hope. We don’t care to be placed in these situations, but that’s where we are. We’re caught up in a hurricane of change.

Maybe that’s where God wants us to be. Maybe we’ve existed as if we were self sufficient for too long. Could it be that our striving to be Super Women and Super Men have blocked us from being the human beings God created us to be?

Maybe, just maybe, we will discover what it means to be alive, to be human and to be the children of God. I am reminded of the great reformer Martin Luther. In a time of great testing Luther recognized that his adversaries were stronger than he. Faced with defeat, he wrote the hymn, “A Mighty Fortress Is Our God.” It is the second verse of the hymn that most draws my attention:

Did we in our own strength confide, our striving would be losing;
Were not the right man on our side, the man of God’s own choosing;
Dost ask who that may be? Christ Jesus, it is he;
Lord Sabbath, his name, from age to age the same,
And he must win the battle.

If Alex De Veaux is correct, then it is at the point when we recognize our own vulnerability that we begin to experience life the way God intended all along.

Lord, give me the faith to trust you, the courage to walk in uncertain times, and the pioneering spirit I need to enter the future you have prepared for us.

Bishop James Swanson is resident bishop of the Holston Conference of The United Methodist Church.