There are not many movies I think about on a regular basis from the 1990s, outside of Braveheart and Austin Powers (if that gives you a snapshot inside my brain). But there is one movie from the 1990s that I hated when I first watched it, but I still think about it far too often. That movie is Groundhog Day. It is a movie starring Bill Murray where he gets stuck reliving February 2, Groundhog Day, over and over again. It’s quite annoying and even a little nightmarish when you think about it. Eventually, Murray’s character starts to use his knowledge of how the day will unfold to his advantage and eventually breaks the loop when he falls in love with a woman named Rita, played by Andie MacDowell.
But what got me thinking about Groundhog Day recently is that I feel like most of us want to live in a world similar to the one portrayed in this movie. It is a nightmare when I’m watching it in a movie, but most of my daily activities center upon not upsetting my normal routine. Go through your normal daily routines and figure out how many times you intentionally break your cycles in order to spice up your day. If you are anything like me, you complain that there are “no good restaurants” in town mainly because you cycle through the same three and order the same meal at each restaurant. Even though change is necessary for growth, we don’t naturally like it so we don’t build it into our lives.
Our entire universe operates on cycles, and I believe God made it that way intentionally. We have days, weeks, months and years because of this unique design. This design also creates four natural seasons (unless you live in Texas, where there are only two seasons). But because our world operates on these cycles and is built with a pattern, our natural tendency is to make our lives into a functional Groundhog Day. I have noticed recently that when I feel most stressed or have the most anxiety is when one of my normal life routines gets broken up. What upsets me most in my life is when my normal patterns get disrupted.
Because God is the Author and Creator of all things, I believe He knows that we need new things that break our normal pattern and upset our equilibrium. I find it to be fascinating that God is often more “forward thinking” than His followers are. Most devout Christians talk a lot about “going back.” We need to get back to how we used to do things, back to the “glory days” of the 1950s, the Reformation, or the New Testament Church in Acts. But Scripture often describes God as the one calling us into the future. Here are just a few examples of Scripture:
- “See, the former things have taken place, and new things I declare; before they spring into being I announce them to you.” (Isaiah 42:9 NIV)
- “See, I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.” (Isaiah 43:19 NIV)
- “Behold, I will create new heavens and a new earth. The former things will not be remembered, nor will they come to mind.” (Isaiah 65:17 NIV)
- “The time is coming,” declares the LORD, “when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.” (Jeremiah 31:31 NIV)
- “I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh.” (Ezekiel 36:26 NIV)
- “He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”” (Revelation 21:5 NIV)
When I was in school, I heard that it was good to break up the pattern of your normal grooming habits so that you can keep your brain sharp. What I was told was that our brain goes on autopilot during these activities when we’ve figured out the routine. So, we brush our teeth the same way in the same pattern with the same hand everyday and we are zoned out during this time period. Think about it: We have our normal shower routine, our normal shaving routine, our normal bedtime routine…you get the idea. While these normal routines are not bad in themselves, over the long haul they do make us less creative and sharp mentally.
There are two people I have learned a lot from reading their works when it comes to creativity and forcing change into my life. Those people are Leonard Sweet and Robert Fritz. Leonard Sweet has built into his life a habit of change by doing two things: He will go up to movie theatre ticket window and buy a ticket to the next movie showing no matter what it is. He will also buy the first book he sees in the airport and read it while traveling no matter the subject matter. This is how he builds change into his life. Robert Fritz will take no longer than 15 to 20 seconds to look at a menu when eating out before selecting what he wants to eat. In both cases, these men have said sometimes you get some great choices and sometimes you get some duds. I think, “What could be worse than wasting money and time sitting through a terrible movie?” They think, “What could be worse than being stuck in a rut for my entire life and not being open to new experiences?”
This weekend at Harris Creek we are going to talk about the dynamics of God doing a new thing amongst His people while looking at Numbers 14. Over the next few months I can guarantee you that we will try some new things in worship. Sometimes they may be great changes. Sometimes they may flop. But my prayer is that we would be open to God doing a new thing amongst us as He calls us into the future that He has planned for our congregation.