Looking for the Blessing in Change

“I am about to do a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?” - Isaiah 43:19

While it is a cliche, it is true that, apart from God, the only constant in life is change.

This past weekend our family experienced some events that gave evidence of this truism. First, my youngest daughter, who was just 4 years old when we arrived in 2005, turned 16 years old on Sunday. This fall she will be entering her Junior year in high school and will begin driving by herself. This major milestone in her life signals to me that she will be with us at home only two more years. Life is changing.

Sunday also saw the marriage of my mother-in-law to a wonderful man known by most people in our congregation. It is a joy to see them find happiness with each other following the deaths of each of their spouses. This marriage is a significant turning point in their lives and in the lives of their families. Life is changing.

As I get older, I am beginning to understand that the best response to the ever changing nature of life is to embrace the change and find the blessing that is there rather than resisting the change wishing for the old ways that either are no longer there or are no longer sustainable. Life is constantly changing, and we must learn to adapt positively; or we will get run over by the change.

Seeking the blessing in the change rather than dwelling on the loss that comes with the change is one key to finding the abundant life that Jesus spoke of. I am not suggesting that we shouldn’t grieve over those things we lose because of change; but I am suggesting that we need to be careful not to get stuck on an idealized view of the way things used to be.

With respect to the North American Church, so much has changed even during my brief 26 year ministry. Much of what I learned about leading a church in my seminary education in the 90's is just no longer relevant. The context of our culture and the expectations of church go-ers is vastly different in 2017 than it was in 1991 when I graduated from Union Seminary.

I shudder to think of where I would be had I not learned to adapt and grow in my ministry in response to the ever increasing pace of change in our culture. Most likely, I would not still be a pastor in the church.

However, I will acknowledge that change is hard. It is hard to say goodbye to cherished ways of doing life and ministry that just no longer work. They were so meaningful to us; and we can’t understand why they are not as meaningful to younger generations. This loss must be acknowledged and grieved.

And yet, as I mentioned earlier, when we can find the blessing in the changes that come our way, it is easier to move forward into the new thing that God wants to do in our midst. In my experience, there are always blessings that come with change; some are just harder to see than others. So it is incumbent upon us to work at identifying the blessings that emerge out of change if we truly want to live the abundant life.

My prayer for each of us is that we can properly mourn the losses we have as life changes around us, and yet at the same time embrace the new possibilities and find the blessings in the new thing God is doing.

Grace and peace to each of you.
Your friend and pastor,

Pastor Lee