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Unexpected Change

By Pastor Tom Anderson

It’s been said that nobody likes change except wet babies. Some changes are planned, like getting a diploma and moving on in life. Some changes are strategic--like starting an exercise regime. Some changes can actually be counted on--like the next election cycle. But all changes do the same thing: they require new responsibilities, new habits and new practices--along with leaving some behind. In every change we are displaced, disoriented and unsettled--like the frenzy unleashed when one kicks an ant hill. I can honestly say the best moments of my life all involve dramatic change: graduation, marriage, the birth of a child. In each case it was painful to let go of what I was in order to become something greater.

I was studying Psalm 23 with it’s powerful message of radical dependence on God to provide the necessities of life. Scholars observe that the Psalm uses God’s name--Yahweh-- in the opening and closing verse to emphasize how we are surrounded by God as we walk through the “valley of the shadow of death” in the center of the Psalm. The Psalm veritably screams, “Fear not! Trust! Rely! Depend on the sufficiency of God who is your Shepherd!”

In the midst of this research, the phone rang. It was our student ministry director Brody calling to inform me he would be leaving to take a job with another church in Cincinnati. He did not seek them, they sought him. After a time of prayer and reflection Brody concluded this change was of God.

I felt like I do when a tire blows out on the highway--shock, denial, panic. Then I remembered the commentaries on Psalm 23 open in front of me. It was the Word of God to me: Fear not! Depend upon the Good Shepherd. My winds ceased and my waters calmed. What God said to me that afternoon I believe he says to all of us. God will lead us through this valley.

Every change is a call to prayer. It’s important to give thanks for the good things that have been. It’s important to pray for God’s preferred future to be realized among us. It’s important to recommit ourselves to following Jesus and expanding his mission to make disciples among students in our community.

Here’s what I am committed to: I am committed to not losing the momentum we’ve built in our student ministry. I am committed to seeing the small-group strategy blossom. I am committed to completing the planned renovations in the lower level of the FLC and I am committed to recruiting and hiring a new student ministries director by September. The staff-parish members, adult youth leaders and parents have already begun to meet to review our job description and create a plan for recruiting, interviewing and hiring. It’s my prayer that our existing volunteers can carry out our summer schedule. If you’d like to help, please contact me.

Every change is a summons from Jesus, “Follow me” With blessed assurance, that is what I intend to do!


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