"What’s so funny about peace, love and understanding?" Nick Lowe once asked us this question. When he did not get an answer Elvis Costello asked again. Still, we have no answer. How about a different question? What’s so tough about transitions? Or why is it so hard to go through change in the church?
The truth about transition is that none of us really like it. It may be that we do not like where we are, and it may even that we are excited about where we are going. The time in between, however, makes a rough road. During this time, as we move out of our old fellowship hall and wait for our new fellowship hall, we might experience that rough road. My question for you is this, do we have to? Or, better yet, do we have to make it more difficult?
Transitions are difficult, even the best transitions. Look at Moses leading the Israelites through the wilderness. Certainly no one wanted to stay a slave in Egypt, and surely they wanted life in their own God-given land. In Exodus 15, minutes after they have passed safely through the Red Sea and begun their journey to God’s Promised Land, Moses and the Israelites sing, “I will sing to the Lord, for he has triumphed gloriously; horse and rider he has thrown into the sea.” They begin their journey with fanfare and song. They are excited, at first. Then they set out from the Red Sea and make it three whole days – THREE DAYS! That is it, only three days. They complain to Moses that the water is bitter and undrinkable and thus begins the cycle of complaint stories. They made it three days into what would turn into a forty year journey, before they began to lose their faith in God, to lose their trust in God.
Their journey was not easy, and it was not without times of doubt and grumbling and anger. In the forty years, they fought amongst themselves, doubted the Word of God, doubted their leader, and even lost some along the way. And yet, they made it. They made it to the Promised Land, the land God promised to Abraham, and renewed in promise to Isaac and to Jacob.
Our building journey may not be easy, but I believe God is faithful. God has called us as His church in Lakehills for a purpose. He has plans for us. He wants to work miracles through us. We have been planning this fellowship hall for twenty-two years. Did you realize that? Twenty-two years? Now, the plans are coming together. We will begin demolition of the current fellowship hall within the next two months. It is beginning to look less and less like a plan and more and more like an action. Now, it is real. Now we have crossed the Red Sea. I suppose we could begin complaining now. We let our focus dilute to free-floating nothingness. We can fall victim to the idolatry of self – if we’re not doing it my way, I want no part of it. We can fall victim to the immorality of relationships that is refusing to follow Jesus’ commandment to love one another as Christ has loved us. We can act like children, demanding that God obey us, bless what we want to do, and refuse to seek God’s guidance. We can withhold grace from one another. We can harbor anger with each other along the way. We can do all of these, but these actions do not lead to God’s will on earth as it is in heaven.
We can decide how we will handle this time of transition. We can work together, or we can fall apart. My prayer for our congregation is that we will dismiss our hermeneutic of suspicion – that is we will believe that everyone in the congregation is also seeking to accomplish what God has called us to do. We can believe that we are on the same side. We will believe the best about one another. And we will trust that God is with us on this journey, and God is guiding us on this journey. That is how we can make it through the wilderness of transition. We will seek the direction of God, and we will seek the best in one another.