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Change: Always a Constant

“There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven – A time to give birth and a time to die; a time to plant and a time to uproot what is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2, NASB).

These are familiar verses to many, popularized by Pete Seeger in the late 1950’s in “Turn! Turn! Turn!” (“To everything there is a season”). For me, the passage resonates on many levels. The autumn air has brought with it first frosts and brilliant foliage colors. Recently, my beloved hit a milestone birthday – honestly, any time we can mark another birthday is cause for celebration!

Our church family moved into its current facility after years of being mobile, beginning in Vienna, then migrating out to Centreville and now in Chantilly. Our children’s ministry director and family pursued their calling in Costa Rica. College students we have known for years left to pursue missions overseas. And our associate pastor and his family took the initiative to plant a new community church. All this has made me pause and reflect on what God is doing in my own life. What will the next chapter or season look like?

Change is the only true constant. Our responses and attitudes toward the winds of change is all that we can control. That’s what I’ve heard through 20-plus years of my career. It’s a good perspective to have in all aspects of life.

I’m used to change. I’m used to uprooting every two or three years. Growing up I learned that “home” was not the structure, but where my family resided. In my profession where I may spend half the time on the road, I have learned to limit my material belongings to a carry-on and personal bag. So I never expected that the church-planting project that was the impetus for such excitement and spiritual growth in me would become a fond memory.

Back then we were challenged to daily walk by faith as we never knew what lay around the corner or who God would bring to our community, and how He would weave this tapestry of multi-ethnicity. We didn’t know what the final picture would look like. We only imagined it would be beautiful and wonderful, a micro-portrayal of heaven’s glory. I suppose all that is no different today. I still walk by faith daily and I still can’t forecast how my day will go or whom I will run into.

But I somehow managed to plant roots without realizing it. When did I become the tree firmly planted by the streams? Really, the more important question is this: am I one who yields her fruit in season, whose leaf does not wither, and in whatever I do, am prospering? (Psalm 1:3, NASB)

At Ambassador (yeah, I’m one of the few who still associates the ABC acronym as “American Born Chinese” as well as hangs onto good old NASB) we’ve been pruned a few times. We have gone through significant leadership shifts. In those days, the song that played in my head went more like this: “Should I stay or should I go?” In case you’re wondering, that’s circa 1982 by The Clash. Well, I’m still plugged in. The fruit has been sweet. Perhaps not what I would have pictured, but then, I am His workmanship (Ephesians 2:10, NASB). I’m merely the clay and not the Master Potter.

Today, I’m at a cross roads again. It’s natural and I ask if it is time to continue letting my roots deepen, or is it time to be pruned and grafted elsewhere?.  I still don’t know how I will answer that question but I am encouraged by the prophet, Jeremiah.

Blessed is the man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is in the Lord. For he will be like a tree planted by the water. That extends its roots by a stream and will not fear when the heat comes; but its leaves will be green, and it will not be anxious in a year of drought nor cease to yield fruit. (Jeremiah 17:7-8, NASB).

Meanwhile Phil Wickham’s “This is Amazing Grace” is playing in the background. “Who brings our chaos back into order? Who makes the orphan a son and daughter? The King of Glory, the King above all kings.”  Who, indeed?

He has made everything appropriate in its time, who set eternity in our hearts although we may not yet understand the work which God has done from the beginning even to the end. (Ecclesiastes 3:11, NASB)