Isaiah 43:18-21 (The Message)
“Forget about what’s happened;
don’t keep going over old history.
Be alert, be present. I’m about to do something brand-new.
It’s bursting out! Don’t you see it?
There it is! I’m making a road through the desert,
rivers in the badlands.
Wild animals will say ‘Thank you!’
—the coyotes and the buzzards—
Because I provided water in the desert,
rivers through the sun-baked earth,
Drinking water for the people I chose,
the people I made especially for myself,
a people custom-made to praise me.
As we go through this transition time, it amazes me, the array of emotions that I am witnessing: hope and excitement to anxiety and fear. I remind myself – don’t be alarmed. It is quite normal in a church setting, I really shouldn’t be surprised. When there is a significant change in leadership, the uncertainty follows until people feel comfortable again that the “constant” they are used to, will eventually come again. I dare say that the same thing happens anywhere…a change including our personal lives. Deep down, even though we know change is important, we want the constant, we want the familiar, we want the certainty.
If we are in the moment, if we are present with God and are alert, we will see something new, if not now, soon. If we stay focused on the road that is being paved right smack in the middle of the desert, we can and will remain hopeful. At the same time however, here is your warning….at the same time that we see the hope and the road ahead, we need to remain patient because other people do not see that road just yet. The emotional ride will be there because hope and promise come early for some and later for others as they deal with their anxiety and rebuild their trust and faith in what is to come. And honestly, some may never build that again and that is ok – it is not our place to build that trust for them…they have to find it for themselves. But we can be there to provide the patience and time that they need, without adding to their anxiety and uncertainty.
What we can do as a staff, as ministers, and as leaders is to provide the constant that we can – patience, a listening ear, and an understanding that everyone deals with change and a shift in the system in their own way. Consider how we have individually handled our own response to the shift. Was it perfect? Was it smooth and settle? Yeah, I didn’t think so. Well, remember that we are just a few…consider that there are many more people responding in their own way.
At some point in time, I do believe that everyone who is willing, I do believe that everyone will be alert and everyone will see the road that is being paved ahead. The coyotes and the buzzards will go away and at some point in time, the “wild animals” will say thank you and that will make the travel worth the effort.
Is it uncertain? Yes. Is it a matter of trust and faith? Absolutely. The road that we travel will not be constant and we all know what – but that’s ok, because the one thing that is constant is God…and for me, that makes all the difference.