I bought my house in Milford about four years ago. I liked it for many reasons, one of which was that it was in a growing, family neighborhood. The housing development was actually only about 12 years old then, and there were several dirt roads cut out that would become streets in the future. Some of those streets, 4 years later, now have pavement and new houses where young families are just beginning to write their life stories. Babies are being born, children ride their bicycles and skateboards in the streets. It is a neighborhood where there is a lot of life and a lot of change!
There is one particular dirt road that runs along the edge of a hillside. It was there 4 years ago, and only now is the developer turning his attention to it. While I don’t honestly know the reason it has taken him this long, I think that it could be because part of the rock hillside needed to be removed in order to move this project forward. It is a big, expensive, labor intensive undertaking to be sure!
The other day, when I was walking by the Caterpillar excavator and dump trucks that were removing the previously dynamited stone on this road, I was impressed by the fact that humans can actually “move mountains” in order to achieve a goal. I could also see that the road was a total mess!The excavator was picking up huge pieces of granite, lifting them high, and dropping them to try and break them into smaller pieces of granite that could be loaded onto the trucks and carried away.
What was once a dominating rock wall along the edge of a dirt road, was now being turned into small pieces and being carried away. Just like that! A new rock wall face has emerged, set back many feet from the road. The whole appearance of this natural landscape is being changed!
This reminds me of another story about change. Many years ago, I hired a company to clear some trees from my heavily wooded acres. When the logger came to my door with a hard-hat and chainsaw, I asked him about the mess he and his company would make of my yard, removing the 40 + trees we had marked. He casually responded in this way: “you have to crack a few eggs if you want to make an omelet!” This was not very reassuring. Well, they definitely made a mess, but there was really no other way to get the job done!
New life by its very nature, is a force of change. And it makes a mess! When we find ourselves in the midst of such change, it makes us uncomfortable. We may even become disoriented, for what was previously there may be gone and we don’t yet know what new thing will appear. We are not fond of such discomfort. In fact, our usual response is to try and figure out how to end it as quickly as possible and restore order to our lives!
The Hebrew people encountered numerous experiences of change and disorientation. You know the stories – their Exodus from Egypt out of slavery followed by their wandering in the desert for 40 years. The prophets also tell stories of battles and kingdoms conquered and Israel’s exile to Babylon. Have you ever thought about how whole generations actually lived in a state of disorientation? What a mess!
There were a few ways they approached their situations. Some turned away from God. Others turned away from their community. And others, as the prophets testify, chose to “wait for the Lord.” This was not easy, yet they knew that God was doing a new thing with them.
The call to “wait for the Lord” is a helpful encouragement for us today, to remain faithful to God’s promises and God’s faithfulness to us. This is true for all of our times and circumstances…and it is especially true for us now, as a church in the midst of transition.
Such waiting can be difficult. Anxieties creep in and can even distract us from our faithfulness. And sometimes in our hurry to relieve our present discomfort, we can deny ourselves important life-renewing experiences. We may deny ourselves time to grieve. Or we may deny ourselves time to let go of things we no longer need for the next stage of our journey. We may even deny ourselves the potential to receive gifts of growth and new life that transition can bring.
As we return from our summer wanderings and begin planning for the Fall, I think it could be helpful for us to hold the prophets’ encouragement in our hearts, and “wait for the Lord.” For I believe God is preparing to unfold a new thing in our church. And while we wait, let us not forget that new life doesn’t happen without first making a mess!
Thank goodness Jesus journeys with us through it all!
Yours in Christ’s Service,
Rev. Linda C. Hey