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Shifting Landscapes

December 8, 2015

The old adage is that “the only constant is change.”   At timsliderbar-omba2013es change is very hard and yet other times it is understood and accepted.  A few years ago we were back in the town where we spent the first 15 years of our married life.   It was the place where all three of our children were born.  It was a place where I could leave the house, and in 20 minutes be all settled in a tree stand waiting for a hapless deer to wander by.  As we drove into town I noticed immediately that the landscape had changed drastically.  The farm where I had hunted with my friend had been sold.  As we drove by I did a bit of a double take as in the place of the groves of trees and the large cornfields, were industrial type buildings.  The landscape had changed and I am not certain I have fully adjusted.

In the next few weeks the landscape of our lives as a family will change.  Unlike the shock of finding my old hunting ground being sold, we have had time to adjust and prepare for these changes and we welcome them.  The first change is what one may call an addition.  By God’s grace I will have the privilege of performing the wedding ceremony of our son David to Sarah, a wonderful, godly young lady.  Over the past few years as they have dated we have seen the character and quality of this couple grow and develop and we are excited for this change.  Their potential to be used of God in a variety of ways is truly unlimited.

The second change is somewhat different.  Just two days after Dave and Sarah are married, our daughter Jessica and her husband Jason and our cute little Maddie will leave for Mexico where God has called them to serve.  I don’t call it a loss, it is a change.  As parents we prayed for our children to come to know Jesus and then to follow him on whatever life path he chose.  So we celebrate this change as our children step out in faith and obedience to minister to a people group that most of the world has largely forgotten.

Their journey has brought a third change in the landscape of my own life.  It is a change of attitude in how we do things like supporting missionaries.  When Jess and Jason first started this journey of serving God as missionaries I was a bit frustrated with the process.  Why did they have to raise support?  Why couldn’t there just be a way that they could be paid a salary?  Why do we think this antiquated way of making missionaries “beg for money” is good?  Why did I not become part of a denomination through which they could just fill out an application and hit the road?

But now just weeks before they depart, I have had a change in the landscape of my heart.  Oh I am still frustrated with the reality that increasingly it seems that local churches don’t get behind “career” missionaries.  And I still think we ought to find ways to make this process easier. But I have also seen how through the two plus years of praying, waiting, contacting, connecting, asking, re-connecting, presenting, praying and waiting some more; how God has grown them, and me.  Had we just cut a check for an annual salary and sent them on their way, there would be so many people who would not be part of the process.  Had we just approved a job application, the sense of dependence on the Lord for each step and each provision would have been minimized if not lost altogether.  Had they just had the freedom to pack up and hit the road, our church would not have had to think about our responsibilities as a sending church.  Had we not walked this journey with them I would not be thinking right now more deeply about God’s role in each of our lives.

Long before we arrived at this point God was already aware of the changes in the landscape of our lives that would be taking place.  Like a divine architect he was involved each step of the process as he was connecting us with people who would advise and influence us.  He was tweaking his design for our lives as he was nudging our hearts and providing experiences that would prepare us for his work, and these releases.  He was showing us his great wisdom and guidance as expressed in Proverbs 16:9  In his heart a man plans his course, but the LORD determines his steps.  Because the Lord has determined our steps and been gracious with our stumbles, we can celebrate the changes in the landscape of our lives and look forward to what he will build that will ultimately bring glory and honor to His name.  While change may be constant, I take great comfort in the constant reality of a God who never changes upon whom I can depend when the landscape of my life shifts.

 

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