It’s been a while since I’ve blogged. Okay, a long time. It’s partially due to a crazy schedule over the past several months, and partly because I was processing so much change-management information in my little pea-brain I couldn't do much else.
But now I’m absolutely thrilled that Rob King is here and leading Vineyard Cincinnati in the senior pastor role. His initial introduction can be seen here and for the last two weeks he’s been bringing the heat! I’ll continue on staff, serving Rob in a background role, but with no leadership responsibilities here, including stepping off the trustee board. I’ll continue functioning as a regional leader for Vineyard USA.
Rob just finished up a series called Changeup designed especially for this transition. In baseball, a changeup is a unique off-speed pitch disguised as a fastball. It simply throws the batter off. And the truth is: sometimes life throws us a changeup. And you swing at it. Several times.
The series was intended to help us learn to lean into Jesus when change—invited or not—comes barreling across our home plate. But think about it: there is no growth without change…whether that’s physical, emotional or spiritual growth.
Think of your own life: you were once a comfortable little fetus forming in your mother’s womb. And then after a few months things began to get uncomfortably tight and claustrophobic. You placed a few good kicks…but no one seemed to do anything. Still, it was warm, dark, quiet, comfy and cozy, barring the occasional burrito.
But one day you’re sitting in your living womb and the landlord decides you’re getting too big for your britches (despite being naked) and muscles begin contracting and fluids shift and you suddenly find your head squished as you’re squeezed through a narrow canal and pushed out into a cold, fluorescent-lit room with people in masks slapping your bottom and cutting the cord that connects you to life…and putting a really ugly pastel cap on your head.
Or climbing up the steps of the big yellow bus that would take you to kindergarten and away from your family and more importantly your toys.
Or that first day of gym class.
Or the dreaded SAT test days.
Or the day you left home in a fifteen-year old Corolla with all your earthly belongings in the back seat and trunk.
And here you are today. You made it. Changed.
The Bible says in a no-nonsense voice that: For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven. And there are seasons for what God proposes to do on Planet Earth. It’s interesting in the Bible that in the major events God initiates to roll out His will—those “hinge points”, to quote Thomas Cahill—it always involved a human being who would make themselves available to God…Who leads them through revolutionary change.
What change might you be going through? How are you handling/managing/avoiding/embracing it? And who’s going through it with you? That may be the most important question, perhaps even more than how you’re managing it. At the risk of sounding trite and formulaic, are you inviting Jesus to walk with you during the change?
It was the Jewish prophet Isaiah who captured these words from God: “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze” (Isaiah 43:2). But keep in mind that life for the prophet didn’t reflect how we would interpret those verses. Traditionally, it’s believed that under the corrupt king Manasseh, Isaiah was executed by being forced into a hollow log and sawn in two. Where was the supposed protection? What’s wrong with that picture?
It depends how sharp your vision is and how far you’re willing to look into your future. Jesus described a curious viewpoint for considering God’s “protection”. He said, “Don’t be afraid of those who want to kill your body (uh, doesn’t being killed sound just a little unprotected?); they cannot touch your soul (oh! I get it now...that's worth protecting). Fear only God, who can destroy both soul and body in hell. What is the price of two sparrows—one copper coin? But not a single sparrow can fall to the ground without your Father knowing it.” (Matthew 10:28-29)
Meditate on the connection of those sentences for a few years. Whew!
Here’s the deal: If we’re being shaped for God's purposes, not to mention eternity, we have to adjust how we view our current contexts. Who’s helping you adjust your vision? Who’s in the change with you? Wouldn’t it make sense for that to be God, the deeply personal and protector-of-our-souls God who focuses our vision on a Distant Country?