Monday, October 24, 2005

Hope Through Transitions

"Happy are those who are helped by the God of Jacob. Their hope is in the Lord their God." Psalm 146:5

Fall is awash in glorious color as the days get shorter, the nights cooler and the air definitely crisper. I always find fall to be a sort of melancholy season for me. Winter is not my favourite of the four seasons, and fall is an ever present reminder that winter is around the corner. Fall is the transition season. In this neck of the woods it often transitions all too quickly. One day, warm and bright and colourful and the next morning a cold, wet snowy bleakness perches on the doorstep. No matter how many years I’ve been around, winter always catches me by surprise.

I find this fall to be a particularly bittersweet transition time for our church and our community. We started the season with great joy over the much anticipated start of construction of our new church home. As we neared the end of September, we faced shock and upset at the announcement of shutdowns and layoffs at Norampac. Many of our friends and loved ones are trying to navigate through some major decisions and questions right now.

Life is an ever constant transition, from the time we are born until the time we die. One look at our physical bodies is enough to remind us of these changes as we age. Christians know that our souls are constantly changing too, as the Holy Spirit works on our hearts and makes us “new creations in Christ”. ("Though our outer nature is wasting away, our inner nature is being renewed day by day." 2 Corinthians 4:16) Every transition is both a small “birth” and a small “death” as something old makes way for something new.

While we cannot live completely static lives and escape these transitions all together, and God does not promise a perfectly smooth life, it is important to remember a couple of things God does promise or provide for us.

1) God promises us comfort. He has given us the Holy Spirit as our comforter. In John 14:16 we read "I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper (or Comforter, or Counselor) to be with you forever." God knows what we are going through and He will comfort us. Psalm 34:18 says "The Lord is close to the brokenhearted, and he saves those whose spirits have been crushed."

2) God has a plan for us. Jeremiah 29:11, "For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future." Note that this verse says “I know the plans I have for you” (emphasis on I). Not “you know” nor does it promise to “I will tell you exactly what those plans are”. Simply “I know”. God knows, God is in control. We are asked to trust in God’s plan. It’s a scary kind of trust, a leap of faith, a belief that “Father really does know best”.

We have to remember as well that everyone responds to transitions differently. Some people embrace change, running headlong into it with arms wide open and leaps of joy. Others stick their feet firmly on the ground, cross their arms, and begin to chant “We shall not be moved”. Most of us fall somewhere in the middle of these two. Let us continue to pray for each other, uplift each other and comfort each other, reminding ourselves that seasons come and go and but God is our ever present hope, comfort and strength.

"I pray that Christ will live in your hearts by faith and that your life will be strong in love and be built on love. And I pray that you all God's holy people will have the power to understand the greatness of Christ's love - how wide and how long and how high and how deep that love is. Christ's love is greater than anyone can ever know, but I pray that you will be able to know that love. Then you can be filled with the fullness of God. With God's power working in us, God can do much, much more than anything we can ask or imagine. To him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus for all time, forever and ever. Amen" Ephesians 3:14-21 * o

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