Through the Word in 2020 #72 – July 10 / Change isn’t a 4 letter word

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I don’t know about you, but speaking for myself, I resist change. The older I get, the more I seem to resist it. I get used to and come to like the way things are.
Of course this is a tendency which has to be resisted itself, for it militates against the continual growth and change in the image of Christ all of His children are called to. A life of perpetual change in being made more and more like Him.
We unconsciously imagine our attitude toward spiritual maturity should correspond more directly to our attitude toward physical maturity with its unpleasant prospects of decline. We forget that our present declines are only for the season we spend in our present physical bodies – and that we have an eternity before us, not the few decades or less we might be facing now. More on that in a minute on Through the Word in 2020 – I’m Reid Ferguson.
Today’s readings bring us to: Philippians 4:21–Colossians 1:2; Psalm 110; Luke 6:1–11; 1 Chronicles 23–27.
1 Chronicles 23:26 makes a most interesting observation. For hundreds of years, since the Israelites first came out of Egypt, God appointed the Levites over the administration of His tabernacle. One set of those Levites had a special job: to carry the tabernacle and all its furnishings and equipment wherever the Lord led them next. Now, they were settled in the Promised Land and Solomon was about to build a permanent Temple. And these Levites it seems were out of a job.
What were they to do? Were they now useless? Antiquated? It was a new day. Things had changed drastically. They were going to have to find a new focus, when their entire sense of identity had been wrapped up in this one thing for generations.
By way of the immediate context, the issue here points to an important principle for those of us in ministry. I wrestle with it now in contemplating my own impending retirement from a pastoral role.
Those who have God appointed ministries MUST not think them so absolute, as to think a shift in efforts is somehow a loss or demotion. As times and circumstances change, so might the focus of those once committed to a certain kind of ministry shift to another. This is right and good. It is sad that many who have filled pastoral rolls, find themselves somewhat lost when time and circumstances mean they cannot serve in that same capacity any longer. They often see it as becoming useless. But it is not so.
But this issue is not faced by those in ministry alone. Many a man after a long career in the workplace finds a severe disorientation upon retirement. No longer the “breadwinner” – how is one to think of themselves? Or that Mom who has devoted all of her life to raising children – now finding herself an empty-nester. Widows and widowers. The newly disabled or declining who can no longer serve and do as they once did.
These can be harrowing times in life. But here we see the principle. As the Levites did, so we – we learn to accept these changes in focus and settle upon new avenues of service. We embrace them as the next steps toward the eternity just before us, rather than the loss of what was never meant to be permanent anyway. We grow.
Oh to receive God’s gracious seasons with grace ourselves. To learn to pray: Father, as you have brought me to this new place, use me as will best serve your Kingdom: However and in whatever capacity in your perfect wisdom you determine that to be.
He is not done with you Christian, wherever you are. He’s just led you to the next step. Seize it by faith.
God willing, we’ll be back next Monday.

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