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Center Reflections

On Moving On

It’s moving season in the United Methodist church. For some of us, just reading that sentence is enough to make our palms sweat—or worse!  We’ve all moved—for lots of different reasons. Most of us have dreaded a move or two—whether we were leaving the security of our parents’ home to strike out on our own, or leaving a community that had been home to us and we can’t really imagine another spot replacing it.

          Part of me says, “It has to happen, buck up and get it done.” The opportunity for rest is on the far side of the move, so to get to it, you have to go through it! Another part of me gets a little nauseous at the thought: all those boxes, all that precious “stuff” that really isn’t all that precious at all, so why do I insist on dragging it through life with me? All the decisions to make: Where will the rocker go? What about the blanket box? And the mail that has to be rerouted to our new address. Somehow, in the grand scheme of things, that is my last straw!  Did I forget to mention the possibilities of new schools, new doctors, new banks, new hairdressers?  And then, there is even a new congregation in the mix.

          Having come through a move or two, I have been given the gift of a broadened perspective—sometimes!  God has shown me that each of the moves I made seemed to have a purpose in Him. Whether it was leaving the megalopolis for a two-point charge or leaving a community we loved for a part of the state we’d barely driven through, in time we came to see why we were there. God is like that, isn’t He?  God invites—sometimes insists—that we shake off our comfort and get some skin in His game. He can’t stretch us, or prune us, or use us unless we’re open to the movement of the Spirit in our lives!

          You see, God calls us to “Go!” Like Abraham, like Moses, like Paul, we are challenged to be obedient—trusting that God will give us what we need along the way and in the new place. It isn’t easy. I can’t imagine it was any easier for the patriarchs, or the Israelites, or the early church fathers and mothers. Given the chance, God will use us wherever we are, but when He asks us to move–whether it’s a mile or a muscle or a mind—God can accomplish something through us if we do it!

          It is only after we’ve moved that we have any chance of recognizing the “Why?” of it. God requires obedience—and faith—and time.  Then one day, we are given a view of God’s big picture. We can see why that move was necessary—for ourselves, or our family, or our world. If we can get ourselves to a point of obedience and trust—without sleepless nights, but with a quiet confidence that God is at work even in this—we are in a better position to be used.

          Jesus said it too. “Go! And make disciples…”  Sometimes, to do the latter, you have to do the first part!

          If there is a move in your future, whether you’re a pastor moving to a new congregation or someone who will be moving into a bigger place or a smaller place or to start a new job, take Joshua’s words to the Israelites into your heart:  “Be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for I the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” If you believe that—and keep it before your eyes as you pack, and plan, and reroute that mail—you will be ready when God calls with work to do!  And if you stay tuned in to Him, He will show you the change that was possible because you obeyed, and changed.

          Have you ever experienced a move? Reflect on the many emotions and thoughts you encountered – where did you find the hand of God? Where might you have overlooked the hand of God?

          If you’ve never moved, or haven’t moved lately, how might you be a place of welcome for one who has just relocated into your midst, whether as a pastoral family in your church or a new family in your community? 

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