While hanging out with friends and discussing changes in our church and in our community, I was reminded about how resistant people are toward change. Talking about change unfurls feathers and causes stress. This impulsive reaction ignores the fact that most of the things we were doing that night were a result of changes. We were having fun with a game that was made in 1989. We were watching a show made in 2007 to spur discussion on equipment that wasn’t around thirty years ago. And yet in the midst of enjoying all these new things, all these changes, the idea that change was bad was still being expressed.
Many of the things that we truly enjoy were started in the last ten to twenty years. I go down to the park with my children and enjoy the playground. That was a change that became reality in October 2005. A change that came about from the result of the hard work of many. Then I look at the library. That didn’t open up until 1991. Nearly everything we enjoy in our community was a change at one time that probably faced resistance and required a lot of hard work. I look around and I see others working hard on changes that will impact the future. From planting new trees in the park to replace the dying ash trees to the people hard at work on the youth center to a new program at the school, tomorrow will be a better place because of the hard work of people who are bringing about change today.
Maybe change would be more palatable if we would sugar-coat the word “change” by calling it “improvements.” Whatever we want to label the concept of making things different tomorrow than they are today, it is all still the same. It is always difficult to bring about. It will always face opposition, but it is always necessary.
What legacy are we going to leave for future generations? I look at the hard work of the people who have come before and made this community the great place it is to live in today. That didn’t just happen by accident. That also didn’t happen without change.
The natural state of things is decay. If left untouched, our towns and churches would slowly dwindle. I look around and miss some things from my childhood. I miss the Ice Cream Depot, Dana providing living wage jobs in our community, and Ray’s Restaurant down on the corner. The sad reality is that a town or a church building can exist long after the life and community has left.
We need to be willing to stand up, work, and bring about the changes needed whether or not we face resistance. We need to ask ourselves what we can do to really make tomorrow a better place in our churches and our community. The question of whether our community and churches are where they are destined to be in the future is predicated on whether we are living in His will today.
Change is going to happen. The question is not whether things will be different tomorrow; it is whether things will be better tomorrow because of the changes happening today. Those changes can be good if we bathe them in prayer, bring others along with us, and work diligently to make our invisible dreams break through into a better reality. Or they will be bad if we ignore the fact that change happens. We are either building up a better tomorrow or watching the hard work of the previous generation decay.
God is at work, prompting people to help shape our community and our churches into what God has destined for them to be. But God is not a dictator. He never forces His will. It is up to us to respond like Isaiah did. The story goes, “And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I! Send me” (Isaiah 6:8 ESV).
Send me. Not my neighbor. Not the person sitting across the aisle. Send me! That needs to be our reply if we want our community and our churches to be what God wants them to be next year, five years from now, or even twenty years from now. Please join me in saying, “Here am I, send me.”