By Maureen Kalbus
Sheltering at home, air permitting, I escape outside for physical exercise whether golfing, gardening or walking. Whatever I am doing, I am conscious of change. We are entering a beautiful season when nature’s colors dramatically evolve. I love the russets, browns and golds dotting the landscape. Walking our neighborhood, I see positive changes that people are making: many gardens have been redesigned or at least titivated, with new plants taking root; trees and shrubs have been culled to afford less of a fire hazard; houses have been given face- lifts, with outside painting, and the sounds of inside renovations resounding; furniture vans are delivering new items, and old items are being given away. As each season changes, or with an approaching holiday, I change colors in the rooms of our home, swapping cushions/vases/candles/ornaments/ china/towels/bed linen, and decorating with seasonal plants and flowers. It refreshes the house, and affords me the opportunity to use all our accumulated household items. Additionally, change excites me!
At a conference I once attended, a speaker asserted that the only person who likes change, is a wet baby! Yet change comes to us all: sometimes we orchestrate it, sometimes it is unexpected, but change will always be inevitable. How we cope with it is the key.
What have been the major changes in your life?
Which ones did you plan?
Which were unexpected?
How did you react to/handle each?
“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die: a time to plant, and time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal; a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance;….
a time to keep, and a time to throw away; a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace.” Ecclesiastes 3 v 1-8
Being a planner, I used to envisage what could be ahead, and work out how to handle it, crossing every bridge before I came to it. Gradually, I woke up to the reality that the exercise was a huge waste of time, as some anticipated events didn’t happen. Facing a massive, unexpected change decades ago, I was given a copy of Corrie ten Boom’s book “The Hiding Place.” The messages I took from it are that God never gives us more than we can handle, and that every experience God gives us, every person He puts in our lives, is the perfect preparation for the future that only He can see. This was fortunate, as when subsequent plans I had made turned out disastrously, I found I was given the strength to find ways around the obstacles in my path, change, adapt, survive and flourish. At the core of my being has been faith, family and friends.
Since last year, our lives have radically changed. Curtailed at home or within our town and country, we haven’t been able to seek solace from friends or family, as everyone has been affected. The fabric of our church has changed, with new personnel, familiar faces moving away, regular services, meetings and activities being suspended, new technical maneuvers to learn, and different codes of behavior to follow. We all have had to adapt to changes, not only in our day to day living, but at times of celebration or sadness. Initially, we thought the changes would be short- term, but we are now, to quote Rev. Scott, facing the long-haul. In our congregation, we have been fortunate to have creative leaders who have enabled us to participate in live services, and who are developing strategies that will facilitate our choir members and musicians in lifting us up on “wings of song.” Others have reached out in a variety of ways. New plans are surfacing, and there are many opportunities for you to be in contact with individuals or groups. Your church family is just a phone call or email away. Ghandi urged people to “Be the change you want to see in the world.”
During these difficult times, how have you been reacting to change? Are you facilitating change?
The Bible is full of stories of individuals whose plans changed, and the ways in which they were led to accept the changes, become better people, successful and fulfilled. Whatever the era, they, and we, are held in God’s hands: “God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in trouble. Therefore, we will not fear, though the earth should change…” Psalm 46 v 1-2
“Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified…for the Lord your God goes with you; He will never leave you nor forsake you.” Deut. 31 v 6
”Listen, I tell you a mystery: we will not all sleep, but we will all be changed.” 1 Cor. 15 v 51
“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.
And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding,
will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” Phil 4 v 6-7
“ God, give me grace to accept with serenity
the things that cannot be changed,
Courage to change the things
which should be changed,
and the Wisdom to distinguish one from the other.
Living one day at a time.
Enjoying one moment at a time.
Accepting hardship as a pathway to peace.
Taking, as Jesus did,
This sinful world as is,
Not as I would have it.
Trusting that You will make things right,
If I surrender to your will,
So that I may be reasonably happy in this life,
And supremely happy with You forever in the next.”
May you be heartened and strengthened to face the changes in the weeks ahead, Maureen Kalbus