Thursday, September 17, 2009

Faithfulness requires change

A meeting and funeral had me on the eastern side of the state this week, so I decided to seize the opportunity to go and see my parents for an evening. Driving into Texarkana on I-30, I almost missed the exit to my parent’s house, an exit I’ve taken thousands of times. Why? It wasn’t amnesia. It was more like disorientation. Some federal stimulus money has put a huge road construction project on the fast track. Coming into Texarkana, there is now one of those large highway exchanges with overpasses and ramps heading in all sorts of directions. To make room for this, roads that used to be there aren’t there anymore, the movie theater has been torn down, and none of the countless pine trees that used line the interstate remain. If there hadn’t been a sign labeling the new off ramp, I might have easily ended up in Arkansas before I realized my mistake.

As I commented to my parents about all the changes, I recognized that I was starting to sound like an old person. I was reminded of a story told by the dean of my seminary, Paul Powell, of a time when he had returned to a hometown for a reunion only to find that everything had changed. Places he had enjoyed as a child were no more and new places, places he’d never experienced, had been built. He noted that only one place remained the same. The cemetery. He commented wryly, “I guess dead things don’t change.”

We so often see change as a threat to life. Some changes may indeed be threatening. But no change, well, that’s always bad. For life to continue, change must happen. I can’t stay a kid forever. The only hometowns that never change are called ghost towns. Theologian Kevin Vanhoozer put it this way, “Faithfulness sometimes requires change, not sameness.” In a city, it means that being committed to providing adequate means of transportation requires the changing of roads from time to time. It requires both demolition and construction. In life, it may mean that desiring to be a person of faith requires constantly adapting to new situations, new opportunities, and new people for the sake of remaining faithful to the one, true God. Such faithfulness requires many changes as we continually seek how to make our love for our neighbor as real today as it was yesterday.

So, what changes might your life need in order to remain faithful to those things (and people) that are most important to you?

There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven – Ecclesiastes 3:1.

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