Called to Worship – Issue #15
by Phil Mershon
****WARNING: This post is longer than usual, so you may want to grab a cup of coffee for this chat!! ****
I hate moving. I’ve moved 18 times in the last 20 years—12 of them while married. I think I’m qualified to say something negative about moving, but God keeps showing me grace in the midst of moving. I think you’ll find these lessons apply even if life seems quite stationary.
My purpose in writing is to encourage you and assure you that what you are experiencing is truly part of God’s grace for you. Stand firm in this grace.
1 PETER 5:15 (NLT)
Grace #1 – Moving forces us to deal with unaddressed issues
Every time I move I try to go through the boxes of things I’ve left unpacked from the last move. Unfortunately, I don’t always succeed. In fact, with each move there seems to be a larger number of boxes that don’t get addressed. Before one move, I rented a dumpster to unload accumulated junk so we wouldn’t move it again.
I’m afraid that happens in my relational life. I keep avoiding issues by putting it in the storage room of my heart. There’s a problem with stored garbage…
Grace #2 – If we keep stuffing life’s garbage, it will eventually start to reek.
One of the moving services we hired was so thorough they even packed our garbage for us. You can imagine our surprise 6 weeks later when we moved into our new house and started unpacking our boxes. Fortunately, they didn’t pack any perishables, but can you imagine if they had…EWWW!!!
If we could see inside the boxes stuffed in the crevices of our heart, I think we would find all kinds of garbage packed around the gems. Only a true friend will tell you your clothes stink. Likewise, it sometimes takes a friend to tell us our heart stinks.
SONG: Hopefully your relationships won’t end like this Johnny Cash song:
Grace #3 – Moving gives us a chance to start some new patterns. So does grace.
One advantage of moving is that your new friends have no idea how you used to live (not quite as true in this day of social media where your new and old friends all share in your life). At least you have a mental opportunity to turn over a new leaf and start a diet or a new morning routine.
The good news of the gospel gives you that chance every day. You don’t have to wait for a move or a major catastrophe.
Look at what God promises in Lamentations and start claiming that truth every morning. This brings refreshment to my weary soul:
The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases;
his mercies never come to an end;
they are new every morning;
great is your faithfulness.
SONG: Be encouraged by this moving rendition of Great is Thy Faithfulness by Ce Ce & Delores Winans:
Grace #4 – Moving creates stress and stress exposes fractures in your relationships. Grace is the only salve to be trusted.
Moving can be like a pressure cooker—especially in your relationships. Pressure cookers can work wonders, unless the sealing ring is broken. The same is true in our relationships. If we have strong, loving relationships based on grace, we can endure unbelievable pressure. But if there are untreated fissures, the stress of a move can be cataclysmic.
That’s why the Apostle Paul’s reminder is so critical:
Instead, be kind to each other, tenderhearted,
forgiving one another, just as God through Christ has forgiven you.
Grace #5 – Grace enables gracious goodbyes and hellos.
I love meeting new people, but its difficult to say goodbye to friends and neighbors. I have to remind myself that for Christians we never say “goodbye,” but “see you later.” The Apostle Paul (who moved a whole lot more than I have) always closes his epistles with words that have become far too ordinary to our ears. He knows the three things that his distant friends need:
The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the love of God
and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.
2 CORINTHIANS 13:14 (emphasis added)
SONG: My favorite goodbye song has to be Michael W. Smith‘s Friends
Grace #6 – Moving reminds us that we’re not home—yet
The people of Israel wandered for forty years in the wilderness. Jesus said, “Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Luke 9:58) Man has been moving ever since God kicked Adam out of the garden. One day we will be restored to God’s heavenly garden.
Until that day comes, moving is part of life. Some will get to stay in the same house for forty years like my parents. Others will live in eighteen homes in twenty years like me. Regardless, we are all looking forward to our new home where there will be no more moving.
SONG: A friend recently introduced me to this classic by David Phelps. It’s a great reminder that in heaven there will be No More Night (and no more moving!):
Grace #7 – Moving points us to Jesus’ mission
Once Jesus started his earthly ministry, he was constantly on the move. It seems he didn’t stay anywhere for more than a few days. He left each village saying he had other lost sheep to find. He also moved with purpose toward his destined crucifixion. He never waivered from that path.
Just as God ordered Jesus’ steps, we can move through this life with confidence that God is ordering our steps—no matter what.
SONG: Check out Hail, Thou Once Despised Jesus by Zac Hicks. (Click on the song once on his website).
Bringing it home
How have you found grace in the midst of life’s journeys?