It’s always an emotional time when you leave someplace: when the child goes away to college, when the family leaves its home because they’re moving to a new one, when the baby of the family moves out on her own. It’s emotional, even when you know the move is what you wanted and for your good.
Christians have real reason to have a confidence that no matter what change is happening, it can and will be used for the good of the child of God. That is the confidence we have no matter what.
This Sunday, God willing, our church family will be making a big move. After nine and a half months of worshipping at West Newton Elementary, we’ll be saying a goodbye to that school that’s been so good to us in our 10:30 service and moving to our new place. I’m sure it will be emotional, remembering all the blessings God has poured out on us there, even though we know God has good stuff in store for us at our new place, even though we’ve been working so hard to make the new place happen. Our emotion can be and is based in a confidence that God will work his good through this.
That’s a truth that applies to every facet of life. If you know God’s promises, whatever change is happening, whether you’re moving up or downgrading, you can be confident.
In Jeremiah 29:11, God makes a promise. "For I know the plans I have for you," declares the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."
Do you always remember that? Sometimes the right thing to do can be the hard thing. Satan will show you so many other options. Your selfish humanity will tell you that you should take the easy way out, whether that is in how you allocate your use of time or in how you deal with the people around you. It’s hard to give when you want to take. It’s not easy to show love when you want to show revenge, but this promise of God’s gives you power to do that.
God’s plan for you may not be your plan. I know, there are preachers out there who will tell you that if you believe enough, you’ll have every last wish of your selfish heart here. They’re forgetting what the rest of Scripture says. Jesus tells us that following him means taking up the cross. A cross (Remember, it’s an instrument of torture and death, not jewelry) is not a pleasant thing. But the cross of the sufferings in our lives is what God uses to draw us closer to him and align our wills more closely with his. He has a plan for us, a plan for us to be with him forever, and a plan to use us here on our way to heaven.
So even if the changes in life are not what we had planned, through the forgiveness of sins won for us on Jesus’ cross, we have hope and a future, and through all the changes in life, we know that our Savior is working to prosper us and not to harm us. Just read Romans 8:28. It says this: "We know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him." All things.
So, even when things aren’t going the way we would have chose them, when they aren’t necessarily happy circumstances, we can have joy. How much more when God is giving us exactly what we ask for.
The Rev. Jonathan Scharf is pastor of Abiding Grace Lutheran Church in Covington. Full sermons and more information can be found at www.abidinggrace.com.