Not too long ago one had the occasion to go back to Rogers, Arkansas where one graduated from high school. Yes, it had changed. It was the first time one had been back in quite some time. Moving there after one’s father retired from the Air Force in 1970, the population of Rogers was just a little over 5,000. Today the highway sign says about 53,000.
Some of the “old spots” were still there, but the surroundings were so changed that if you didn’t know what you were looking for you would miss it. Country dirt roads are now paved and the pastures are covered with subdivisions and strip malls. Where one’s high school girlfriend used to go horseback riding are now gated communities. The soda fountain/drug store downtown is an antique and craft shop. A bit of nostalgia took over.
One almost wishes he could make it all the “way it was.” One wishes he could dust off the streets and walk through the familiar neighborhood, and visit the familiar faces. But, one can’t. He must accept the change – like it or not. No one can live in the past no matter how comfortable and how wonderful it was. Would one really want to go back and live those turbulent teenage years over again? Honestly, no!
The Apostle Paul writes, “Hope that is seen is not hope, why does one still hope for what he sees?” (Romans 8:24) One’s hope, our hope is not in the past – what one has seen or can see. One’s hope is in the new creation, new life, new direction that comes to us through the saving power of Christ and the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit. One’s hope is in what lies ahead, not the idealized images of the past.
Change is the only constant in one’s lives. Change is never easy. People usually don’t change until the pain of functioning in the “same old” way is greater than the pain of making the necessary changes. This is true for everyone, for the church, for the nation, for the world, for humanity. Renewal and restoration are constant themes of the Bible. The shepherd writes “He restores my soul.” He doesn’t bring back the past. He doesn’t camouflage the old. He restores and makes new. He will restore the calling. He will restore the mission. HE WILL RESTORE THE HOPE. HE WILL RESTORE THE SOUL.
No matter what the age, no matter what the stage or circumstance in life, one cannot live without hope. One cannot hold so tightly to the “old ways” that they become an immovable anchor keeping one from the true potential.
Everyone is being shaped daily by the Master Sculptor. He chisels, chips, sands and shapes to bring out what he has in mind. He rounds and smooths the rough corners of the character. Sometimes this chiseling, chipping, sanding and rounding is painful and uncomfortable. But when one allows the Master Sculptor to have his way then everyone becomes all that he has intended. And when the final shine is placed on the sculpture of one’s lives, the life of the church, the nation, the world, then everyone will stand brilliantly in His presence, having achieved all he has sought for everyone to achieve.
O Lord, chisel me, chip me, sand me, polish me, shape me, mold me into what you would have me be and yes, Lord, comfort me in the pain and discomfort of the process, for you are making all things “NEW” and that includes me. My HOPE is in you.”
Rev. J. Pete Hyde, Senior Pastor
Santa Rosa Beach Community Church