In the Midst of Change – Pastor Ben Zabel

Needless to say, life has been a bit chaotic in the Zabel household for the past few months! We packed up our house in South Dakota, said “goodbye” to friends and our church family, moved half-way across the country into a new house in a new place with new rhythms, and I started my new role as Lead Pastor here at Shoreline Covenant. It truly has been a whirlwind of emotion and change and new experiences.

In God’s sovereign way, though, our stories have not been that dissimilar. You also have been in an extended season of transition and change, new rhythms and new experiences through the interim period, adjusting to new ways of operating, and starting to get used to a new Lead Pastor. Shoreline Covenant has also experienced a whirlwind of emotion and change and new experiences.

What can we learn from these seasons? What can we take away from these experiences? What wisdom can we glean from our circumstances? I want to share three things, although there are hundreds (at least) that could make this list.

First, Satan loves to go to work in chaos! When we are experiencing any amount of uncertainty in our lives (or church), Satan goes to work undermining all that God has been up to and all that God wants to do. Spiritual Warfare is always happening, but it can intensify in times of transition and change. We need to seek the Lord and invite the Holy Spirit to act on our behalf in these seasons!

Second, God is still faithful and at work! When what is familiar gets stripped away we can feel uncertainty and untethered. But God’s faithfulness is an anchor for our souls in times of chaos and change. Throughout scripture God keeps showing up in the midst of chaos. God leads and guides and protects people in every circumstance. God wants to do those same things in our lives during chaos and change.

In Matthew 14:22-33 we find the story of Jesus walking on the water. In that story, the disciples see Jesus walking on the water toward them in their boat. Jesus calls Peter to come out to him on the water. Peter gets out of the boat and is actually doing it! “Then Peter got down out of the boat, walked on the water and came toward Jesus.” What an amazing feeling to go where Jesus has called you to go and do something you previously thought was impossible!

But the chaos was real. The waves were lapping against his feet and legs, the wind was blowing his hair and beard, the spray splashing against his skin. Verse 24 tells us that the wind was against them, that the waves were keeping them from moving forward. And even as Peter was doing something amazing that God had called him to, the chaos was raging around him. So Peter did what we so often do: he took his eyes off of Jesus and all of the problems around him came into focus. As soon as Peter took his eyes off of Jesus, he began to sink.

This is the third thing I’ve learned in the midst of change and transition: when we take our eyes off of Jesus we begin to sink! Impatience sets in. Frustration and anger take over. Uncertainty leads to disagreement and confrontation. It is human nature to look at the waves instead of focusing on Jesus. Fortunately Jesus was there to take ahold of Peter’s hand and save him. Jesus is also right there with you and with me, ready to reach out his hand and keep us from drowning. Let’s fix our eyes on Jesus every day, no matter how the wind and waves crash!