I like new things. I fall on the early adopter to early majority on the change curve. I have moved every five to seven years of my life, each time embracing the adventure of a new home, a new job, and a new community.
Yet this morning, as I write this, I am sitting on a plane on my way to Arizona, and I recognize how much energy it takes, even for a person who welcomes change, to do something new. Since I was going to Arizona for a Hamline University Board of Trustees meeting, I thought: Why not tag on a couple of extra days to get out of winter? I have been to Phoenix a couple of times, so I this time I decided to drive to Sedona for a couple of days.
It seemed like a good idea when I planned it. But this morning, I am having second thoughts. Do I really want to deal with the hassle of renting a car, driving unfamiliar roads, spending a couple of days on my own exploring a new area? Why didn’t I just do the easy thing of booking an extra night or two at the place where we meet for the Board of Trustees retreat? That would have been much simpler.
The fleeting thought that passed through my brain this morning: I am tired—I just want to stay home and hibernate. This is going to take more energy than I have at this moment, and I hate feeling like I am out of my element, so why not just bail on the whole thing? Can you believe that? Seriously, stay in the frozen north instead of the sunny southwest. Good thing the hotel was prepaid and the plane ticket was purchased . . . my responsibility gene kicked in. I had made a commitment to myself and, darn it, I was going to keep it. And I knew, from previous experiences, I would enjoy it once I got to the other side.
I wonder about Abraham who went when God simply said, “Go to the land I will show you.” No map. No hotel reservations. No sense about life on the other side. Just a profound sense that God would be in it. Then there are the disciples who were told by Jesus to leave their nets and “Come. Follow me.” Move from your home, your previous career and life, and come on a new adventure.
We are at a time in our life as a Christian movement when God is calling us to strike out in some new directions. We are being asked to leave what is familiar and comfortable—our buildings, our way of worship, our expecting people to come to us—and be missionaries. Go out. Explore. Meet new people and engage in our community like we are seeing it for the first time.
I know what was pushing my buttons this morning. It was that I was doing this new thing alone. It is so much easier to do a new thing, to go to a new place, when you have someone else with you . . . to share the joy of the adventure, but also to share in navigating whatever challenges you face. Abraham had Sarah. Peter had James and John. Jesus sent out the disciples two by two for a reason. That is the power of Christian community.
I want to stay open to the “new” in my life and in my walk with God. It is a richer, deeper experience when I do. I am always grateful for the times I have stretched myself. I have grown as a person, and it has taught me to trust God even more because I see how God sustains me and can use me when I let go of my need to have everything figured out, and I just go. The hardest step is always one the first one, but once I take it, the next one almost always gets easier.
So, my friends, what new adventure awaits you? How are you praying for the new thing God wants to do in and through you and your church? Stay open to it. And remember, even if it seems like it, you are not alone.
Jesus’ final words to those disciples: “I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
Rev. Cindy Gregorson is director of ministries for the Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church.
Minnesota Annual Conference of the United Methodist Church