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God’s ‘rocks of truth’ remain

What a brain tumor taught me about change and the church.

Before surgery, my neurologist was rather grim. 

“There’s a chance you won’t make it off the table, Nancy. We’re going to do our best. If you do survive the surgery, there’s a good chance that you’ll be blind or partially blind.”  

Nancy Oehlert

Nancy Oehlert

Life is full of transitions. With some, there’s time to prepare. But others are unexpected. My epic, surprise transition was the discovery of an enormous brain tumor. 

I not only survived two surgeries and a six-week round of radiation to my brain, but I can still see better than most people my age. God is exceedingly and abundantly good!

Let me assure you that thinking you’re going to die, preparing to die and then not dying is tremendously liberating. This transition was a turning point in my life. 

I was “raised in the church,” as we say, by godly, precious parents and enjoyed many advantages. By any standard of measure, God had given me an abundance of blessings. 

Yet, I had been leading a life of marginal Christianity. I wasn’t out doing anything horrible or illegal, but I wasn’t making much of a difference for God or my fellow man, either. 

The words from Luke 12:48 nagged at me: “From everyone who has been given much, much will be demanded; and from the one who has been entrusted with much, much more will be asked.”

For anyone who has been blessed as I have been blessed, that scripture calls for solemn self-examination.

The author C.S. Lewis once wrote, “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains.” God was shouting! He led me into a season of struggle, pain and transition that demanded a change on my part.

Why are transition and change so hard for us? The very nature of life is transition and change. I often wonder why God didn’t hard-wire us to handle it more gracefully. 

We often say that God is in control and looking out for us. So, why do we fear change? Why do we struggle with transitions?

As I speak to groups across the country, I’m starting to see certain commonalities. The biggest? My home congregation is not the only one struggling with change these days. Churches of all sizes, denominations and traditions are undergoing transformations on various issues. Public worship, church staffing and community outreach are just a few of the many areas in flux. This is true not only in the United States but around the world. 

But God has given us anchors. The rocks we stand on remain firm.

Our world is changing. Families, education, medicine and governments are changing. Man’s nature may be the same, but individuals are changing. This means that the church, made up of people, is also changing. 

Many of us are working at navigating transitions while others are upset and angry, perhaps even a bit fearful. I get that. And in a world full of change and transition, we’re seeking an anchor. We’re looking for a rock to stand on, a firm foundation that will not be moved. God has provided. 

Allow me to encourage you with these rocks of truth: 

• God is still God. He is still on his throne and still very much in control — of everything. Nothing takes God by surprise, and he is never unprepared.

• Christ is still seated at God’s right hand, waiting for his bride. His mercy still flows to sinners. He is still interceding for us. He still performs miracles. (My own story is proof.)

• The Holy Spirit is still active in believers. He’s still moving, still leading, still comforting, still counseling, still interceding, still indwelling.  

• The Bible is still the word of God. It is still active, authoritative, and flawless. The Bible still holds the answers to life’s questions. It is unchanged and unchanging.

As long as we have these rocks, these anchors for our souls, we’re going to be OK. Other things may change. The details may not be what we’re accustomed to or what we might prefer. We may be called upon to make a few transitions in our way of thinking about some things. 

But God has given us anchors. The rocks we stand on remain firm. 

God called me to level up in how I live out my faith. Marginal Christianity is no longer an option for me. He got my attention when I faced death and was mercifully given more time. 

Now, every day is God’s. My mission in life, with whatever time I have left, is to encourage anyone who will listen to the message that all of the changes and transitions we face in life are ultimately for our benefit. They are meant to be a blessing if we will only receive it.

NANCY OEHLERT and her husband, Mark, worship with the Northwest Church of Christ in San Antonio.  See more of her writing at CreateYourDash.com. 

Filed under: brain tumor In the Word Opinion Top Stories Views

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