by Robert Lovatt
Change is Challenging …
A good friend of ours, preparing to leave the mission field after being in the Philippines for more than 25 years, said she was finding it required as much faith to leave the field, as it did to leave home in the first place!
I can identify very closely with that statement! After nearly 30 years serving with Wycliffe in several different countries we are now heading back to New Zealand for this next chapter of our lives.
I can also imagine that for every one of you reading this, you also are, or have, or soon will be experiencing significant change in some form or another. Change is now the new norm!
Transitions can be Tumultuous …
In various roles over 15 years in the Wycliffe Global Alliance Asia-Pacific Area much of my work involved being a ‘change agent’. Working with other directors, I have been responsible for creating change in a variety of ways through leadership of guidance teams, strategy teams, and other strategic planning activities, as well as training programmes.
I have seen first-hand the impact that change had. A lot of it was good, but sometimes there was a negative impact. Change and transition impact people differently. For some, the challenge is in the unknown; for others, it is the disruption to the things that are important to them and, for others, it is the loss of control. There are many ways in which change impacts the lives of people.
But There is Joy in the Journey …
However, I have also seen and experienced first-hand how change has impacted the lives of many people in very positive ways. Even in the midst of dealing with an unknown future and uncertain times, I have seen how God has been at work in the lives of His people to grow them and prove Himself forever faithful.
In the last six months my wife, Leanne, and I have experienced this personally. In October 2015 we sensed strongly that after 15 years of service in the Asia Pacific Area it was time for us both to step down from our current roles: Leanne as a middle-school teacher at Faith Academy, and myself as Director of Strategic Initiatives. These have been some of the best years of our lives with many wonderful blessings, and very fulfilling roles and responsibilities. However, we felt it was time to step down, even though we had no idea what God had for us next. We even seriously asked the question, should we continue to serve with Wycliffe, or did God have something else for us?
Then came the season of waiting! A time of testing! Having to deal with the uncertainty and the unknown! Months went by. Slowly, in His time, He began to show us the next steps in the journey. There was this season of waiting, and not knowing! It was during this time that God once again showed us what a faithful and gracious God He is. Through reading, prayer and reflection He assured us that His plans and purposes, while unknown to us, were His best for us!
Ecclesiastes 11:1–6 was particularly meaningful, where that wise old teacher, who was near the end of his life, pondered and said not once, twice, but three times, ‘you do not know’. Yet, he did not focus his musings exclusively on the unknown, but included three strong action verbs: cast, give and sow. My take on this is that rather than freezing with fear of the unknown, we are to be diligent and generous with what God has entrusted to us, despite the uncertainty of the times or future.
The other passage of Scripture that became very meaningful was Psalm 130. Two key themes embedded in this passage are ‘waiting’ and ‘hoping’. Just as the watchman waits for the dawn, so we are to wait with an expectancy that the dawn will come.
And so in His perfect timing, many months after our initial step of faith, He revealed to us the next chapter in our journey with Him. That was to return to New Zealand and serve with Wycliffe NZ in a new role for a new season.
We can truly say that throughout this season of waiting and hoping, there has been joy in the journey!