"There is Grace for This!"

 

I learned last week that they are tearing down the old Greer Hospital in Vandalia that was built in 1925. This is where I was born in 1951. For the last years it has served as an annex and professional building adjacent  to the main hospital. This will "pave the way" (literally!) for a parking lot expansion on the property. I first heard of the demolition from my dad and then read around the subject in the local Vandalia paper online. Surprisingly, the news of this change left me feeling a little nostalgic and depressed. Especially when you consider that the house where my ninety-one year-old dad was birthed is still standing! That doesn't seem fair! 

Mark Greer Hospital Demolition
Photo Credit: Kevin Keppler

About three years ago, I remember walking with my grand daughter Chloe from my sister's house near the hospital over to the annex after the Thanksgiving meal that day. I wanted to show her the humble setting of my beginnings and to retell the story passed to me by my mother of how her Poppi gave grandma Joan a lot of grief in the hours leading up to the birth. 

I do remember this preteen's attention "glazing over" with polite boredom as I spun the narrative. The only time she came back to reality is when I compared the $50 cost for my birth with her mother Chel's preemie birthing costs of $32,000!!

What is it about such news as a demolition project that makes one a little downcast about it all? I think for me it is that change is all around! I often reflect upon the old saying, "the only thing you can count on is change!" I heard a friend blurt out recently, "I hate change!" He and I are close in age. We've had this conversation before and I usually answer his complaint with "I do as well! But I think, well maybe, this is an opportunity in disguise!" That usually doesn't comfort either of us too much! 😏

Change is a reality in this fast-paced world of ours. I see it in how quickly our grandchildren are growing up. I see change when I look in the mirror and think, "I don't feel that old!" I see it on the 2021 wall calendar already filled with doctor appointments and birthday reminders. We are just days into a new year with changes on the horizon that we cannot predict or imagine. After the past year of the Pandemic with its restrictions, illnesses and deaths, we have already made adjustments and dealt with many losses and uncertainties! This is hard on a guy who loves his routine, predictability and sameness!

So, how do you deal with all this change! I can take a pen and paper, have some fun and be informed with an acrostic from the word, "CHANGE." C - Chapter. Like a book, life does have many chapters! H - Humility. Dealing with change requires humility because there is a lot we don't understand! A - Attitude. My first reaction to change is "Oh no, not again!" but this requires me to accept some needed adjustments in my attitude! N - Necessity. I don't think I would choose to change voluntarily without a little benevolent pushing by the Lord. The Psalmist spoke about how the shepherd "makes me lie down in green pastures, he leads me beside quiet waters" (Ps. 23:2).

G - Growth. If I resist too much, God reminds me that I started this faith journey with repentance, a change of heart and choosing a new life-direction. And... this journey with Him continues as Paul reminds, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, and the new has come!" (2 Cor. 5:17). E - Embrace. Trust God! How often are we pleasantly surprised at the blessings awaiting us at the other end of change?

I came to Springfield twenty-nine years ago this past November 3rd from a place of security and predictability. It was a difficult decision for our family of six to relocate back to Illinois after fifteen years in Texas. We struggled with this change that would affect each member of our family. The night before a "trial sermon" during  a "call weekend," we sought the prayers and support of family and friends for this decision. 

A wise and older believer who served within our denominational leadership advised me, "There is grace for this!" His counsel was a little cryptic and mysterious, but I heard the scriptural admonition clearly in my heart. God said, "My grace is sufficient for you" (2 Cor. 12:9). After over twenty-six years of ministry in one place, I can look back and say, "That chapter requiring change was formatively one of the greatest of blessings for us!"

When you think things are changing beyond control, remember God is still sovereign! He's on His throne! And there is always, "Grace for this!"

Mike Keppler, retired pastor, 
active churchman and
doting grandparent. 
Contact: drmjkeppler@gmail.com


Comments

  1. Enjoyed your blog Mike. Worse thing about change is I can only control so much of it. What part of it I can control I want to be sure I am making the right decisions.

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