Transition: struggle, pain, joy…and mixed feelings! #166

The Breaking of Bread service (Communion Service) at Deerfoot Lodge is a powerful experience for me, and for many.  The focus in this worship celebration is on what Jesus accomplished for us through His sacrificial death on the cross.

As I think I have said previously, those who have received God’s gift of salvation sit in a half circle around the table where the elements have been placed.  Worship and thanksgiving are encouraged as people read passages of Scripture, suggest a hymn, and lead in prayer.  Comments made are brief, the a capella singing is our praise, our response to God.

I have had the privilege of “leading” these services something over 325 times.  As DL Director, I opened the service, started the hymns, served the elements, and closed our time together in prayer.  Imagine standing in the middle 100 men singing It is Well With My Soul. “When peace, like a river, attendeth my way, When sorrows like sea billows role;  Whatever my lot, thou hast taught me to say, It is well, It is well with my soul.” In vs. 3: “My sin, not in part, but the whole.  Is nailed to the cross and I bear it no more, Praise the Lord, Praise the Lord O my soul!  It is well, it is well with my soul”

When Chief Ron became Director of DL, he asked that I continue to lead the singing at work weekend Breaking of Bread services.  After 8 years, I know my voice is clearly “going down hill”.  This past work weekend I asked Tim Daniels, long term DL camper, staff member, friend, and for many years, Director of Music at Long Hill Chapel, to sit next to me.

As we sang together I became very aware the time had come for Tim to lead the hymns.  Tim knows hymns, his voice is stronger, his range is greater.  Through the years Tim has even learned harmonies I have developed for many of the hymns!   It was time for transition, and I knew it…my tears began to flow.  This was a tough realization – but so much better for me to come to this realization than have people feeling “I just wish he would quit!”

When Chief Ron concluded the service, I stood and said the time had come for Tim to lead the singing portion of these services.  This transition was not significant to many there….but for me, a huge struggle!  I was in tears – a basket case.

As people left the area, Chief Ron graciously asked if I would still lead the hymns if Tim was unable to come for a work weekend.  It was easy to say yes.  I am thankful to God Almighty that those who have stepped into my role, like Chief Ron and Tim, are men I respect, men prepared for the responsibility and the joy of leadership.

After I had written the first draft of this IPWG, I received an e-mail from Jeff Mould, DL staff member years ago.  After serving as a camp director in California he is moving 3,500 miles to become the director of Northstar Bible Camp in Willow, Alaska – 1 ½ hr north of Anchorage.  Transition.  In some ways easy, but in others, really tough.  Daughter Joy shouted for joy, son Evan dissolved into tears.  His wife Tami writes “as time has passed, each of us, in our own way, is growing more excited.  As God answers prayer, it is clear He is leading our family to Northstar.”

In reality we live in transition all of the time: we graduate, get a job, are promoted – or laid off.  Marriage is transition – as is the birth of each child.  I remember when our son, Dirk, was first able to ride a bike.  We rode together, and then one day he asked for a race.  He got ahead – but his chain came off – and I won (for the last time!!!)  And I remember when he rebuilt a VW, and got his driver’s license – transition…and mixed emotion.

There is transition in Christian living.  We transition from not knowing about God, to knowing about God, to knowing God in a unique way, made possible through His gift of salvation.  As a Christian, I transition from a very basic understanding of Jesus loves me, to an ever increasing understanding of the implications of this truth for my thinking, for my living as God’s man – as evidenced by how I worship, give, study, love, forgive, etc.

As we live In Partnership With God, may we work toward transition – not run from it.

The ultimate transition?  Into the presence of God.  May we hear “well done, good and faithful servant!”

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