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The Rev. Susan Sparks The Rev. Susan Sparks
The Rev. Susan Sparks is a former trial lawyer who now serves as senior pastor of Madison Avenue Baptist Church in New York, NY.

Member of:

American Baptist Churches USA

Representative of:

Madison Avenue Baptist Church, New York, NY


There's Been a Change in Plans

November 19, 2009

 

July 23, 2009 5:30pm JFK

I was sitting on the runway waiting for a flight to Minneapolis--or so I thought. Just after pulling away from the gate, a huge cell of electrical storms blew in. The next thing you know, JFK closes and we are engines off for two hours. Finally the storms pass, and I hear the jets begin to warm up. We move approximately 2.5 inches, then we stop again with engines off. Then the pilot comes on: "I'm afraid there's been a change of plans. The good news is that we will get to Minneapolis at some point. The bad news is that due to the backup from the storms, we are number 78 in line for takeoff. "

Isn't that life? We're going 100 miles an hour one direction then BAM-there's a change of plans. Like death and taxes, one of the few things in this life we can count on is change. It's like the Author Faith Baldwin said, "Time is a dressmaker specializing in alterations. "

From the time we are born, life is in a constant state of change:

-One day you are filing papers at your job, the next day you are filing for unemployment. There's been a change in plans.

-One day you have brown hair, the next you have brown, mixed with a few strays that look suspiciously gray. There's been a change in plans.

-One day your son or daughter is curled up in your lap begging for a story, and the next they are standing at the door begging for the car keys. There's been a change of plans.

-One minute your partner says you are the love of my life, the next you hear "I don't want you in my life." There's been a change in plans.

-One minute you are full of vim and vigor, the next you are taking five advil just to get out of bed. There's been a change in plans.

We spend our lives looking for solid ground. And sometimes we look in places that aren't so solid--like money or possessions (which will fade), or worse we turn to other people for solid ground (which many of us know from experience can be one of the most unstable, unpredictable of all places).

Sometimes I think life feels like the undulating floors at Coney Island fun house. Everywhere you put your foot, the ground moves and shifts and changes. No spot remains constant and there is no solid ground.

It is times like these that I think about others who have lived this moving, shifting fun house floor experience and somehow found a way to survive-even thrive. And that's when I think about the Psalms.

Three years and seven trillion dollars later--the best thing I got out of seminary is an introduction to the Psalmist. These folks seriously rock. I'm not kidding. Just pick up a Psalm--any Psalm and you'll find any and every human trauma: war, murder, adultery, treason, theft, lust...it's like Mad Men set in 750 BC. These were people who knew a bit about change. Yet, they survived and not just survived but flourished. And they did so, because they put their trust in what never changes.

My favorite is Psalm 46 where the Psalmist write about stuff sounding suspiciously like the movie 2012. "We will not fear, though the earth should change, though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam, though the mountains tremble with its tumult...The nations are in an uproar, the kingdoms totter...the earth melts." Take that on John Cusack!

There is something very poignant about reading a 3000 year old message written by folks that have gone through the very same things we are going through today. We've all been exiled, we've all lost our sense of home, we've all faced storms and tribulations and we all have felt the lack of solid ground. Yet for generation after generation, these psalmists found a refugee.  "The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."


My two cents? In life there will always be "a change of plans." We just need to trust in what never changes, so we can then trust in what does.


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