Sunday, February 3, 2008

times are changing

"There is a time for everything..." - Ecclesiastes 3
the time has come for Highland church to no longer meet at 443 South Highland. tomorrow i will worship at a different place, at a different time. i have worshipped at 443 south highland for almost 30 years. i am full of emotions about this change.



i like to think that i am progressive, a mover and a shaker, a leader, an optimist. but i struggle - almost to the point of resistance - to change. i was sad when my grandmother changed our christmas stockings after 20 years. i have every t-shirt from high school on. until last month i've had the same haircut all my life (give or take some 80's bangs). i still call macy's "goldsmith's", 385 "nonconnah" and U of M "memphis state." i have learned that i am very much a traditionalist and a sentimentalist. i am not superstitious. i do not think there is anything special or holy about the bricks or the address. highland is people not rooms, hearts not pews. but still, i have cried,...a lot.
with all of the thoughts and emotions that have come with this transition, i think the thing i am most sad about is that highland is the place where i met Jesus. i saw Him at highland in sunday school during flannel board lessons, in John Moore's class when he acted out Jesus in the temple, at VBS, in David Skidmore's junior high Wednesday night classes, at weddings, during Workcamp devotionals during which I was baptized, during intern sleepovers and time trip meetings, during several funerals, at so many of Buster's classes and later as an intern with Buster, during baptism after baptism, during bible studies with Rudy and Chris, while forming friendships that make every day better. i have laughed and cried, worshiped and played and prayed at Highland. i have so many memories in every room. i would not be who i am today without events and times that have occurred in that building. i am sad that i will never be able to drive my children by the building where i gave my life to Christ and my heart to Rudy.

then i started thinking of other places i have met Jesus by the grace of God - the halls of lebonheur, under a palm tree in belize, in a pool at camp cordova, in my bedroom, in a sweaty, hot room in mexico, on the beach and on a mountaintop, in the shower, searcy, arkansas, driving in my car, in a dorm room, orange mound, in our Reach group, through a card sent by a friend, through a homeless man in Memphis, via a stranger's blog,...

this prompted me to think of the places in the Bible where God's presence was most clear to others - a bush on fire, a sea divided in half, a boat full of smelly animals, in a man with leprosy, while having a meal at 2 single women's home, on a mountain, walking on a road, fishing, inside the belly of a fish, ... the list goes on and on. although the temple or tabernacle were the official places of worship during this time, God revealed himself and changed lives in other settings and during activities not necessarily set aside for worship.

so i think i've learned 2 lessons as we begin this transition:

#1 - maybe my closest encounters with God should not be within the confines of a church building. i want to have my eyes open to see God where i am. i want to live my life in a way that i experience God and share him with others whether i am at church or anywhere else in the world.

#2 - Hebrews 13:8 says, "Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever." this verse keeps coming to mind as i struggle with change. no matter what is going on in my life whether that be a different set of bricks to worship in, health, family, work, or other areas, Jesus will be the same. He will meet me where i am in life with His perfect love and amazing grace. i am thankful for how God worked through humble hearts at 443 south highland and pray with eagerness for what He will use us for in the future.

thanks for bearing with the emotional post. it's hard to convey the emotions into words. i'm forever grateful and thankful for the people - too many to name - who have brought me closer to Jesus. stay tuned for pictures and posts from the handprint wall.

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

Ashley,

thanks for reminding all of us where we meet Jesus each and every day (and moment) of our lives in this earthly world. I know that change is hard (you got it honestly - our whole family resists change in any form, as you well know), but i've already heard that today's worship at "highland at harding" was awesome. Worship that is pleasing to God is what's important and I know that He was singing right along with you today!
love you, marty

p.s. love your hair

Christy Brockman said...

Ashley,

I can definitely relate to the resistance to change (maybe on a smaller scale- we moved away from everything we knew!). But I have realized that God always seems to know something that I don't, and I end up telling Him yet again how I should have trusted Him! You have given us a clear picture of how He works, and your words are a reminder that we need to step out of our comfort zones and showcase God out of the confines of a building. I know it will be difficult to leave the place of so many memories and milestones.

The Channings said...

Ashley, your post meant a lot to me. I can relate to your struggle. I was at Park from birth, and hated leaving to find somewhere new while at Harding. Then I fought leaving my first church home here in Searcy even though God was telling us to go. But, you're right, we meet Jesus in so many other places. Meeting Jesus happens in places we might never expect. Thank you for your transparency. It was a blessing to read your words. ~Deidre

khovater said...

Love you!! I love this whole post. Even though my time at Highland was short I can relate to so many of things that you mentioned. I know that God is working and will continue to work through this body of people no matter what building you guys are meeting at. Change is hard even when we think we are good at it. I like to think that I am good at it but the Lord reminds that I am not as good as I should be as soon as the "nervous rumbling" starts. I can't wait to look back on this post a couple of years from now and see the blessings that will come from this difficult move.

Larissa Smith said...

Welcome to blogland! I love hearing your thoughts on this. You write your emotions beautifully. And I think it's healthy that you recognize the value of the building itself. You do have history there and it is fine to grieve that loss.

I hate change and yet seek it constantly, so I guess I don't like change that is forced on me. Odd, huh? I will have to think about where I have found Jesus. Church buildings are rarely involved, that's for sure.

Sarah said...

Being a sappy sentimentalist, I can't imagine how hard that was, Ashley. I hope more new precious memories are on their way in the new building.
-Sarah

Amanda's News said...

Wow, Ashley! I almost cried reading your post too:) I agree with Larissa about not liking change but in a way seeking it:) I'm glad you have joined the blogging world and I'm excited to keep up with you guys when we make our big change.

Anonymous said...

Ashley,
Your post was both beautiful and inspirational. That last service at Highland's building was so emotional for me because it brought back so many memories too of how I came to know Jesus better at Highland. You put so many of my feelings in words much better than I can. God is so powerful and I appreciate those reminders! Love ya, Amy

Blessed said...

What a great post, Ashley! I didn't grow up at H, but I do have those same feelings about the church I grew up at. You write about it so beautifully. Thanks for posting this.

Jesse Faris said...

Good good stuff. Yes.

I agree with Larissa: I resist change, yet I constantly seek it. I am a weirdo like that.

Shana said...

Hey there Ashley! I am so glad that you found my blog! I had so much fun reading yours. You are just as cute as ever! I can only imagine what you are going through with the church situation. I have attended the same church all of my life, too, and I think I would be very emotional to see it gone. I guess we just have to remember that the church the building, its the people. Sometimes I wonder if I church needs a big change. My preacher always says that the only people that like a change is a baby:)Please keep in touch! It was so great to catch up with you!

Julie said...

Hey Ashley! Hope you're doing well-thanks for the comment-I had to put my blog on private b/c of random men reading everyones, but if you'd like to read it just send me your e-mail address and I'll add you-my email is julietanner_27@hotmail.com. Have a good easter!