Steve Ballew

Steve Ballew currently pastors Emmanuel Baptist Church, Farmington. He will become the Baptist Convention of New Mexico's new Executive Director on Jan. 1, 2021. 

I began the year describing lessons I had learned running with my dogs. (Although, you should remember that – personally - I actually, own no dogs. All dogs are owned by other family members). I have another lesson I have learned over the last couple of weeks.

First, I am down to running with only one dog. My wife insisted that we bring her dog when we moved to Albuquerque. And, it seemed prudent for me to agree. 

As my only running partner, this one dog and I are adapting to necessary changes. The one big change, that has precipitated all the other adaptations, is our long-awaited move. Things are way different now. And, we are learning through the process of dealing with the changes.

One of the most significant changes is learning to run on a leash again. Just in case you were wondering, the dog is still on the business end of the leash. This is how we began our runs together over a year ago, but I took her off the leash a long time ago because we were running out in the country. She is an incredibly obedient dog. However, that is no longer an option.

Now, we have to abide by leash laws because no one else knows how great a dog she is. She is learning how to not wrap the leash around me by wandering around. And, I am learning how to give her instructions she can follow.

We had to find a new path. I knew there was a walking and running path nearby our new neighborhood. I just didn’t know how to easily access it from my house. We went one way and ran into a fence. Not literally, but it did cause us to figure out this was not the correct way. Then, we turned into a cul-de-sac. Hopefully, no one thought I was “casing” the neighborhood. By the way, “no outlet” signs also apply to dogs and runners. 

Finally, we found the path designated for our journey. Our new path has many more people and dogs than our old dirt trail. That is fine. Most of the people and dogs are pretty friendly. The atmosphere is just different.

I have learned some things. For a start, dogs dislike change almost as much as people dislike change. Change is stressful. However, even if I do not like change, I still have to adapt. Incidentally, fighting change also requires adaptation.

I have also learned that, since change is inevitable, you and I need to be more directive with regard to change. Because the speed of change seems to be increasing, we need to be increasingly flexible. We need to embrace the opportunities that come with it, too. And, sometimes, we need to be the agents that bring change.

Our world is still enduring a pandemic. The last 16 months have brought many changes. Then, the changes experienced changes. We seem to rewrite the definition of “new normal” over and over again.

Many churches have used this season to adapt the ways they minister to their communities. Some have used this season to evaluate what they are doing and why and make appropriate adjustments to their ministries. Others are struggling to find their way. We rejoice with those who rejoice in the fresh and new things God is doing.  We also grieve with those who grieve things lost. 

The season vividly reminds us that the church does not simply have a mission from God, but the church is God’s methodology for fulfilling His mission. At times, we get so wrapped up in so many ancillary issues that we forget to keep the main thing the main thing. This season reminds us that we are all missionaries serving a God on mission to bring His Good News to the world. And, the world certainly needs some really good news.

So, look for new paths. Resist getting frustrated by cul-de-sacs. Embrace necessary adaptations. And, create some new opportunities. 

SN4598

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