Create in me a pure heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me.” Psalm 51:10
We all experience change in our lives. Change happens daily. Some change is good; other change almost cripples us and leaves us helpless and disoriented. Change can be dreadful.
This year, my workplace, McGuire Lumber was sold; it was a family-owned business serving the Yakima Valley for more than 50 years. In February, all the employees were called together for a mandatory meeting.
Let me preface this with a short little story. In February 1998 we were called together for an early mandatory meeting, at 7:00 a.m. Breakfast was served to all, and we waited for the boom to fall. To our surprise, we were told McGuire’s had plans of expanding outside of the Yakima valley, and that our 401(k) had a bumper year. Some of the funds increased more than 20 percent; and this was great for all employees. And to prove to us that they believed in us as employees, we all received a 3 percent bonus–3 percent of our total yearly salary.
February 1999: a totally different story. No breakfast, no good news, no bonus. The four departments within McGuire all had separate meetings. This should have been a clue. This year there was a new face in the crowd, the CEO of Lumbermen’s. Life was going to change.
After the introduction of the CEO we learned that McGuire had indeed been sold to Lumbermen’s, and we were to become one of 46 other stores under the Lumbermen’s umbrella. Lumbermen’s is a subsidiary of Lanoga Corporation, a pretty large player in the business world. We were told we would see very few changes. It would be business as usual. Come in to work on Monday, and it will still be McGuire’s (because we were keeping the family name) and the customers wouldn’t notice any changes at all.
As he spoke and we asked questions, Dave told us that we would notice changes in a few areas of business. These changes would be good, and we’d all work through them.
Dave continued to tell us that as partners with Lumbermen’s we would be able to use that clout to attract new clientele, and through the changes we would all work together for a smooth transition.
As we were nearing the end of our meeting, and more questions were asked and answered, it became apparent that we were really no longer the employees of McGuire Lumber as we were just the day before. We would be employees of the bigger picture, the bigger corporation, and with all the changes that were to take place, we were assured that we would all work through them with the teamwork and expertise that had become one of the traits of McGuire Lumber. Only we were Lumbermen’s of the Lanoga Corporation.
Change: You’ve experienced it. We have all experienced change in our lives for eternity. Some change is good, and some change is critical. Some change is heart-wrenching. Some change is vital. Some change, well, it’s just change.
I remember the words of Commissioner David Edwards at our first meeting when he said, “What are we willing to keep, what are we willing to throw out?” and then something about baggage, garbage and keepsakes. And the phrase “Christian Salvationists.” That was a pretty bold statement, because everyone knows a Salvationist is a Christian, right?
The changes that will take place when we pen the words for the territorial vision statement: can you see them in your mind? We might have to change our way of thinking as we put these words on paper, because the effect will be territorial. I challenge you not to make it generic. Too generic and we have no path to follow. Too wordy, too off the wall, too cliquish and we will all stumble and fall, and our time spent together will be in vain.
How will this vision statement impact our soldiers, this Army? Are we ready for the challenge? Are we confident enough to say these are God’s words, and we are only the messengers? Sometimes that thought is so overwhelming to me that I just want to step back and say I can’t do it–what if I fail? Or if folks don’t like it, I don’t want to be blamed. Then I could say, “I didn’t do it!” What if my words don’t make sense? What if they don’t get it?
As we commence our meetings, focus on the task ahead. Focus your thoughts on the impact this could, would, should make in the Army. How will it impact you?
Change my heart, O God–this chorus will bring us into a time of prayer and preparation as we begin the process of putting together the territorial vision statement. I am not ashamed to tell you that I am scared–scared that I will not be able to verbalize my thoughts in clear, concise phrases. Scared that the statement will not encompass all that needs to be said for years, in 10 years and 20 years. There are changes taking place in our world that will change the way people think–things that were once abnormal and immoral are now normal and moral. If it feels good, it must be OK. Will our statement say who we are in those kinds of changes? But I am confident that if I leave my worries and cares in his hands, and ask for his guidance, there is nothing I can’t accomplish.
“Change my heart, O God.” Will you share with me this chorus as we truly seek the change in our hearts and in our direction this weekend? I will ask that several of you share in a word of prayer.
He’s the potter; I am only the clay, but I, you, can be shaped in his image.
–Becky Barnett, Yakima Corps soldier, is a member of the territory’s Guiding Coalition. She gave this devotion at a recent meeting.