The moment I climbed into the rubber raft on the Peshtigo River, I knew I was way out of my comfort zone. Though the water was shallow and smooth, I kept muttering “We’re all gonna die!” Then reality struck. We all paddled furiously, navigating a Class Three rapid. We hit a rock in the center and our raft flipped, spilling us into the cold, churning waters. I tumbled helplessly under the surface, terrified.

Finally, I surfaced. Gasping for air, I drifted downstream where a rescuer stationed in mid-river caught me. I was hyperventilating–and amazed to find the water was only three feet deep! With help I waded ashore. Then I shouted: “Let’s do it again!” That decision transformed my fears into a great adventure.

Over the past three decades, my wife Beth and I have seen plenty of change at Alpine. The church as it is today is vastly different from the small group who originally met in gym of Seth Paine Elementary. How we “do” church has changed a lot, too. But through still waters and turbulent rapids, God has guided and grown us. As we face whatever changes lie ahead, may I suggest three ways to navigate them gracefully?

First, we must recalibrate our minds. God will use change to grow us … if we’ll let Him. We can’t become adults without relinquishing childhood. Let’s re-focus on the adventure and the benefits, not on what we may lose in the process.

Second, we must embrace change. Let’s cooperate with God in the adventure, surrendering to the experience. Let’s rejoice in what God is trying to accomplish in us and through us for His glory. Let’s enjoy the ride!

Finally, we must navigate the changes with grace. God wants to use us to bless others. We are all experiencing change together. To get the most out of our ride, let’s pull our weight in the raft. Let’s encourage one another and bless those who are in the same boat with us.

Romans 8:28-29 tells us that “all things work together for the good of those who love God.” Then it tells us why: God is in the process of directing the course of our lives so that at the end of the journey, we will be like His Son, Jesus. There’s a divine purpose in the changes we all experience! Let’s navigate them gracefully, with thanksgiving to the One who is making all things new.