Gilland: Constant change is here to stay

The older I get, the more sentimental I become.

Family has always meant something very special to me, so it was hard for us to leave our parents behind when we moved to Florida in 1985 to become part of a new church that was being planted by a dear friend of mine.

In fact, I couldn’t have made that move had I not been confident that it was the will of God. Truth is, even being convinced in my heart that it was God’s will, it was still hard. But we did it—and found peace in the midst of sacrifice.

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At the time of our move, we had two children, but it wasn’t long before we began to desire more kids. God blessed us with two more daughters born here in the Sunshine State.

Our lives seemed complete. Surrounded by a beautiful wife, three lovely daughters and one son (who once said “Dad, what are we going to do with all these girls?”), I was one happy camper. Those early years in Orlando, with all my kids at home, seemed as if they would last forever. But, they didn’t.

First, my oldest daughter got married to her best friend in 1998. I thought I was ready for that event, but honestly, it was much harder for me to go through that transition than it should have been. It was the beginning of a few life lessons that I clearly needed to learn.

Change is both necessary and good.

In 2002, another monumental change. We moved to Gainesville, to be part of the church that our Orlando congregation had planted five years earlier.

This too was hard at first, but we quickly fell in love with our new church in Gator country, and with Gainesville itself. The timing turned out to be perfect, as my son transferred to Santa Fe College and ended up at UF. Both of my younger daughters followed the same college path.

After college years, marriages to each of our remaining three kids followed—and then more changes. Moves by two of the kids back to Orlando, and one to New York (then on to Portland). Ultimately, all three daughters ended up moving back to Orlando, while my son moved to Texas.

And a little over a year ago, change hit my wife and me in a big way, as I retired from full time ministry, became operations manager at the Shepherd, and moved—back to Orlando. Yeah, lots of changes.

The Bible states in the first half of Psalm 37:23, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord” (ESV). Behind each of those moves and marriages, the unseen hand of God’s providence was quietly at work. We just didn’t always see it, or appreciate what He was doing in the moment.

These experiences are not unique to our family. Many have already gone through similar events, and handled them with greater ease than did I.

But I have learned that one thing is certain. Though it is rarely easy, change is part of our lives. It is normal, natural, and inevitable. Sometimes change is even fun.

And now, when I look into the eyes of my grandkids, I can say that some of those changes were downright fantastic.

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