Holding Loosely

by Todd Buegler

“Noah did this; he did all that God commanded him.” – Genesis 6:22

It wasn’t in Noah’s plans.  The scriptures tell us that Noah was 600 years old when the earth was overcome by the waters of the flood. While we don’t know for certain, it probably never occurred to him that he and his family would be the ones saved from destruction, but that to do so, they would need to build an ark for themselves and for two of every living creature.  

Noah chose obedience, held loosely to his plans, and trusted in the grace of God.

Jonah had no desire to make his way to Nineveh.  Selected by God for this important mission, he took off in the opposite direction.  But God found Jonah and directed him back toward those who needed to hear the message of hope and salvation that Jonah carried.  

Jonah chose obedience, held loosely to his plans, and trusted in the grace of God.

Saul did his job with passion.  He would find those who followed Jesus and would bind them up and return them to Jerusalem for judgment.  And he had no desire to change.  But God had different plans for him.  And so after the scales fell from his eyes, and with a whole new identity, he was made aware of the power of God’s great love, he became the one whose writings gave shape to what 2,000 years and billions of people have believed.  

Paul chose obedience, held loosely to his plans, and trusted in the grace of God.

The scriptures are full of stories of God’s people holding loosely to their plans and learning to trust in the grace and the mission of God.  

And so, as God’s people in 2020, we are reminded that grace is a gift of God, and trust follows grace.  God calls on God’s people to trust in God’s abundance, love and promise.  Too often, we try and maintain our own sense of control.  But if ministry in 2020 has taught us anything, it has taught us that we are not in control.  The world is a broken, turbulent place and we cannot navigate these troubled waters by ourselves.  

And so, obediently, we trust in the work of the Holy Spirit in the midst of turbulent times.  And we partner with God, serving as God’s hands doing God’s work in a world that is in need of hope.  

We hold loosely, letting go of our need to control, creating space for the Spirit to work, and trusting in God, who has a vision for the world.  

Extravaganza 2021 explored God’s call to hold loosely to our own plans, and our need to control, and to trust in the one who comes to create, to redeem and to sustain.  God’s call for us to “Hold Loosely” and trust is more important now than ever, as we live and do ministry in a time of pandemic, of racial injustice and unrest, of social division and political turmoil.  

Our conversations at #ext21 will center around five questions:

  • How do we help those we work with navigate the grief of losing “normal?”  How do we navigate that same grief for ourselves?
  • How do we care for ourselves in the midst of accompanying others in their pain?
  • How do we navigate change?
  • What should we do next?
  • How do we find hope in the midst of chaos? 

It is in the words of Ephesians 2:8 that we are reminded that we place our trust in God’s grace, which provides guidance and direction during these hard days.  And that this grace is a gift that we discover when we hold loosely.  

“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God.”  – Ephesians 2:8

Todd Buegler is married to Lori. Together they have two sons, Nathan and Samuel, along with a dog and a cat. Todd is the senior pastor at Trinity Lutheran Church in Owatonna, Minnesota and serves as the Executive Director of the ELCA Youth Ministry Network

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