It all started when the worship leader announced he took the hymn “The Solid Rock” and changed it up a bit. I thought, “Nooo! Don’t do that! It’s good as it is.” So many memories tied to that song, and it’s in 3/4 time, so it’s already perfect.
About 22 years ago, California experienced the Loma Prieta quake. I don’t remember the exact magnitude (6.7? 6.9?) but it shook our tiny Bible college and the surrounding area but good. We had no major damage, a beam down in the gym and offices and the library were overturned, yet everyone was safe. Folks in Santa Cruz couldn’t return to their now-condemned houses. Overpasses collapsed. It even messed up The World Series. It was worthy of national attention and aid.
President Foth closed campus until the following Monday, with the earthquake occuring on a Tuesday, I believe. Students returned to their family homes in droves, going as far away as Montana for comfort and reassurance. I stayed put. I couldn’t see driving 12 hours one way and then driving back a couple days later when I was fine. Yes, it was scary, as aftershocks continued to rock the area long after the initial quake. It rained, there were mudslides and the general atmosphere of Scotts Valley was: what now? It was as if the earth had taken over, asserted some ancient right that nobody had the paperwork on. What we knew of times and seasons changed.
President Foth tried to comfort a shaken student body, get them focused on returning and completing another academic year. I remember many chapels where we sang that hymn “The Solid Rock”. He was reminding us that Jesus never changes, even when all that we know shifts and moves and morphs into unknown territory. It was a lullaby of sorts. It soothed the child in all of us, reminding us where our stability and life could be found.
Today, I find myself in a strange place. Everything I knew is shaken, my self-perceptions, understanding of relationships, even what I thought my life would be all about. Even the season is changing from summer to fall. Mid-life crisis? Maybe. I am going to take an active role in children’s ministry. I say that with a rueful laugh, because I was always the person that hated babysitting. I didn’t much like my childhood and remember very little of it. I didn’t really think I’d ever have kids. And now I have a heart for them. That is God’s doing, not mine. I might be going back to work full-time. It’s all up for grabs.
The worship leader’s rearranged hymn, with shifting time signatures and newly minor chords could not quench the original message of the hymn: Christ is our solid rock, no matter the season.