By Mike Gilland
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.
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 – but honestly, it was much harder for me than it should have been. It was the beginning of life lessons that I needed to learn. Change is both necessary and GOOD.
In 2002, another monumental change – a move to Gainesville, to be part of the church that we had planted from our Orlando fellowship five years earlier. This too was hard at first, but we quickly fell in love with our church and with Gainesville itself. The timing turned out to be perfect…my son transferred to Santa Fe Community College, and ended up at UF, a college pattern that was to be followed by both of my younger daughters.
Marriages to each of our remaining three followed, then – more changes, moves by the kids to Orlando, one to New York (then Portland). Ultimately – all three daughters ended up in Orlando, while my son moved to Texas. And now…we ourselves have moved once again…back to Orlando. Yep – lots of changes.
The Bible states in the first half of Ps. 37:23, “The steps of a man are established by the Lord”…(ESV). Behind each of these 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.
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!
Mike Gilland is Operations Manager for The Shepherd Radio Network, a group of radio stations in Florida that features the “Christian Teach/Talk” format. Mike hosts a daily talk radio show in the 2 PM hour called “Afternoons with Mike”, talking to local pastors and newsmakers. In Orlando, The Shepherd is heard on WIWA, AM 1270. In addition to his broadcast experience, Mike spent 36 years in full-time ministry as a pastor and worship leader. As a guitarist, Mike performs at concerts, restaurants, private parties, etc. He is married to Cindy, the father of four grown children and grandfather to seven grandchildren.