The value of change

This column marks the beginning of my seventh year writing for the Reporter about life and faith. And during that time there have been countless changes in our community.

One of the most remarkable is the facelift that Mercer Island’s town center has undergone since 2005. And one facelift leads to another. Ironically, to focus on what has gone up before our very eyes, we have to lift our faces skyward. The construction of places like The Mercer, Island Square, Aljoya and 77 Central have changed the face of our town.

A few years ago we welcomed a farmers market adjacent to Farmer’s Insurance. The winds of change also resulted in the conversion of a gas station that was born-again as a fresh fish market (that actually serves fish and chips). The Boys and Girls Club was also reborn as the beautiful new PEAK facility became a reality. Things have changed big time.

But not all change is lasting. Remember that ice cream shop that opened up across from the North end QFC? Gone. So, too, the Australia-based bakery that set up shop across from Chick’s Shoes. Finders (a much-loved gift shop) proved not to be a keeper. Finders lost its bid to remain open.

In the past six years two legendary high school coaches retired, but not before Ed Pepple and Dick Nichol left a lasting mark on young lives. Two popular pastors retired as well. Dale Sewall and Paul Fauske leave shoes not easily filled.

Whereas change is inevitable, not all changes are deemed favorable. Like the road revision at Island Crest Way and Merrimount. Or the South end Starbucks’ decision to close at dinnertime. Or the decision to drop the D.A.R.E. program in our local schools. But change happens. Change is the currency with which we spend our lives.

Three weeks ago my wife and I flew back to Chicago to help with last-minute details before my middle daughter’s wedding. One errand Allison asked me to run was to take a large box of coins she’d collected over the past six years to the bank in exchange for paper money. Having noted how many pennies, nickels and dimes comprised that mountain of metal money, I was surprised at how much it amounted to. There was nearly $200 in that cardboard box.

Having left the bank, the thought occurred to me: Change is more valuable than we might think. I’m convinced that’s an axiom you can take to the bank.

I love the positive spin wise King Solomon used to define the inevitable change that takes us by the hand.

For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under heaven. A time to be born and a time to die. A time to plant and a time to harvest… A time to tear down and a time to build up. A time to cry and a time to laugh. A time to grieve and a time to dance… A time to embrace and a time to turn away. A time to search and a time to quit searching. A time to keep and a time to throw away. A time to tear and a time to mend. A time to be quiet and a time to speak… A time for war and a time for peace (Ecclesiastes 3:1-9).

Since it’s often undesired or forced upon us, we don’t easily welcome change. Since it’s disruptive and often difficult, we look for ways to dodge it. But if we are willing to embrace the change that God allows in our lives, we can learn to dance with it.

Pastor Greg Asimakoupoulos can be reached at

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