You’d think I’d be used to this saying ‘good-bye” business but each time it hits me like a ton of bricks.
My hubby calls this phase we’re in now “Asbury Church 3.0” ~ the third time we start over with new leaders.
We have now pastored at this church for over 12 years. Every day sets a new record and Dave has lived here longer than anywhere else his entire life.
We have a tendency wherever we go to love deeply and live with open hearts. We take in strangers and make them quick friends. The problem and heartbreak come when God moves them on and we find ourselves saying “good-bye” again.
We live in a transient community with colleges and university our largest employers. Neighbors in the community change frequently. We have new faces coming in and friends moving out at a high frequency.
In this community,
- God calls us to love. So we love.
- God calls us to teach. So we teach.
- God calls us to train leaders. So we train… and then He moves them on.
Dave and I often say, “Let’s learn the lesson God is trying to teach us so we don’t have to go around this mountain again.”
So we love, teach and train then God says, “It’s time to say good-bye.” The mountain doesn’t seem to change but my response in the journey is morphing for the good.
To be honest there have been times I have said, “Enough! I’m done loving, I’m done teaching. I’m done training. We do the hard work and God moves them on.”
But then I stop in my tracks as I hear the Father’s tender whisper, “Who are you to tell the One who directs paths and gives good gifts that you are done.” (I don’t know how the Father talks with you, but sometimes I need a little Rachel rebuke.)
And really how can I tell the One who directs the wind and sets the boundaries of the sea when He can move people in or out of my life?
It doesn’t work that way and it’s not in the arrangement.
The arrangement is “He calls and we serve.”
It’s that simple and it’s that difficult.
Do I have a place to stand and argue with God? Not really.
When I think about righteous Job, he had some serious difficulties to gripe about yet still had no place to stand when up against the Maker of all things. (Job 38-41)
What difficulties have I faced in this calling of loving, teaching and training?
The simple difficulty and privilege of watching God grow people.
- God grows the shy wall-hugger into a deacon and sound-tech guru. He grows their family from newlyweds to parents of three… and then He moves them on to a distant place.
- God grows my single friend alone on the front row with me, to the worship team then onto elder. He grows her to become a wonderful wife and loving mother… and then calls her away to the west side of the country.
- God grows again and again and then He grows them on to new places and new adventures. Then He grows and grows again, again, and again.
And now God, the Giver of all good gifts, has chosen the airplane mechanic that walked through our doors 12 years ago and grown him through the stages of teacher and elder to credentialed minister. God grows their family from role to role and now into a lead pastorate in another state.
Over the years this man not only grows from mechanic to minister but he, his wife and his children grow into a deep part of our hearts and that’s the hardest part.
That’s always the hardest part of what God calls us to do. God calls us to love, so we love. God calls us to teach, so we teach. God calls us to train, so we train. And God calls us to let them go… so we let them go.
And that’s really the greatest thing.
Our ministry motto is this: “Making disciples who make disciples.”
And I guess that’s what we’re doing. We are loving, teaching and training. And they, in turn, leave to love, teach and train. What more could we ask for? What more could we want?
Pastor Adam, Amanda, Seth, Mackenzie and Levi,
We love you dearly. You have grown to a deep place in our hearts and the hole you leave will not easily be filled.
Thank you for loving our children. Thank you for loving our people and thank you for being our friends.
“Now… may the Lord bless you and keep you. Make His face shine upon you. May the Lord be gracious unto you, lift His countenance upon you and give you peace. Go in His strength and in His might. Hug a few necks on the way out… and God bless!”
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