Tuesday, May 16, 2006

I thank my God every time I remember you. (Phil 1:3)

My heart is sad today. It has been made known that our preacher and his family are returning to their home in Tennessee. Although they have lived here for five years, I could always tell that Kansas was not their home; they were just passing through.

I must say that this news in no way is a shock to me. Being from the South, I understand the draw to living in that way of life. Family is of the utmost importance. Life is a little slower, more enjoyed. Friends are made to endure a lifetime, and pie is a given, as well as the church potlucks. Your family is not limited to those related to you, although there may be many. Respect is noted not only by the adults, but also by the young. To be called Ma’am is a title, an honor that you wear proudly.

Their time here has been hard. Imagine living in one place your entire life. You may have moved around a bit, one southern town to another, never moving too far from your family, always having them within driving distance. Your life with them has always been natural.

Although this is the life you know and are comfortable with in many ways, you feel the pull of God to leave. You pray - hard and long. You seek His wisdom and direction. You give it over to Him. And He answers.

Then imagine that you find yourself and your family transplanted into a completely alien terrain, hundreds of miles away from your very close family, in a completely different way of life. Everything is go, go, go. People are more reserved, less open to taking life a day at a time, but rather planning their future out to the last minute. Oh, and you happen to be living in THE most affluent county in America. You are not in Tennessee anymore, that is for sure.

Church is just different. There are lovely, Christian people, but it is not the same as what you have ever known. Less openness, more protection and less hugs, touches, or communing. You know God has sent you here; you believe that He has a plan and a mission. Perhaps it is to show them a new, more real way of life. It is not for you to know, just to do. Which you do with all your heart and joy.

Over the five years, imagine that both mothers pass away – first the husband’s, then most recently, the wife’s. Your heart, which has already be aching to see them, is now broken at the idea of this physical loss. Your matriarchs, both whom have been strong, guiding figures in both of your lives, have been removed from you not only in distance, but now in body. Two family members are gone; how many more will pass before you can be together with them again? Will your children miss out on knowing this kind of way of life? They are growing so quickly; time is fading away. If you want them to learn this beautiful upbringing, then it must be now.

You feel your heart calling you home, your real home – the home where most of your family resides, where you will always be a kid, where church is more than a place to go on Sunday. But is this of God or is it a pull to keep you from the good work you know, you see, you understand being done in Kansas?

So you turn to your decision maker again. You pray honestly and readily about it. Immediately, two things happen: A person driving by your home (that has no sign or indication that it will be for sale) stops and makes a good offer on your house if you should be in the market to sell. Then the next day, from out of the blue, you receive a call from your previous church offering you a position doing what you want to do, paying you what you will need.

Again God has answered loud and clear. And the move will be swift for you.

So to them I say thank you.

David, thank you for giving of yourself, for guiding me to a real understanding of God, of His grace and His being ever so active and present and real in my life. I am grateful that you made me look forward to sermons on Sundays, for making them interest, fun and encouraging and, most of all, applicable and challenging to me as a Christian. Thank you for being an example of Samuel, for listening to His bidding, for being an Isaiah, to answering His call to come here, for being an Ananias, for going to a place where you knew not what would happen – only that you must go.

Julie, thank you for being such a godly example of a Christian wife and woman. For giving of yourself in the teaching of our children, for being such a prayer warrior for a countless number of people, for being an example of rejoicing to no end. Thank you for being an example of Ruth, following your husband in the way that God has directed him, for being a Lydia and opening your home to any and all, for being a Mary, sitting at the Lord’s feet and listening intently to His words. You are a rendering in flesh of the Proverbs 31 woman.

Although, I have tears of sadness now, they are for our loss. Inside I have such joy that you will be with your family, that you will be back with your friends, that you will be teaching your children a wonderful way of life, southern style. My tears will fade to be replaced with smiles and memories of the goodness you have shared with this church.

May the peace of God be with you always, may you continue to seek His wisdom in every aspect of your life. May you look on your time here with joy and love. In the event that we do not see you again in this life, I look forward to seeing you on the other side, where there will be family and love aplenty for us all and, hopefully, pie to be shared around the feasting table.


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