We’re revisiting some old stomping grounds this week. Coming back to a place that’s familiar as breathing. A place where children were born and grew, a place where transitions happened in life and work.
A place that is strange and familiar like a long lost friend whose face you didn’t immediately recognize.
A place where we cut our eye teeth on life and ministry and full-time committment to Calling.
It was a place where God worked in and through us and others. Where we experienced the desert and glimpses of the Promised Land.
A place where we were called to and called out of.
What a strange, loving, glorious, uncomfortable state of being it is to have been part of a healthy church. To be part of a place where you see God’s hand at work in the midst of the workings of striving, imperfect people.
And then you’re not. Then God calls you out and away and you go, but you grieve and you pray, and then you watch from afar.
And then the hard part starts. And this is the difficult part of having been and served in a healthy church.
They move forward. They move forward and they’re healthy and inspired and led by the Spirit. And a tiny, unsanctified part of you wishes, just a little, that they weren’t, and they didn’t, without you there.
But you know deep inside that they are doing exactly as intended. That the work that you did and the work that they did and the listening and obeying that you both did has kept them on a journey of seeking and following God.
The ministries that you helped to start flourish without you, because if you did it right, they’re supposed to. The people you loved and served flourish. Because they’re supposed to.
And things carry on beyond you because if you served right, if people committed to God, and each other, and God’s mission, then of course they did.
Because it’s not about you.
It’s not about people following you, it’s about them following God.
It’s not about their committment to you, it’s about committment to God, and each other.
So it’s hard having served in a healthy church. It’s hard because it will carry on without you. Because it should.
You will be missed, you will be loved, you may be remembered by some and an addition to the church annals to others.
But your service and the words of God you spoke will not return empty. God saw and sees and knows and is gracious to have included you in his all-seeing and far-reaching plan for that time in that place.
And it was good and hard and glorious and perplexing.
And it was service, seen and unseen, remembered or not. But it was.
And God calls you forward to the I-don’t-know-what-and-when. Leaving you with the lessons and memories and wishes for that place where you loved and served and bled.