Here this Sunday, my wife and I will attend our local church for the last time as members. While the Lord alone knows about the future, the present is what I’m referring to here in this article. Over the past five years, we’ve developed many friendships and have been involved in many ministries at our local church. While it’s been a refreshing season of not having any teaching or leadership responsibility for me, it’s also been also a season to focus on my marriage.
Here in one week from today my wife and I leave Southern Idaho for the Palmdale, California area. We’re both very excited about this transition and for what the Lord will do in this season. We’ve spent most of this year dreaming and making some plans (committing them also to the Lord) about what this new season of life looks like for us, which has been so good for both of us.
Saying goodbye to people I love is not something I’ve ever been good at. Back in February, I asked one of my pastors how he would like me to handle my impending move. He advised me well. He encouraged me that stepping aside and giving plenty of time for people to know I’m not involved in leadership in the Men’s ministry and teaching the men regularly at the Men’s Bible study would be a wise move. So I followed his counsel and did as he requested stepping down after the Men’s Retreat at the beginning of May of this year.
Since that time, I’ve been growing in a lot of ways, one of the biggest is in finding my identity more in Christ than in ministry. I haven’t been writing many articles during this period actually now I realize I haven’t written much at all this year; I hope to see that change, Lord-willing here soon. There are a lot of things I want to write about, but I’ve also needed a season for the Lord to work on me. We all need that you know? For me, I think the thing was I was finding more of my identity in the things I was doing at church or even here at Servants of Grace than in the Lord. Sure, it’s great to see people interact in a big way with the content we produce but it’s not ultimate. It’s also not more important than my union with Christ and daily communing with Christ. My ministry is also not more important than my marriage. Instead, it’s because I’m spending time in communion with Christ that I have something to say, teach, and minister to others.
Since I’m being honest here, one specific way the Lord has been teaching me is in the area of my thought life. I often struggle as I’ve written about many times in the past with anxiety and depression. In this season of life, I’m seeking to apply the truth of Scripture to my thought life. That means taking Scripture and meditating and reflecting on it. That has been such a massive help to me especially with feelings of doubt, and anxiety about our house and closing on it. It’s also been a rather difficult time on top of this in getting rid of two of my dogs, Elion and Jesse here soon who are going to the Idaho Humane Society next week. I’ve become very attached to those two dogs. We will thankfully be keeping Joseph, my yellow-white lab, I raised since a puppy who now is almost nine years old now. Wow, it’s hard to believe that much time has gone by. We will also be keeping our two cats.
Now why I’m writing this article? Well, some of it is to share about what the Lord is doing and where my wife and I are headed. The other reason is to encourage you. In your own life, you may have to say goodbye to people you love. And that’s never easy; especially when it’s the last time. In my case, this will not be the last time I see many of the people at my local church (especially as we’re coming back up to Idaho next month) but there is still a finality about it, even as it’s been a prolonged goodbye, which has made this all the harder.
I came to Idaho a 27-year-old young man freshly married to a beautiful godly woman for one year to now being almost 37 years old this coming February. My time here in Idaho has often been hard for me; especially the first few years moving away from my parents and Seattle, a city I still love dearly. Over time though the people of the greater Boise, Idaho have made a deep impression on me as they are a kind, caring, thoughtful, and loving people. I’ve also come to the love especially the local church and the people I’ve been blessed to do life with at the past five years at my local church. They have been extremely helpful to me and have continually pointed me to Christ.
You see there are many reasons why saying goodbye is hard for me and why writing over the past many months and why even specifically writing this article has been hard for me. Here I am finally able to write this article, and I’m at peace as I know the Lord is with me, that He is near to me, and that he wholeheartedly loves me. The knowledge of His love compels me on. My identity is wholly in Christ as I am entirely His and He is utterly mine. After all, it’s not about me at all; it’s about Jesus. And as I leave Idaho, that’s the best place to be in Christ, enjoying my union with Christ and daily communing more with Christ.
While saying goodbye is still hard for me; it’s done now with the knowledge that the people who have impacted me the most don’t leave me. No, their thoughts and impact on my life go with me. They invested heavily in me and showed me more of what it means to be a man of God. Now, as I go out, I go out as a man continually being formed by the Lord Jesus and with the knowledge, they are only a text, phone call or Skype call away. At the end of the day that encourages me and puts a smile on my face.
In your own life, you may have many opportunities to say goodbye to people. The Lord may take you to another place in your state, or perhaps to another state or part of the world entirely. Even so, there are still challenges ahead for all of us. Since we are fully loved, fully secured in the Father’s sovereign hand because of Christ, we are safe in His sovereign hand.
As my wife and I prepare here this week to pack up the final things in my house and hand over the keys to this house next Friday, I’m reminded once again, the possessions I “own” are not really mine. They are a stewardship entrusted to me. Whether it’s a ministry, my marriage, or my health—all these things are stewardship, a gift from the hand of the Lord, like the money from the sale of this house. My prayer in this season is that I would continue to be a faithful steward of what the Lord has entrusted to me for the sake of His name for the spread of His glory among the nations. I hope that’s your prayer as well today whatever season of life you may be in right now.