A martyr’s pose, a burden, and a call to serve

My church has various community groups that meet on Sunday nights in homes for food, instruction, and, of course, community. Five classes are offered in the course of a year, each set in an eight-week rotation. The children have their meal and instruction at the church building and their teachers rotate each 8 weeks.

Yeah, it’s complicated but it works.

I am currently three weeks into my eight week children’s teaching responsibility. I have lamented loud and often over my dislike of teaching children, criticized teachers whose groups run late and whose participants are thus late in picking up their kids, and just generally whined and cried all the while striking a rather dramatic martyr’s pose.

Just keepin’ it real.

Something my husband said to me recently drew me up short and made me realize for all my disdain, I had been given both a privilege and an opportunity—one I had actually volunteered for, mind you—even if it wasn’t the sort of privilege and opportunity I most enjoyed. I’ve always maintained that I will rock the babies during my turn in the nursery and, yes, teach the children (for eight weeks a year, mind you) because someone once rocked my babies and taught my children, affording me the opportunity of a few moments’ peace and an uninterrupted among grown ups, yes and amen. In other words, I always thought I was serving the moms and I do.

I also serve the children. Sure, they interrupt me when I’m talking and they can’t remember one week’s lesson from the next and they surely would prefer a funner and funnier teacher (I would!). Hello, I don’t even do crafts.

But I do have a burden: Biblical literacy. Thus what motivates me to teach women on Sunday mornings in Sunday school and on Tuesdays in Bible study also motivates me to teach children on Sunday evenings. So every lesson I emphasize the following points:

  • Everyone has a Bible in front of them. We work together to find the correct passage and we read it together. We rejoice in the incredible, amazing privilege we have to read and hear God’s Word for ourselves!
  • We pray before our lesson because we acknowledge that God is the author of His Word and we need His Spirit to help us understand. We want to know more about Jesus, about the gospel, about God, about ourselves, and about the Bible. These things are spiritually understood and we need the guidance of the Spirit so we prayerfully and humbly ask.

These are simple truths but they are truths that I didn’t fully grasp until I was an adult and once I did, my spiritual life was radically changed. My passion is for others to see the beauty of God in Christ as revealed in His living Word. May the Lord do so and more in the lives of the children who must suffer my teaching on Sunday evenings!

I know that we all want to serve in ways we most enjoy. Sometimes we get to; sometimes, however, the need lies in the sort of service that tries our patience and exposes our arrogance. I am ashamed of those times in my life. Let me save you the same heartache and remind you: it is our privilege to serve others as Christ served His disciples, on His knees washing their feet.

I daresay your church is like mine and is in need of willing volunteers, particularly in children’s ministry. If you belong to the Lord Jesus then you have a message to share and a story to tell and, whether you are a man or a woman, whether you feel gifted or called, the next generation needs to hear them. My story is not your story, thankfully, but all our stories fit together in the grand, glorious Story of grace and redemption found only in Jesus Christ. May you find a need and fill it, serving others as you have been served!

Five years!

Yesterday my church celebrated five years since our charter. Five years! What a testimony to the Lord’s goodness! He has been faithful and we are so very grateful.

As I reflect on five years of the Lord’s goodness to us, I am sometimes surprised when I think of the church culture I grew up with and the sort of church I belong to now.

The two church experiences, my church past and my church present, couldn’t be more different. My church is small by most anyone’s standards. The church of my youth could well have been considered a mega church, the seventh grade Sunday school department alone larger than my current church by twice (at least). The church of my growing up years was beautifully decorated with stained glass and dark polished wood. There was an organ, the choir sang in choir robes, and men wore three piece suits. Today I worship in a former insurance office and the music consists of a guitar, a mandolin and a banjo. And a djembe. The children have Sunday school in a former doctor’s office a few doors down. We don’t even have a playground!

A couple of weeks ago we were out of town and went to church with my sister and her family. She attends one of the largest churches in the country and while the service was challenging and convicting, I felt this same sort of dichotomy. My church is not only vastly different than the church of my younger self, it also lacks many of the accoutrements that mark today’s, more hip, church experience. No light show, no fancy stage design, no drum set, no concert-like vocals, no cool graphics on the large screen.

But I love my church. I am thankful we are who we are. We are family. We are committed to the authority and sufficiency of Scripture. My pastor faithfully and boldly preaches from the Word of God as the Word of God. We love each other. We know each other well enough to sometimes drive each other crazy but we decide to love each other anyway. We work through difficult issues as friends and brothers and sisters in Christ. We bear each other’s burdens, we rejoice with those who rejoice, we weep with those who weep.

I do not intend to imply that all of those things are somehow missing from the mega church of today or the church I grew up in and certainly not the church we left to begin this one. I am, however, grateful that the Lord in His providence brought us to this kind of church, a church with little to boast in but our love for the Lord and our love for each other. What grace.

I missed our celebration yesterday due to a massive headache that had me glued to the sofa and wishing to die already. Though I was bitterly disappointed to not be there to lift an Ebenezer stone as it were in acknowledgement of our faithful God, I am confident that we will continue to see the Lord’s goodness to us. Thus far the Lord has brought us, and He will continue His good work in us and through us and for us, yes and amen. I cannot wait to see what the next five years hold! To God be the glory, great things He hath done!

Surprised but grateful

There is a hospital bed in my living room and a wheelchair in the corner. A bottle of prescription pain relievers sits on the kitchen counter with a scribbled list of dosing times attached via post it note.

My husband wrecked on his bicycle Wednesday, breaking his collarbone and his hip, injuries that, while terribly painful, are also fixable, glory to God. It could be worse, far worse.

I can’t help but think of those for whom a hospital bed and wheelchair are far more than aids to recovery but a fact of life for months, even years. I think of the medical supply truck that I would see unloading box after box at a home here in my neighborhood. That house now stands empty and a for sale sign is posted in the front yard. Our current circumstances require only time to heal; some do not have that hope.

I got the call about the wreck around 1:30 Wednesday afternoon and left quickly to meet the ambulance at the ER. I texted my pastor on my way and within the hour he and two other elders from my church and one of their wives were there, standing with me by the gurney. Over the course of the evening and over these past couple of days church members, coworkers, friends, family, fellow cyclists, all have been kind enough to call, to stop by, to pray, even to build a wheelchair ramp at my back door.

“If we can do anything let us know” I’ve been told time and time again. From my husband’s peloton of fellow riders to our church family, everyone who has told me so has meant it and I know it and I am grateful for it. My phone nearly blew up with all the care and concern and I am thankful for each text message and phone call. We are loved and loved well. It is as humbling as it is encouraging.

In Sunday school at my church we are discussing the book Surprised by Suffering by R.C. Sproul. The coincidence is surely providential because, really, we certainly didn’t expect this. Who does? My husband suffers, the pain is, well, painful, and the frustration real, but we know the Lord is faithful and the body will heal. We believe Him.

So if you would, pray for my husband as he recovers, that the Lord’s would be gracious to grant a quick healing of bone and body and for patience as we wait on Him to do so. Thank you, friends. Your care, concern, and intercession on our behalf are blessings we do not take for granted. We appreciate you all so much!

The weight and the privilege of the promise

I grew up in a very large, “mega”church. By contrast I am now part of what would be considered by most standards a small church. In fact my current church’s average attendance is probably less than the number of attendees in my ninth grade Sunday school department!

I love my small church and while I certainly hope and pray for the Lord to grow us numerically even as He continues to grow us spiritually I love that we are small, that we know each other so well, that my kids are learning from a cross-generational body of believers, and that for all our individual weaknesses and idiosyncrasies we love each other and encourage one another and sharpen one another. We are family in the good, the bad and the ugly.

And, yes, sometimes there’s ugly. Because we are in community, a close community at that, not to mention a close community comprised of sinners, all of us, well, sometimes we misunderstand each other, sometimes feelings get hurt, sometimes one or the other of us will drive someone else crazy. It happens. We’re family.

But also like family we are bound together by something far stronger than mere miscommunication can break. The blood of Christ binds us and keeps us in covenant with Him and with each other. Covenant sounds like a strangely old fashioned term, and maybe it is, but the promises we make to each other–our covenant–hold us to each other.

We have a formal, written covenant in which the promises we make to each other as a body of believers before the Lord are clearly spelled out. We recite our covenant aloud at least once a month corporately in our worship service, just before we observe the Lord’s supper. Like a covenant itself this practice may seem strangely old fashioned and rather liturgical, and maybe it is, but again the promises we make to each other, and audibly recite alongside each other, hold us to each other.

In our covenant we make promises to the Lord and to our fellow church members about what we will do and how we will act and I am always humbled as I say these things aloud. I see the weight and the privilege of the promise and I am thankful for grace, the grace of the Lord and the grace of my church family, both having promised to love and care and encourage and confront and seek my good.

I love my church. I love my Lord. I love that He has granted me, us, my family, the privilege of serving Him alongside this group of redeemed sinners who love me and love Him.

To God be the glory in His church!

 

If you are interested, here is my church’s covenant in its entirety.

The Basis for our joining together as members is our relationship with God the Father through the work of his son Jesus Christ communicated to us by the Holy Spirit.

As a member, I joyfully agree to walk together with the members of this church by making the following commitments:

  • I will rejoice in the grace of God, privately and corporately giving thanks to our heavenly Father for the sacrifice of his son Jesus, for the forgiveness of our sins, and for the gift of the Holy Spirit who empowers us to believe and live for the glory of God.
  • I will live together with my brothers and sisters in love, just as God has loved us. I will seek their good through forming relationships that promote holiness, discipleship, worship, and sound doctrine.
  • I will, as God enables me, care for my brothers and sisters in Christ in distress, sickness and poverty.
  • I will not neglect to meet together in corporate worship and in small group fellowship in those settings that the church provides.
  • I will devote myself to the study of Scripture and to prayer both privately and through group contexts.
  • I will seek to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ through seeking progressive growth in holiness through the application of the means of grace as taught in Scripture.
  • I will seek to advance the proclamation of the gospel through those relationships God has afforded me in my family, my workplace, and my community, and support those whom the church sends to proclaim the gospel beyond our locale.
  • I will seek to serve the church’s ministries through regular giving of my time, effort, and money.
  • I will pursue reconciliation when offense occurs between myself and another member, and I will reject all opportunities to speak or to hear gossip or slander.
  • I will watch out for church members and admonish anyone whose practice of sin requires it. If one of our number requires corporate discipline, I will support the efforts and direction of the church, as led by its elders, to call that member to repent of his sins. I agree with the church’s doctrine and practice of church discipline.
  • I will promote marriage as a reflection of Christ’s relationship with his church and bring up any children God gives me in the discipline and instruction of the Lord.
  • I will, if I move from this place, unite with some other church where I can carry on the spirit of this agreement and the teaching of God’s Word.

God heard, God remembered, God saw, and God knew

One Tuesday several weeks ago I had lunch with three friends and one very precocious three-year old. These are friendships newly formed by virtue of the Bible study I teach; hence our conversation swung across a wide spectrum of topics.

We attend different churches and at one point we began to discuss our church experiences, where we are as well as where we’ve been. One of us (me) is in a church split-turned-plant. One is on the staying end of a split and one had her own story of damaged reputation and mischaracterized motivations. Here’s a newsflash for you: church can be messy business, no doubt about it.

I thought later about the lesson I had taught that very morning about the slavery the people of Israel endured prior to the miracle of the Exodus. I thought of the four hundred years they waited and watched and suffered and (surely) wondered and doubted. I remember my own seasons, both church-related and not, that though I did not suffer cruel bondage nor the horror of infanticide as the Israelites did, I too despaired of the Lord’s faithfulness. To my limited understanding, He seemed distant and unwilling to act. As my waiting grew long, my doubts loomed large.

Exodus 2:23-25 tells us where God was during the Israelite’s affliction and what He was doing:

During those many days the king of Egypt died, and the people of Israel groaned because of their slavery and cried out for help. Their cry for rescue from slavery came up to God. And God heard their groaning, and God remembered his covenant with Abraham, with Isaac, and with Jacob. God saw the people of Israel—and God knew.

What a comfort to the weary and the waiting! God hears, God remembers, God sees, and God knows. This passage reminds me yet again that my salvation is wholly a work of God. I am as unable to save myself from my sin and my doubt as the Israelites were to rescue themselves from the cruel oppression of the Egyptians. God must–and does–accomplish it.

He saved the nation of Israel through a mighty display of His power. Two million slaves just walk away from their oppressors? Not to mention the parting of the Red Sea, manna every morning, and water from a rock! Amazing. Incredible. A miracle.

Even greater is the salvation, the rescue, the exodus, accomplished by Jesus Christ. Through the life, death and resurrection of His Son God saved His children from the bondage to sin and death. We who belong to Christ are free and if the Son has set us free we are free indeed!

Hebrews tells us that Moses, this great deliverer, this leader and shepherd of the people of God, the Lord’s instrument to accomplish so great an exodus, considered the reproach of Christ of greater wealth than all the treasure of Egypt because he was looking to the reward (Heb. 11:24-26). This both convicts and shames me. My friends and I, we have all borne reproach in one way or another, and I do not speak merely in terms of church stuff. Any one of us who confess faith in Christ has endured seasons of darkness and doubt. I cannot speak for my friends but I do know that sometimes I endured it well because I had seen the salvation of the Lord and I valued the treasure of Christ as far greater. Other times, however, I didn’t look to the reward at all, looking instead to my self-justified resentment and bitterness.

The Lord is faithful to save! I was enslaved to the cruel taskmaster of sin but Jesus set me free! He is my reward, the great Treasure of this life and the next. Nothing compares to Him! He hears, He sees, He knows…and He rescues. What hope is ours! What joy! What grace!

Despite the differing details of our experiences, my friends and I all shared a common testimony: the Lord was faithful beyond our imagining. We have seen the salvation of the Lord and we rejoice in it. We placed our trust, our reputation, our reproach on Christ and He did not disappoint. God heard, God remembered, God saw, and God knew.

I love my church

I love my church.

We first began meeting together four years ago this month, our early gatherings taking place in somebody’s driveway, us sitting in our lawn chairs and fanning in the July heat, kids running hither and thither, our hearts bruised yet hopeful as we prayed and discussed and then decided we would do this thing, Lord willing.

We believed the Lord to provide because, beyond a name, covenant, and constitution and 70 or 80 willing souls, we had little else with which to build a church.

It turns out it’s the Lord who builds and that truth is our joyful, humble testimony.

It may seem we haven’t accomplished all that much in four years’ time. I mean, we meet in a strip office building. Some of those who began with us left us (for a variety of reasons and with no ill will). Our numbers are small by most standards. Our youth group only occasionally reaches double digits in attendance. Our children have Sunday school in a windowless former doctor’s office. We don’t even have a sink beyond the standard bathroom sink with which to fill a coffee pot.

That’s what you might see if you were to look with a merely cursory glance. But the truth is that the Lord has been faithful to us in countless ways. We may meet in an office complex but the Lord has blessed us with the financial resources to purchase twenty acres with an eye toward a building of our own. He has sent families and individuals to join our fellowship, glory to His name. In fact even as small as we are international with a Haitian member and a South African member! Who but the Lord? We are privileged to hear the Word preached with power and conviction. Our hearts are forged together with the kind of fellowship and love known only by blood bought sons and daughters of the Lord. We love each other. We enjoy each other. We love the Lord. We love His Word. We are not perfect and certainly we have our problems and old sin natures like any other group but we stand firm in one spirit and strive together side by side for the faith of the gospel. We are family.

In my forty-plus years of church attendance and participation I’ve never known anything like what I know now in this church with this group of believers. I am grateful. I am humble. I am blessed.

We could not have known all that the Lord would do for our good and for His glory. In fact, if truth be told, four years ago I worried much and, yes, even doubted some. My heart had been broken by the events of that July and though my husband and I knew what the Lord required of us and we eagerly stepped forward in willing obedience I could not escape the occasional twinge that wondered “Will He?” Will He provide financially for us to rent a meeting space and pay our pastors? Will He lead us and direct us through the hard work of a church split-turned-plant? Will He sustain us as we bear the reproach and loss of reputation that accompanies a situation like ours? Will He bless this leap of faith or are we crazy? 

Will He? I had wondered, I doubted. But I discovered that oh, yes, He will. He did. He does.

So as another July marks another year of our journey together as the people of the Lord in this local fellowship we raise our Ebenezer and we boast: This far the Lord has brought us! Behold the grace and goodness of our faithful God! He alone is worthy of all praise and honor and glory!

What He has done among us, for His glory and the sake of His Son, is so precious that I can scarcely remember without tears in my eyes. He is so good to us. I do not understand it but I rejoice in it.

My heart is tender to those of you reading this who have no idea of this kind of fellowship laboring together side by side for the sake of the gospel. I understand. I know. I’ve been there. Stay strong and fight the good fight! The Lord is faithful. He sees and He knows and He is able to do more than you can ask or imagine. Maybe He will bring you to a church split or maybe He will be more gentle with you than that! I know that He calls you to be faithful in whatever realm of influence He’s granted you, however large or however small. Wherever you are and whatever your circumstance, know that you can be steadfast in hope as you boldly proclaim the good news that Jesus saves. The One who calls is faithful and He is more than enough, He is everything.

Nearly every post I’ve written regarding our church situation rightfully ends with the heartfelt disclaimer that I bear no ill will nor do I write thumbing my nose at my former church. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless both our fellowships and that together we may be a gospel influence in our community for the sake of the kingdom and for the glory of God! Yes, Lord! Let it be!

My heart is glad

Psalm 16 was part of my Bible reading this morning…

Preserve me, O God, for in you I take refuge.
I say to the LORD, “You are my Lord;
I have no good apart from you.”
As for the saints in the land, they are the excellent ones,
in whom is all my delight.

The sorrows of those who run after another god shall multiply;
their drink offerings of blood I will not pour out
or take their names on my lips.

The LORD is my chosen portion and my cup;
you hold my lot.
The lines have fallen for me in pleasant places;
indeed, I have a beautiful inheritance.

I bless the LORD who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the LORD always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.

Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.

You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.

This is one of my favorite Psalms. The Lord is my chosen portion and my cup; indeed I have a beautiful inheritance! He has made known to me the path of life and in His presence is fullness of joy! Yes and amen! Today, as I reflect on worshipping with my friends and fellow church members this morning, my heart is full and I cannot help but praise the Lord. Discussing the gospel in Sunday school, talking about the things of the Lord with a new friend, singing songs of praise, hearing God’s word proclaimed with power and passion–a beautiful inheritance, oh yes, and fullness of joy. I love my church family. I love my church. I love God’s Word. I love the gospel. I love my Savior. My heart is glad and my whole being rejoices; I have no good apart from Him!

How deep the Father’s love

It is the first Sunday of January, the first Lord’s Day of the new year, our second anniversary of chartering together as a church. I could, and perhaps will, given the time and inclination, write about both of those things, the new year as well as the Lord’s faithfulness to us as a church. Today, however, I want to share the words to one of the hymns we sang this morning. “How Deep the Father’s Love for Us” seems appropriate as I ponder the close of 2010 and the beginning of 2011, as well as our journey together as a church just two years’ old. It’s the gospel that reminds me of the depth of the Father’s love, it’s the gospel that moves me to gratitude for His gracious blessings, it’s the gospel that compels me to desire to serve Him with greater boldness and passion, it’s the gospel binds my heart with those of my sisters and brothers. How deep is the Father’s love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died; glory to His name!

How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He would give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure

How great the pain of searing loss
The Father turns His face away
As wounds which mar the chosen One
Bring many sons to glory

Behold the Man upon a cross
My guilt upon His shoulders
Ashamed, I hear my mocking voice
Call out among the scoffers

It was my sin that held Him there
Until it was accomplished
His dying breath has brought me life
I know that it is finished

I will not boast in anything
No gifts, no powr’s, no wisdom
But I will boast in Jesus Christ
His death and resurrection

Why should I gain from His reward?
I cannot give an answer
But this I know with all my heart
His wounds have paid my ransom

©1995 Kingsway’s Thankyou Music
Words and Music by Stuart Townend

Future Mission Headquarters

Some of you–long time readers and those of you who know me in real life–are probably familiar with our church journey. Suffice it to say, the Lord has been faithful to us in countless ways, not the least of which is providing us with the financial wherewithal to purchase twenty acres with the long range vision of a permanent meeting location. How amazing is that! To God be the glory! Being a part of this, the Lord’s work, is so exciting and amazing and incredible and nearly every other superlative I can think of; it is also humbling and daunting and nearly every other description of the kind of state that reminds us again and again it is His work, His grace, His glory, His church.


Anyway, in thinking along those lines I wanted to share with you an excerpt of our church newsletter this week concerning the land and our stewardship of it. It’s a guest post of sorts by my pastor Brad Williams (who blogs, when he blogs, at Sojourner), posted with his permission of course…

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So Now We’ve Got Some Land!

We have, officially, made one payment on the twenty acres that we bought. Pretty soon, we are going to make another payment on it. Currently, it is growing weeds that Steve and Todd are graciously mowing down with their bush hogs. It is even pretty rough for that. I think that Todd broke a blade and Steve had his kidneys rattled out of place on the back side of the property. They also found lawn chairs, tires, bottles, and all sorts of interesting things lying there under the deep the grass.
This chunk of property that we have is our most expensive asset. It is going to cost us even more in the future. We need to have it smoothed out so it can be mowed without fear of our brethren being bucked off their tractors. We also need to take down the bank on the front side so we can level off the front for more space to build. We need to kill the thistles and sow grass. We have to figure out a way to keep the “creek” at the low part of the property from becoming a mosquito swamp. This is even before we smooth out the ground so we can pour concrete and build a building.
But I have big dreams of what this property could look like one day. I dream of turning the potential mosquito creek into a beautiful pond with a pier and a little gazebo. I think it would be lovely to have a walking track go around it. Instead of seeing thistles and wild weeds, I dream of a lovely stand of Bermuda grass. On the high side of the property, I can envision a stand of Leland Cypress trees providing a beautiful backdrop for our pond and walking track. This does not even include the nice building I dream about that overlooks this picturesque scene in my mind. Wouldn’t all that be beautiful? Maybe you can even dream up a better picture!
Here is the reality: while that piece of property is our single most expensive asset, it is not the most valuable. Not even close. Even if we fix it up to be the grandest property in the county, it will be unable to produce a single follower of Jesus Christ. It will never even make a single payment for its own upkeep, much less support a missionary in Argentina. It is, in the end, a tool. It is a thing that will come to reflect us as a church, and it will demonstrate where our priorities lie in the way that we use it.
So here is how we ought to be dreaming when we dream. Think of that little piece of weedy ground as the future mission headquarters. Think of it as a launching pad. From that place, in this town, we will provide a haven from the enemy and lies that he tells. As a mission headquarters, it will be a place where we teach others what it means to be a follower of Jesus Christ. It is a place where we will come for encouragement, camaraderie, and to regroup. It will be a place where the gospel of Jesus Christ is taught and cherished. There, we will gather, and from there we will disperse back into the community, and even the uttermost parts of the world, to carry the gospel we love to both family and stranger.
So what is the most valuable asset we have? The gospel, of course. The gospel is the reason we bought the place. The gospel is the reason for which this church exists. And secondly, our greatest resource is our friendship with each other and our shared dreams for this world. It is our unity of purpose to rescue as many as we can from the lies of the devil, to hold back those who are venturing down the paths of unrighteousness, snatching them away from the fire they are headed for. Let’s build this property, not because we are building a building, but because we are building a kingdom as God is building His church. This church. We can touch the world. We can make a difference. And by the grace of God, we will.
Bro. Brad

A past not easily dismissed

A few months ago I attended a bridal tea at my old church. After chatting with the bride-to-be, hugging her mom, catching up with a friend’s daughter who lives out of town, and perusing all the gorgeous gifts, I took my plate of goodies and my cup of punch and joined a table of ladies, friends of mine from way back when.

My heart was full as I glanced around the table at these women, women who had loved my kids, rocked my babies, and cooked me supper, women who had prayed for me and with me, women I loved and admired, women who remained when we left the church, women who were no doubt grieved and disappointed by the church split, as were we all.

Yet there I was. At the table. Laughing, chatting, catching up. It was friendly. It was easy. It was good.

I loved those women, those friends of mine. I love them still. We share a history together. We served and sought the Lord together. For years. A past like that is not easily dismissed.

I am so glad it isn’t.

I miss them. I saw again that our decision that July carries consequences, some obvious, some not quite so.

Don’t misunderstand. I love my church so much that sometimes, in the weird way my mind works, I am afraid. The privilege the Lord has granted me, us, to be a part of this work is so great that the weight of it nearly crushes me. To say I am humbled is too trite. To say that it’s a blessing is too empty. I am grateful.

I had lunch this week with one of my friends who remained at my old church. We have lunch twice a year, she and I. I know this for sure because we continue our years-long tradition to meet for lunch on the dates a local church hosts their annual soup lunch in January and their annual salad lunch in August. We did so before; we do so still. We always say we’re going to get together more often, and we always mean it.

Our lunch was good, our conversation easy. Another friend joins us every August and the three of us chatted and caught up and reported all the latest. It was fun. My friend even referenced something that happened “that December after y’all left in July.” It was a statement of fact, not blame or or spite or any other emotion that could accompany a situation like ours, and I was glad that this is what it is: We left. She stayed. She did what she must, following the Lord’s will. We did as well. We are each thankful for how the Lord led us. We’re friends. God has been faithful to us both, to us all. What grace.

I love my friend and I miss her. I am glad for our past that is part and parcel to our present. I am glad for our friendship that continues, and for bridal teas and for our lunches together.

Oh, but God is good, His lovingkindness endures forever.