I have known this blog post was coming for some time now, but I did not know when I would be at liberty to actually write it. This is the time.
Life chapters are always being written, even when we are not aware of it. You’re either starting one, in the middle of one, or ending one. The middle parts don’t get near as much attention as the beginnings and the endings. Those are the bookends that delineate particular eras in your life. Whenever there is an ending bookend, you can be assured that there is a beginning bookend very close by.
So it is for my own family right now.
For the past 7 years, we have been a part of an extraordinary church family where my husband has served on the staff. And we will always look back on this chapter of our lives with great fondness…the place God brought us when we needed Him to come through for us, the place where He stretched us and grew us, the place where both our children were raised from infancy, the place where we learned what ministry is.
But now, a new door has opened, and very soon we will be moving to a new town, where we will plant our lives and my husband will pastor a church for the first time. By this time next month, I will probably be writing from a new location…an undisclosed location in every sense of the term…because the house where we will be living has not been disclosed to us yet. I know and trust that it will be, in God’s time. We are filled with questions, with anticipation, and with hope. A new season is about to begin, in more ways than one.
But now I know why the word bittersweet gets tossed around frequently during moments like these. The goodbye (the ending bookend) is bitter. Not bitter in a grudging sense, but bitter in the sad sense that (let’s face it) nobody likes to tell a friend goodbye. To the friends we have made here who are reading this now…we treasure you, and we always will. Last September I wrote a post called called The Expanding Universe, in which I remembered the salt-of-the-earth people whose lives have intersected with ours over the course of our married life. As time passes and life chapters stack up, our universes automatically expand, rather than diminish. I see it happening now. Our universe is immeasurably richer for having known you all, and nothing can change that. It may sound trite to say that, “Friends are friends forever if the Lord’s the Lord of them,” but I can think of no better, and no truer, sentiment to offer right now. (And by the way, we have eternity together, but let’s not forget that we also have e-mail and cell phones in the here-and-now, okay?)
The hello (the beginning bookend) is sweet. We have been overwhelmed with the kind welcome that has already been extended to us…so many open faces, so much genuineness. We have great hopes for what God will do in our midst of this congregation, in the days and years to come.
King Solomon penned these beautiful and fitting words a few thousand years ago in Ecclesiastes 3. They need no elaboration and no further commentary because they already cover every possible milestone in the human condition. They still speak today. And they speak to me now more than they ever have before. This is the time to tear down. This is the time to build up.
1 For everything there is a season,
a time for every activity under heaven.
2 A time to be born and a time to die.
A time to plant and a time to harvest.
3 A time to kill and a time to heal.
A time to tear down and a time to build up.
4 A time to cry and a time to laugh.
A time to grieve and a time to dance.
5 A time to scatter stones and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a time to turn away.
6 A time to search and a time to quit searching.
A time to keep and a time to throw away.
7 A time to tear and a time to mend.
A time to be quiet and a time to speak.
8 A time to love and a time to hate.
A time for war and a time for peace.