Sunday, November 09, 2008

Saying Goodbye is Tough

Well, for the past eight or nine months, I’ve been serving on staff at Living Waters Church of God. I hired in as the Outreach Pastor, but after a couple of months I was reassigned to Youth Pastor. So, for the past six months, I’ve been serving there, and seen God move and really touch these kids. We’ve seen our share of struggles and even a bit of ugly attacks, but God has blessed us.

Then, out of the blue, something happened. I got offered a full time position in Lakeland, where I’ll serve as an associate pastor and office administrator. I start in the office tomorrow, and be there officially for Sundays on the 23rd or this month. I’m excited about what God is doing!

But that means someone inevitably will be saddened by the news. Indeed, some are. It was announced last Sunday that we are leaving the church. I was almost immediately confronted by a sad teen. My wife talked to a couple teens before service that saw the announcement in the bulletin. So it makes the whole thing kind of bittersweet.

On the one hand, I have poured myself into these kids, often not knowing if I was really making a difference. I saw signs from time to time, like kids reaching out to visiting teens, and telling them about our youth services. But, it didn’t really hit me that I was important until I saw the sadness in them. It reminds me of when Paul called for the elders of the Ephesian church for the last time. Check it out:

“And now, behold, I know that none of you among whom I have gone about proclaiming the kingdom will see my face again...And there was much weeping on the part of all; they embraced Paul and kissed him, being sorrowful most of all because of the word he had spoken, that they would not see his face again. And they accompanied him to the ship.” Acts 20:25;37-38

The Bible goes on to say that the when Paul finished his address to the elders, that they wept, mostly because they would never see his face again this side of heaven. I wonder if Paul may have felt what I am. I wonder if he really realized that he had really made a difference.

Nearly two years ago, the pastor of the church in Lakeland was pastoring in Ypsilanti, MI. He announced on a Sunday morning that he was resigning and moving to Lakeland, FL. The church was crushed. They loved this pastor. The state overseer came that night to take a vote for the new pastor, and while there, he said these words that have stayed with me. He was glad to see that the church was sad, because it meant they loved the man who was leaving. That is why I am somewhat glad that the church and the teens are sad, because it means they love me. It means I did some good while I was there. I don’t want them to dwell on me, but at least I know I been effective. It would be bad if they decided to party because they finally got rid of me!

Well, tomorrow begins a new chapter for me. Pray for me as I step out into the will of the Lord!

God bless!

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