I was in labor with my firstborn when I took my first ministry position.
The chair of the Staff Parish Relations Committee called my cellphone (back then, something slightly smaller than a carry-on suitcase). I was lying in a hospital bed in Watagua County. Hoping that our two-week past due baby would be induced to “exit the building.”
I was both elated and shocked. I figured my chances at the position were nil because the other lead candidate had family members who chaired the Administrative Board and whose legacy at that church was widely known.
But the committee took a chance on me.
It began a season of ministry that ultimately gave birth to the path which led to where I am today.
I loved that church. There was a phenomenal senior pastor whose preaching was second to none. The church grew (more than doubled) and our six years of ministry together were some of the richest years you could imagine.
But, senior pastors move. During that transition, I’d also completed my educational requirements to be commissioned as a Deacon in the UMC, working my way to ordination. So when the new senior pastor arrived and after a year it was obvious that his philosophy of ministry and mine were vastly different, I knew that it was time to go.
A chance introduction with the senior pastor at Williamson’s Chapel (WCUMC) at a mandatory training opened the door for conversation around an associate’s position in Mooresville. After a few weeks and interviews, the decision was made that I’d become the new associate pastor for WCUMC.
While this was exciting, it also meant I had to say goodbye.
Goodbye to folks who had become our family.
I’d given birth to both children while on staff there.
For nine years I’d served as their choir director, then for seven as their children/youth director, then senior adults became my responsibility as well, and ultimately became their associate.
I loved those people and that church.
But I NEEDED to move.
The thoughts of telling folks goodbye were excruciating.
I was supposed to preach the Sunday that would be my final Sunday.
I still don’t know “how” you do that . . . . how you give a compelling message when your heart hurts. I know pastors do it all the time, but luckily thus far I have not had to.
Because it snowed.
The senior pastor was going to be out of town that Sunday, so it was my “call” as to whether or not we should have worship.
I’m pretty sure it was not “bad” enough to cancel church, but I needed an out.
I just couldn’t say goodbye.
So many times in life we are torn between where God is leading us and what we need to leave behind.
We lose sight that God provides in the now and the future and get stuck in a place we were only meant to be passing through.
Jesus said, “Remember Lot’s wife.”
Only three short words . . . but three words that remind us that she got stuck. Calcified. Turned into a “pillar of salt.”
She could not experience the joy of the future because of her inability to move away from the past.
Too often our attachment to the past outweighs our commitment to the future.
Jesus was trying to tell the folks how to obtain a richness of life.
“Whoever loses their life for my sake will find it.”
Jesus’ “sake” would be Love.
If I’d never left North Morganton, I’d never be here. And wow – what an amazing ride this is (and has been!) If something were to happen and my life not have the longevity I hope for, I would know that I have truly lived. You are a huge part of that!
Wanna know something even crazier? Some of my amazing connections in Morganton moved to Denver, NC early this year. Now they are Westies. Isn’t it a small world?
Are we willing to let go and feel the pain of separation so that God can lead us into states of wholeness and peace?
Have the courage to “say goodbye” to things that hold you.
Grace and Peace,
|Hebrews 6: When God gave Abraham his promise, he swore by himself since he couldn’t swear by anyone greater. 14 He said, I will certainly bless you and multiply your descendants.[a] 15 So Abraham obtained the promise by showing patience. 16 People pledge by something greater than themselves. A solemn pledge guarantees what they say and shuts down any argument. 17 When God wanted to further demonstrate to the heirs of the promise that his purpose doesn’t change, he guaranteed it with a solemn pledge. 18 So these are two things that don’t change, because it’s impossible for God to lie. He did this so that we, who have taken refuge in him, can be encouraged to grasp the hope that is lying in front of us. 19 This hope, which is a safe and secure anchor for our whole being, enters the sanctuary behind the curtain. 20 That’s where Jesus went in advance and entered for us, since he became a high priest according to the order of Melchizedek.