Wednesday, February 14, 2018

sad expectant waiting

As I pack up boxes and the shelves become empty, I am faced with unsettled feelings. In part, it’s the disruption of our order, of the rhythm here we have come to know and to love. But worse than packing is the way my calendar empties. Pee Wee basketball: Delete. Car show and sock hop: Delete. Talent show, baseball, adult volleyball: delete, delete, delete.
Delete, and wait on God to fill with who-knows-what. Will I have a niche there? What will it look like? (Peace, daughter. Wait.)

What people don’t understand, I imagine, is that the very things that make it hard to leave St. Peter’s- those are the things that also comfort me and give me the strength to move forward trusting God’s provision.

When we came here, it was also quick and jolting to all of us, and yet, we knew it was the right thing to do. Many people didn’t understand, and the goodbyes were wrenching. We left behind so many things that we loved: the house, the location, the people!  And I had a niche there, too- with my mom friends, serving coffee amidst the chaos of my home, with groups of women who knew how to pray with each other and discuss the most important things together every single week.
It was a season of grief, but also of joyful surprise, as I watched God rearrange and provide in our lives over and again when we came here.  He gave us a new home to love, new friends, new adventures. He showed us that there are a million different ways to live the Christian life well here in the city, and we got to see new sides of His work in the many vocations around us.
Eventually, He even gave me a niche here: a totally different one than before, but one I have poured myself into with the strength God provides.  And I have been blessed in this pouring out: blessed to have so many dear ones (children and adults) who make saying goodbye so very hard.

I quote my husband’s words here:
“As a called servant of a congregation we are never sure what God's plans are for us. The temptation, after serving in the ministry for over ten years, is to insulate oneself and your family so that when ... God moves you elsewhere it won't hurt you or the family as bad as if you let people into your hearts and lives. With God's help, I have always tried to love and be loved by God's people freely and honestly, without putting up walls. You all have seeped into the very fabric of my being in the way that only family can.”
Yes, these dear people have seeped in, and that’s why leaving hurts so bad. But I don’t regret it. I am glad they are in my hearts, even though it means suffering now. I may have been tempted to shield myself better if I had known… and so, I am glad I didn’t know.  Because friends in Christ ARE friends for eternity, and though it pains us to part, we know we will be God’s timing.
As I worried to a friend about how people would take the news last week, she said, “Won’t anyone understand?”  I doubted, and said, “I am not sure they can understand. I think, the best I can hope for, is that some will still love us- even not understanding.” Oh, that is a lot to ask- more than I have to give in similar situations.  And yet God is working this grace in many people we love around here, and for that, we are so grateful.
The Sunday before we told everyone, Josh was sick in bed with kidney stones. I snuck over to church at 8am for communion.

Pastor Garber was preaching about sickness and God’s relief of it; I prayed for Josh, and for this man preaching who has become a dear brother to us.  My heart hurts; I try not to make eye contact with anyone. But pastor, he knows, and I know he is grieved.  He is broken; but I go up to communion, and there, he gives me Jesus. And I am broken, taking Jesus. Jesus broken for me.  And I think how this is church; broken people sharing Jesus even in their brokenness- this is what church does. It is good, Lord, to be here.

On my calendar, and here at St. Peter’s, there are empty spots: Delete, delete, delete. My chair where I used to greet people at the ECC in the morning: delete. The office where Pastor Cook always had an ear to lend: delete. The backyard at the parsonage next door with constant junk from a mess of kids: delete.
We are leaving holes as we leave, and we have no choice but to trust God to fill them.
The same God who is rearranging our lives is rearranging things at St. Peters. Dear brothers and sisters, join us in sad but expectant waiting!
Peace, children. Wait. Our God knows how to care for you.
Wait and see- He will take care of you!

"I believe that I shall look upon the goodness of the Lord
   in the land of the living!
Wait for the Lord;
   be strong, and let your heart take courage;
   wait for the Lord!" (Psalm 27)
Father may all your children keep on sharing the love you give, even with hearts broke open wide... Jesus, comfort your people, feed and uphold your church, and provide for all your children both near and far, until that day when you call us all home to be together with you in eternity.

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