And this is love: that we walk in obedience to his commands. As you have heard from the beginning, his command is that you walk in love. 2 John 1: 6 (NIV)
Tonight we helped host a reception for our church’s children’s pastor who is leaving to go to another church in a different state. The hall looked beautiful with centerpieces made of balloons and jars of gumballs. The brightly colored tablecloths and decorated cakes made for a festive affair, but it was an emotional time to say the least. Joy to see him singing with the children as they exhibited all they have learned under his leadership, and sorrow to know that he will not be there with them next Sunday. Though my boys left the children’s program long ago, both of them learned much under his tutelage. Both worked with him, our oldest as paid staff and our youngest as a volunteer. He has been a great encouragement to them holding them accountable to be men of God. He has always been uplifting to us as parents complimenting our boys on their compassion and skills with those younger than them. It felt really good to know that they had him in their lives. He and his wife placed their mark on our family that will live much longer than the time they were with us. Truth be told, I was feeling pretty cranky about their departure. Why didn’t they stick around a little while longer? I know I can’t argue with God’s will, but hey, couldn’t He leave them with us until youngest son graduates from high school? It is only a couple more years. Then, God reminded me that He is still in charge when I spied a former youth pastor in the crowd. It was good to talk to him and tell him all the wonderful things that have happened in our boys’ lives since they were under his influence. He was excited to hear that seeds planted in his work with them had sprouted so well. He confided that the hardest thing about leaving to start a new ministry is not knowing how things will turn out with the old one. I never thought about it being just as hard to say good bye when you know that you are following God’s will as it is to be the one left behind. If there is one thing I have learned in my life as a Christian, it is better to be walking in obedience even if it means a new path than it is to be walking on the old path going the wrong way. My selfish desire is to keep them with us, but I know that God has bigger plans than I can see. I can be confident that God will bring someone else into our children’s lives who will impact them in a new and different way. Despite my sadness, I know that we are not saying good bye forever. Someday, we will meet again, if not on this earth but in Heaven. When that day comes, I will just look for a children’s pastor on the front row of the choir doing hand motions to every hymn!