Sunday, December 27, 2015

There is a Time

"For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven:
a time to be born, and a time to die;
a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted;
a time to kill, and a time to heal;
a time to break down, and a time to build up;
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance;
a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together;
a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing;
a time to seek, and a time to lose;
a time to keep, and a time to cast away;
a time to tear, and a time to sew;
a time to keep silence, and a time to speak;
a time to love, and a time to hate;
a time for war, and a time for peace. ~Ecclesiastes 3:1-8

Life is full of changes. We go about our lives, and in the midst there come changes that we notice right away, and other changes that happen so gradually, that it takes us a while to realize that they are even taking place. Some changes are for the better; some we aren't sure about. There are some people who can get excited about the thought of change; but for some of us, even a change that we look forward to can often seem terrifying. But however we react to changes, they are sure come all throughout life.

After we moved to VA, we  spent several months visiting churches. To be perfectly honest, I cried many weeks. It had taken us so many years to find the church that we were attending in SC before we moved. I sometimes wondered why we had to leave just a couple years later and start all over again, possibly taking another several years to belong anywhere. While we were searching, we heard many good sermons, and I was thankful for those, especially one about keeping our eyes on God's plans for the future instead of on what we missed from the past. With the changes that we had been going through, I needed that lesson, and I don't think I'll ever forget it, though I have a feeling that I'll have to work hard to follow through on it many more times. But no matter how much the sermon blessed me, after it was over and people I had never seen before started coming up, it was so hard for me. We were all constantly answering the same questions to dozens of people that I knew we probably wouldn't talk to more than 3 or 4 times. "Are you all siblings? How many boys versus girls? Grades? Ages? Names? Are these two twins?" I desperately missed having people around us who cared for us each as individuals, and not just as the biggest family they'd ever seen.

We eventually ended up at the church that we have been going to for about a year and a half now. And every time I think about the first Sunday we were there, I remember 2 things. 1. I was told Happy Mother's Day by a lady who thought that Abbi was my daughter, heeheehee... and 2., there were several people there that day who asked all the same questions that we are always asked when we go to a new church. But several of those people asked the questions individually. Not, "What are all the names and ages?" to a single person like it was a trivia game, but "What is your name? How old are you?", like they were really connecting with the person. `

No church is going to be perfect. A church is made up of sinful human beings, and as such, we are constantly being worked on by the Lord, and the body of believers will not be a perfect church until that day that the church is gathered at the throne of Christ. But so many of the people here at FBC welcomed us with open hearts (and open arms), and I've been so thankful for the blessings and fellowship we have been given there.

Today our church said goodbye to our Pastor, as he moves to be with family. God is calling him on, and it is going to change many things, for him and his family, of course, but also for us as a church body. We will miss them. And things will be uncertain for a while. But I am also thankful for the example they set of following the Lord into the unknown. And as Pastor Todd challenged this morning, how can we make our time count? This new "time" is ours to use for the kingdom.

Our family knows that we will not be staying in VA for the long haul. We don't know when or where we will move eventually. It will probably be sooner rather than later. And, at times, I still continue to doubt. Why were we sent here for a short time? Why learn to love something to say good bye? But then I remember, in the words of A. A. Milne's Winnie-the-Pooh (I get my words of wisdom from only the best sources ;)...), "How lucky I am to have something that makes saying goodbye so hard."

We were sent here to learn, and grow. To form relationships with the people who will forever be part of what makes me look back at our time here as a blessing, no matter where we end up. And when we move next, we will have more lessons, and grow more through God's grace. And we will have many precious people who will still be part of our lives, even if it's over long distance. And the Lord will give us opportunities that we may glorify Him in, looking forward to his glory, rather than being discontent for the past. No matter where we are. No matter what "time" we are walking through. Joy or sorrow, feasting or fasting, silence or speech, planting or harvesting.

"'I wish it need not have happened in my time,' said Frodo.
'So do I," said Gandalf, 'and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.'" ~J. R. R. Tolkien, "The Fellowship of the Ring"

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"May the Lord, the God of your fathers... bless you!" Deuteronomy 1:11