Well, we are about 80% packed for our upcoming move and one day until we drive off. The decor has disappeared and the boxes have multiplied.
Many of you know that I've been eager to leave this town and head to our next assignment for many, many months. Long before God ever revealed the who, what, where and when of it. Ready to shake the dust off our feet and hopefully put some distance between us and the trauma represented in this town.
But here's the problem with making a clean getaway....these people and a few more not pictured. Dave, Paula, Lynne, Ed, Eddie, Sue, Joyce, Judi, Marcia, Bruce, Penny, Krista, Dave, Debbie, Mike, I'm looking at you.
Each one makes it sad and harder to leave than we want it to be.
It's been said that it is better to give than receive. I believe that's true for a number of reasons. Not the least of which is that four letter word control. When we are the givers, we are in control. If we take a few minutes to consider it, these are the times when we are most comfortable. I mean we shine, don't we? We receive so much joy when we can minister to, meet a need, and take care of someone else.
But the flip side is not so much fun. When we have little to give and find ourselves positioned to receive, we squirm. We are humbled and touched, of course, but it truly is a love/hate relationship. We absolutely love being shown love and sensing we matter to someone, anyone, but we equally hate being the needy ones. Feeling like our need and burden is tiresome to everyone around us.
This is exactly how you could characterize our last three years. But these people. They didn't let us go. They could have. They should have. But they didn't. Some of them even paid a price for sticking with us.
They kept us in their tight circle. They believed the best about us. They invited us to family gatherings, birthday parties, took us out to eat, checked on us and prayed for us. They pursued us and didn't let us retreat into an isolated loneliness. They came to our kids' sporting events, concerts and musicals and supported their mission trips. They met many needs both physically and emotionally. They gave us community when we no longer had a place to fit in.
They loved us and extended friendship to us the way the Bible teaches.
A friend loves at all times....Prov. 17:17
Do not forsake your friend...Prov. 27:10
I haven't even mentioned the laughter. They made us laugh when it seemed like nothing was very funny. Thank you a million times over for the laughter.
They taught us about generosity in a way that will forever change how we care for others and give.
I have shared these next verses in thank you notes to many of these friends:
Remember this: Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously. Each man should give what he has decided in his heart to give, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver. And God is able to make all grace abound to you so that in all things at all times, having all that you need, you will abound in every good work.
As it is written: "He has scattered abroad His gifts to the poor; His righteousness endures forever." Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of your righteousness.You will be made rich in every way so that you can be generous on every occasion, and through us your generosity will result in thanksgiving to God.
This service that you perform is not only supplying the needs of God's people but is also overflowing in many expressions of thanks to God. Because of the service by which you have proved yourselves, men will praise God for the obedience that accompanies your confession of the gospel of Christ and for your generosity in sharing with them and with everyone else. And in their prayers for you their hearts will go out to you, because of the surpassing grace God has given you. Thanks be to God for His indescribable gift.
2 Cor. 9:6-15
2 Cor. 9:6-15
Amen and amen. There are few things I enjoy and benefit from more than watching Christ followers live the Bible. These friends are living and breathing examples of all the above and it's been our pleasure (albeit reluctantly at times) to be the recipient of their obedience and generosity. We thank God for each one of them. We praise God for each offering on our behalf. We know that every one flows out of close relationships with God and sensitivity to the leading of the Holy Spirit. Glorious!
We will love you forever and never, ever forget your countless gifts to our family.
If I haven't expressed it enough, know that God has used and continues to use you to breathe life into weary souls and bring joy to the brokenhearted. Don't ever stop. You've taught us how to do it and we promise to carry on that legacy.
So even though my house may be emptying, this heart is full.
PS. It would be incomplete to not mention the many other friends and family who have prayed us through these last few years as well, you too are so very appreciated. You know who you are. This post is a shout out to those living in this town, right here in the day to day.