"I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, because of your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now."
A few years ago, Dan and I made, what we both agree was, one of the most difficult decisions of our married life...the decision to leave our local church.
When we decided to leave, we decided to do so quickly, quietly, and graciously, so as not to cause any undue pain to our dear ones. But in choosing to go about it this way, we never really had the chance to say proper thank you's or goodbyes...and it's about time we did. We hold that church body in such high regard. We love the pastors and the congregation very much, and we are oh-so-thankful for the time God gave us there.
So thank you, dear brothers and sisters at Lakeview Church, for partnering in the gospel with us from the first day until now.
For years (sixteen to be exact), you prayed for a dear woman to have a second child. And when she became pregnant at forty years old, you rejoiced with her. You threw her (another) baby shower, and made a cute little patchwork quilt to welcome her bundle of joy. You witnessed her and her husband dedicate their baby boy to the Lord on a cold December morning. You prayed that he would grow to know Christ as his savior and committed yourselves to helping his parents raise him in the ways of the Lord.
You changed his diapers, told him bible stories, and most importantly, showed him Christ. You taught him, encouraged him, trained him, loved him.
Then along came a girl from the church down the road. You welcomed her (and her family) with open arms. You fostered in her a love for God's word. You challenged her thinking, mentored her, and oh yes, you loved her too.
The boy asked the girl to marry him, the girl said yes, and you helped them prepare for marriage. You showered them, counseled them, discipled them...and even opened your basements and pole barns to them! You are some of the most generous people they've ever known.
After they were married, they were hit with some tough trials. Trials that you wouldn't wish upon any newlyweds. And you bore with them. You prayed with them, cried with them, loved them through the storm. It wasn't easy, but you were faithful.
And when they felt God calling them away from you, to someplace new...you didn't disown them. You loved them, blessed them, told them they were missed. And they loved you for it.
And when the boy's father passed away unexpectedly the week before his first son was to be born, you treated him like your own. Grieving with him, consoling him, and again, loving him with the love of Christ. Your love and care touched him (and his family) more than you'll ever know.
And when the boy and his wife stood in front of their new church body and dedicated their son to the Lord, they knew that it wasn't just one church body that would pray for his salvation, but two. Their little boy had an extended church family that would pray for him to know Christ just as they had prayed for his daddy almost thirty years ago. They loved him too.
Lakeview Church, you are dear to us and we thank God in every remembrance of you. Thank you for your prayers. Thank you for your partnership. Thank you for your love.
The fact is, there is no proper goodbye because you will always be family.