It would take me all day to say how much Bethel has meant, not just to my family, but to me personally. Seriously, leaving Bethel is one of the hardest things I think I've ever done. For those who don't know, James and I start a new chapter in ministry this Sunday. We are very excited about this opportunity and are blessed to have been given the chance to serve again.
Don't get me wrong, I don't want anyone to think that we aren't excited about our new ministry. I have to be honest, though. Walking away from a church family that you love isn't the easiest thing. When I say we love Bethel, I mean we are all about some Bethel Baptist Church. It was so hard to actually tell our church family that we're leaving. I'm a grown adult and probably shouldn't be so emotional about it, but it's so hard to actually get the words out of my mouth that we won't really be there anymore. I struggled Sunday; I'm sure anyone who came within a 10 foot radius of me knew that. Anyway, if I could have made a coherent sentence without crying Sunday, this is what I would have said to my Bethel family:
From the moment we walked in the door three years ago, I knew there was something different about Bethel. There was something about it that felt like home from the very beginning. From the encouragement you showed us when Matthew's whirlwind birth happened to your overwhelming support of Coming of Age and all of the moments in between and afterwards, you've been more amazing than we even knew possible. You are the real deal.
On another note, as my Wednesday night crew well knows, our previous ministry left us brokenhearted. As they have heard me mention way too often, it was the closest thing to a wilderness experience I had ever experienced. (It's pretty bad when David's most dramatic psalms and break up songs seem to best capture your current emotions, LOL!) When we got to Bethel, though, we truly began an amazing healing process. God used Bethel to remind us of why the church exists.
Thank you for being there for us even when you didn't know how much we needed you. Thank you for being a church where we could truly plug in and serve God. Thank you for being a church family that welcomed us with open arms (even after James stepped down). Thank you for the amazing influence you've been to our son (he really does love his "Bethel Church"). Thank you for just being you.
It's kind of funny how God works in our lives. We thought we came to Bethel because you were looking for a youth pastor. It turns out that we needed you more than you ever needed us. In closing, I have to go back to my favorite Relient K song that seems to sum it all up: "In Like A Lion" (Just a portion of it). I know that there's a lot more to the song than this, but I like how I can relate it to the changing of the seasons in our lives (also to my Wednesday night crew, I had to mentions seasons one last time).
It'd be so nice to look out the window
And see the leaves on the trees begin to show
The birds would congregate and sing
A song of birth, a song of newer things
The wind would calm and the sun would shine
I'd go outside and I'd squint my eyes
But for now I will simply just withdraw,
Sit here and wish for this world to thaw
And everything, it changed overnight
This dying world you brought it back to life
And deep inside I felt things shifting
Everything was melting away
And you gave us the most beautiful of days...