Not so many years ago when my boys were toddlers the church I was serving as pastor was very close to our home, which happened to be the church’s parsonage. Most everyday I would go home for lunch with Amy and the boys. These were very simple years of ministry. Neither the church nor my schedule was unduly demanding and our routines as a family mirrored the same simplicity. More than once when I would push away from the table after lunch head back to the church, one or both of my sons would grab my leg and start crying asking me to not leave. They would rather have me at home all day, but I knew (or I thought) that was just unreasonable. I still remember clearly seeing them stand behind the glass door at the back porch crying and waving as I was pulling out of the driveway. “For goodness sake,” I thought, “I will be home in just a few hours.”
I thought about this image as I was leaving Young Harris College last weekend. Amy and I enjoyed a beautiful time with our oldest son for “Family Weekend.” We met his professors, saw his dorm room (no comment), and met his many friends. While I know he was glad to see us, we could tell after a day or so that we were starting to get in his way. Right after Sunday lunch we were wrapping up our weekend together and saying our goodbyes. By the time we were driving off the college campus, my oldest had already turned his back and was walking with his friends to his future.
“For everything there is a season…” (Ecclesiastes 3:1) Today as I write this article it is my youngest son’s birthday – 17 years old. He cannot be that old, I am thinking to myself, which is just another way of saying “I cannot be old enough that my youngest son is now 17.” For goodness sakes, I remember clearly when I was 17. While he still has well over a year before he too walks away from home to the future waiting for him, I am seeing, like leaves starting to change in the fall, his own turning. Long gone are the days when I had sons begging me to stay home for the afternoon. I guess now is the time we should cue the song, “Cats in the Cradle.”
“For everything there is a season…” This is life, right? Things, people, and places come and go. Blessed is the life that goes through the changing seasons with loved ones who are also on this same pilgrimage. Everything and everyone is part of this movement of change. The strength of the church is not that it is an unmovable rock, but that we are founded about God’s unchanging love in our ever-changing lives. In times of cataclysmic upheaval and in times of gentle transitions we still have the same thirst and longing to know: “The steadfast love of the LORD never ceases, his mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” (Lamentations 3:22-23)
We are always changing and even how we see and relate with God changes. We mature, gain life experiences, confront disappointments, and discard things that not longer work. While God remains constant, God is nonetheless relating in ever-changing ways; “…they are new every morning…” I find great comfort that as this globe keeps turning and the stars keep spinning and those whom I love the most grow up and grow old, there is an abiding, steadfast Love that will not let me go.
These are some of the things I think about sitting on my back porch to the world. Amen.