I heard the news today that you have an inoperable brain tumor. At first I felt shock - almost clinical about the news. Then all morning waves of grief washed over me as I thought about the terrible reality you and your family are staring down.
But this is not about me and my feelings. It's about you. I started reflecting at lunchtime and through the afternoon about some of the ways you have influenced me since we first met in 2001, two days after the 9/11 attack.
Where do I start. I think of the transition I went through in 2007 from a burned out, depressed young pastor to the new director of Central Services. You walked with me through that. You probably wished I wouldn't step down, but you listened to my heart and you worked out a solution that was a win for me, and I hope for the Kingdom of God as well.
When, after a couple of years, it was time for another transition as I stepped back into pastoring with caution, part time, while still serving at Network Resources, you encouraged me. You told me you always hoped I'd be a pastor again. As part time pastoring transitioned again into full-time, and then back to part time as finances waned, you were always there to listen to my wonderings, my doubts, my frustrations. And when, two years ago we spoke about the difficulties I was having internally, wrestling with my own changing ideas about the scripture and certain interpretations of it, you helped us work toward a grace-filled transition away from being a pastor (again). What a crazy series of events. But through it all the word "grace-filled" was the theme.
Along the way you inspired me and wrote so many things on my heart. Interestingly I heard many of them spoken at Steve Mason's memorial a couple weeks ago.
- There's always a place for you.
- Forgiveness for the past, hope for the future.
- Keep the main thing the main thing.
- Keep the Arrows Out!