Over the last few months I’ve been privileged to make the acquaintance of Dan Hampton, the Administrative Bishop of the Church of God in West Virginia. He is a highly respected veteran Administrative Bishop and to me, a very rookie Administrative Bishop, his friendship and mentorship have been invaluable.
A few days ago he shared with me the story of his first appointment as an AB and the emotional toll that came with it. He shared how he left a thriving and growing church full of friends and members that he held dear.
And then he made a statement that captured the event succinctly and perfectly (for him and me both). He said, “It was not the going that was hard, it was the leaving.”
For Sonja and me, that is the story of our lives.
We have been going all our lives, and what an exciting and fulfilling adventure it has been and still is…but oh the pain of leaving.
I’ll never forget the pain of our last leaving.
When I called my parents and told them I had been appointed the Administrative Bishop of the North Central Region for the Church of God and would be moving to Bismarck, ND my dear mother burst into sobbing. She was happy for me and proud of me, but to her it felt like she was losing her son. She said it felt like when my sister died. Oh the pain of leaving…,
A few years earlier when Sonja and I left our home and family and the precious people of the great Fort Mill Church of God to join the State Team in South Carolina, the church had a special service to honor our ministry there. It was so thoughtful of them and very meaningful, but oh the pain—it was like attending my own funeral.
Yes, the going is the exciting part, it’s the leaving that is so hard.
That is always the price for following Christ.
I’m afraid there are countless numbers of people whose lives have stalled because they were not willing to pay the price of leaving.
It may be the cost of leaving the comforts, perks, and privileges of the familiar.
It may be the cost of leaving family and friends.
It may be the cost of leaving a safe and comfortable salary and position.
It can be many things, but the question is, “What is for you?”
Are you one of those people who will do anything for Jesus as long as it doesn’t involve leaving an address, a state, or a country?
Is the edge of your comfort zone the border for following Christ?
My wife is one of my heroes. Bless her heart (a little southern lingo for you), she grew up in a little South Carolina community called Six Mile and lived there the first eighteen years of her life. Then she married a preacher…me…and I’ve moved her all over the country…literally.
Some of the darkest days of my life, over the years, have been hearing Sonja weeping and pouring out her heart to God as she dealt with the pain of leaving yet again. But she did it; we did it, and oh the journey, and what an adventure!
In looking back over our lives together, who would have imagined those 40+ years ago when we loaded up everything we owned in our little 1972 Ford Pinto and started our journey in ministry together as Youth Pastors at the Florence Palmetto Street COG that we’d one day be living and serving in the incredibly beautiful North Central Region and living in Bismarck, ND.
There’s been a lot of painful leavings along the way…but oh the joy of the journey we’ve had following God’s call on our lives. And here’s the even better news…we feel like we’re just getting started!
- The ONE THING for today: The pain of regret is always worse than the pain of leaving.
Matthew 10:38 (NKJV)
And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me.