Several years ago a pastor was serving a small rural mid-western church. One Sunday he was led to preach on a topic which he drew from one of the titles of the VBS programs available that year. The sermon theme was cutely phrased, “With God, the future looks so bright – you’ll have to wear sunglasses.” Well, the church decided to pull a “fast one” on him. The very next Sunday, after he had gone up front and turned around to face the congregation to share the message, over half of them were wearing sunglasses! It sure was cause for joy in their midst, but more importantly, that day the pastor sensed that he was looking at a congregation that was readying itself for God to move mightily among them.
A pretty creative word picture, isn’t it – needing to wear sunglasses for the kind of future God has? Yet, the idea of God providing us with a sure hope, with His promise for a bright, a very bright, future – has been a central theme of His for us from eternity. He knows we are frail, He knows we err, He knows we misunderstand, so He knows that we need to be anchored in Him, the One who knows what is best ahead for us in Christ. It is always for our well-being when we embrace this promise of His and let it be foundational for life ahead as we align ourselves to His will.
It’s coming time for Mary Beth and I to go up north to enter into the next chapter of what God has in store for us. Sure, it’s Packer territory instead of Bears – why wouldn’t anyone not want to go north? Sorry, Bears fans…. All kidding aside, this new uncharted territory is about us looking to live in obedience to God’s will and His desires for our lives. (We want to be able to wear sunglasses because of Him.)
At the same time, it means change and a new chapter for this beloved church of God’s that we have served. Change isn’t always welcome, and it’s never easy when change is significant, like a pastoral one. But I do hope that you will join with us as we leave, being in like spirit and in expectant anticipation for what God has in store next (Jeremiah 29.11-13).
We are very grateful to have joined with you in the time we’ve had – from the first contact I had with you through Dean on a phone call – to our last worship service coming on May 17. Ironic and wonderful at the same time, technology helped bring us together and will also help us close this chapter through our online service. Of course, technology can only help us as a tool; it can never replace what the Lord gives His people and what we are to be about.
By His design, we have been about people and relationships – sharing life person to person. About loving for and praying with one another. About learning in concert with the Holy Spirit and with one another so much more of God’s Word. About welcoming new friends and saying, good-bye, to others. Above all we’ve been about coming to faith in Christ as well as growing to be more faithful disciples and witnesses of Jesus. For all of this, Mary Beth and I are very thankful to God and to this church for the many blessings we have experienced, and by God’s grace too, those blessings you also have experienced in our time here.
Our love for this church will continue. Our praying too. The next time we see you, we pray you’ll be wearing sunglasses because of God working out His plans for His people, you His church here in Peru.
With you in Christ,