Final Thoughts as we Move.
My wife Kimberly wanted me to post this as a final farewell to Newark from her. I love reading what she writes… I am so glad I married such an amazing woman…
Final Thoughts From The Mommy
Its been a few years now (and a few kids!!) since our desktop died, thus destroying my blog, and therefore destroying any momentum I had towards recording the wealth of emotions that arise from raising one’s family in the inner city. I was OK with that, too busy with my three kids and (now) one on the way to notice….until Sunday morning. Our last Sunday here in Newark. So now it is 3:00 am and despite the fact that my fatigued pregnant body is longing for sleep, my mind is whirring with so many thoughts and emotions that elicit at least one final blog post (we’ll just sneak it into Danny’s blog).
It started like every other Sunday morning….me, dog-dead tired, trying to get the kids ready and keep clothes clean and hair pulled back AT LEAST until I got dressed and got everyone out the door. We got everyone out the door (triumph #2!) and the kids were doing their normal “run ahead of Mommy” (but always stopping at the telephone pole before we neared busy Ferry St.) and then it surged up within me “This is the last time you’ll be making this short walk around the corner for Sunday worship. This is your last Sunday.” I made a very quick decision then, before tears could flood my eyes…”Carry on!” I commanded myself, “and don’t think about it.” Well, I got to the church building and managed to busy myself for a while setting up the nursery area (teams are occupying our nursery classroom), checking on the kitchen crew, greeting people, etc. I was doing alright.
But then the worship band started. I looked around at the vast array of skin colors, sizes, ages, socio-ethnic backgrounds, all singing around the big baptismal tank which had been assembled (partially by my four year old son) smack dab in the middle of our sanctuary. All of my children had scurried onto the laps of their favorite “church buddy”. I had no kids to chase, no emergencies to tend to, no lesson to get ready for. I couldn’t busy myself any more. I had to sit and soak up the beauty of the Body of Christ sitting around me, I had to absorb the fact that this would be my last time worshipping with them in this context, I had to recall the many years of struggle and hardship, and I had to acknowledge the absolute faithfulness and goodness of my God who had carried us through, furthered His Kingdom, and built up His Body right there in the ‘hood.
The tears wouldn’t stay back, they just streamed and streamed. Tears of joy, tears of grief, tears of aching over having to say goodbye. The pain of having to leave Newark and all the people we love here, can only be likened to the pain of sending your child off (to college, or boarding school or something of that sort). You know you have spent yourself on them. You know you have failed in many ways, but you also know you gave them and entrusted to them every bit of love, teaching, and instruction you could. You send them off and pray that what was done was good enough. You pray that the seeds that were planted over and over again WOULD grow in your absence and would bear fruit without your watchful eye and tending hand. Its not so much like a death, because no one is dying, there is just that painful separation that feels like a death but you know that you are both still there….just apart.
Praise God for comic relief…for as I absorbed the pain of it all and cried and cried throughout the worship time, someone came up and told me that Joyce, an elderly woman who was always having health problems (some real and some concocted) was asking to go to the hospital. So, as I called the ambulance to get her, and went outside to wait for it, I was thankful that the Lord provided a diversion from the pit of emotion that could have sucked me under. *I call it comic relief, because when the EMT got there they were wondering if they needed the stretcher or not, but when we went inside to get Joyce she hopped right up out of her seat and b-lined it for the door, I tried to hold her hand to at least act like it was more of an emergency than I was quickly realizing it was, but it was more like SHE was dragging me out the door, than ME helping her. Mind you, I was so exhausted and thirsty, myself, (being 7 mo. pregnant in an un-airconditioned 100 degree church building) I kept wondering if it wasn’t ME that should me going to the hospital instead of her, but I had to chuckle because it wasn’t the first time that precious, eclectic Joyce had gotten me into similar situations.
I caught the last part of Danny’s last sermon at Trinity and then we baptized an infant, several teenagers, and an adult into OUR church family. Then onto round two of the tears…after our community lunch, different people had to get going and I cried with each embrace as I knew that with each person I hugged I could write a book about all the things we had been through together. Many of them, with horrible pasts and more baggage than you want to deal with, had finally come in contact with HOPE in the person of Jesus Christ, in His story of redemption, and in the friendship and love that we had poured out over the years.
As I stood in the doorway saying goodbye to a family who had lived with us for 6 months, come clean from their drug addiction, gotten a job, learned to pay rent, brought a baby into the world (their other kids are in custody of the state), baptized her that morning and are trusting the Lord to provide for their needs and carry them through, I realized I had gotten to participate in a miracle…the miracle of redemption.
Redemption is painful…it comes at a cost…first the cost of Jesus blood and life on the cross, and then the cost of my own life and selfishness, so that HIS LIFE could flow through me to minister to families such as these. Its painful but its beautiful, miraculous and worth every minute of the heartache, blood, sweat and tears.
I stand it awe and thankfulness to the Lord for allowing me to be part of such a beautiful metamorphosis of individual’s lives, of whole families, of an entire community.
And as painful as it is to have to say goodbye to our “child”, our flock, our friends, our family, I believe God has called us to leave so that this “child” can learn things that we no longer can teach it. This season here is done. The Lord has called us out, and I believe by faith that He is the great I AM for my neighborhood, and if us leaving will put His All-Sufficiency on display even more, then I will hurt, I will mourn, I will cry, I will surrender, so that
HIS GLORY MAY BE KNOWN.
“Thank you, Newark. Thank you, Jesus “
Thank you, Newark, for your smell, your trash, your inconvenient road systems, and for all the parking tickets we’ve gotten throughout the years.
Thank you, Jesus, for weaning me off the comforts of a physical place to live, so that I could be reminded that your Kingdom is so much better than smoothly paved roads, perfectly manicured lawns, and a parking spot just for me in front of my house.
Thank you, Newark, for all the people living right on top of each other, who I always see either at my doorstep, in the grocery store, or during the wee hours of the night when I’d rather not see them.
Thank you, Jesus, for PEOPLE, and for the ways that they work in our lives (even if it feels like a raw chaffing rather than a soft embrace) and help us learn to love.
Thank you, Newark, for always providing families or individuals who needed our money, our groceries, or our time a little bit more than we did.
Thank you, Jesus, for sstttrrreeetching my faith by calling us to give away so much, not have money to pay bills or buy groceries, and then after me sweating it out for a while, miraculously providing for our needs.
Thank you, Newark, for all of the horribly disfunctional families that these children and adult come from.
Thank you, Jesus, for causing Your Gospel and Your Redemption to shine so brightly, in light of the tremendous heartache and sin that this flock has had to deal with.
Thank you, Newark, for all the crazy, eclectic, people who have been forced to be my neighbors, my friends, and the people I lean on.
Thank you, Jesus, for the chance to become best friends with people I previously NEVER would have sought out a friendship in.
Thank you, Newark, for all those who are impoverished who live inside your city limits.
Thank you, Jesus, that I have witnessed a generosity among the poor toward one another, that trumps any check I could write and put in the offering plate.
Thank you, Newark, for all your faults, all the hardship you’ve forced me into, all the deaths you’ve forced me to endure.
Thank you, Jesus, for the miracle of LIFE in death, for gaining in losing, for the saving of my own soul through my failed attempt to save others.