Have you ever had a surge of emotions so profound, your immediate reaction was to break down and cry? You can’t really describe it to someone at the time. They want to know if you’re sad, or lonely, or whatever. And you shake your head no, but the words aren’t there yet. You haven’t had the time to process it enough to give the huge feelings the luxury of words.
That was me, recently.
We had just finished our church business meeting on a Sunday evening, a meeting to elect our new senior pastor, one who would step into the role my husband had held for the past sixteen years. It was a joyous occasion. He and his family had been with us serving as youth pastors the entire time. My husband had helped mentor him, and it was our hope that he and his family would step in and take our place leading this amazing group of people in a small town in the heart of Central Florida.
It was the culmination of a plan we had been talking about, praying about, thinking about for over a year. Our assignment here was finished, and we knew it was time to pass the torch and run in a new direction.
Our friend had shared his heart and vision beautifully. Our people were in full unity. He had gone into the back room with his wife and five kids to wait while the ballots were cast. We all checked yes on the small slips of paper, and within minutes the news came that indeed, he had been unanimously elected as our church’s new senior pastor.
Someone opened the door to the back room and they poured out, all grins and smiles, as they were proclaimed the new senior pastor and family for our church. Everyone stood, applauded, and cheered.
And then I broke. Deep, unattractive sobs. And It looked bad. It looked like I wasn’t part of the cheering section. It looked like I was not rejoicing with them.
But there was something that no one had caught. Not even me until that moment. Because our family had poured out of that same door almost exactly sixteen years before. We had walked into the same sanctuary and stood on the same platform as they announced us the new pastors. But our kids weren’t all smiles and grins then. They were shell-shocked. My oldest daughter was standing and crying, obviously not tears of joy. Our kids could not see ahead to the amazing years that were before them in this wonderful place. All they knew is what they would lose. Their friends, their beautiful new home, their cousins, aunts, uncles, grandparents living nearby. Everything they were leaving was in clear view. All they would gain was still hidden.
And I think that’s where I am right now. Standing on an unfamiliar platform. People are cheering for us, excited for our new venture. And all I can see are the friends and the family and the home we are saying good-bye to. Yet the One who has brilliantly led us here is still the One who will lead us on the next leg of our journey.
Why wouldn’t He?
Looking back, the road has not been smooth and straight. There have been so many twists and turns, hardships, and hurts. But there have been many, many hilltops as well. These friends and loved ones had travelled the road with us, the same road that brought us to where we are today. But the road parts now, and we will travel in one direction, and they another.
The One who will travel with us the next leg of our journey gave me a little sign that night as we were gathered together praying for this precious new pastor family. I had just turned on my phone, and sure enough, on cue, in the middle of the prayer it went off. I grabbed it to quickly turn off the sound, and looked down.
It was my daughter calling. The one who lived in the same town we were moving to in a few days. It was a little sign, just for me. He was still with us. Still traveling on the new road we were beginning. A road that looks really foggy and dim now. A road that promises new joys, triumphs, ups, downs, twists and turns.
I would like to think of Him as the Great Chauffeur. And it’s going to be a glorious ride, because of the One who is behind the wheel.