It has been about a month since I announced our pending retirement from preaching at Shelton Christian. We have a little over three months before we board a plane and head off to the next great adventure. I cannot say I am surprised, as I have watch others do similar things before me, yet I am experiencing a myriad of emotions to be sure. I feel like I’m living between two places.
As to the future, I am experiencing, as one might expect, excitement. I look forward to the challenge of teaching students in Zimbabwe. I love to teach. I believe it is one of my strongest skill sets. I know the subject, the Pastoral Epistles (1 & 2 Timothy and Titus). I know classes start February 7th and graduation is June 10th. Other emotions are in play as well: wonder, confusion, uncertainty. At this point, there are more questions than answers. How many students will I have? I don’t know. How many days a week do I teach, and which ones are they? I don’t know. How many weeks of instruction are there, given holiday periods such as Easter? Again, I …. Where will we stay? I have an idea where that might be but haven’t received confirmation. How will be get around Harare? I am planning on getting a bike, and we can walk to the grocery store. But beyond that? Good question. And getting to Chiredzi to the mission we worked with last time? Uh! That is one land, Africa. And add to that the doubts I have, wondering why I think I anything to offer Africa, but that is another journey in and of itself.
Before all that there is this land, this here, Shelton. I am having the same range of emotions here. I spend a few hours each week studying the epistles I will be teaching. Currently I am looking at background material and outlining a number of resources so I will know what I want to say and will know something about that I say. I am checking on airline tickets (not buying, just monitoring). There are church things happening, regular things, like worship, half day prayers, Kingdom Kids, Men’s Gathering, Ministerial Association meetings, you get the routine. And there are extras, like transition team meetings. As I reflect on things, we have one and things we haven’t done, I acknowledge the good I have accomplished and have regrets on my weaknesses and failings.
The result is I have questions and emotions here. What happens when June comes? I know we have no plan on selling and leaving town. But beyond that? And I suppose that is subject to change as well. How will I occupy my time? What will I do? Can I still be involved in SCC? Maybe. Hopefully. But at what level? I also have some ideas about things I might want to do. We plan to return to teach in Zimbabwe for a number of years. How many? I also know that Amor looks for people to come help finish houses that groups don’t get done. Is that something I might like to do? Possibly. IDES, a disaster aid ministry we have taken offerings for in the past, has talked about putting together an emergency response team. And maybe they have. If so, is that something I might want to do? Good question? All good questions. And only some of them.
Then there are the people, friends and church members. I feel some sorrow about leaving. I don’t know what the future holds, but change is coming. As I ride my bike I think about the many miles Mike, Cheryl, Debbie and I have covered, thousands. I think about all the people John and I have moved, and the pizza restaurant we moved one Saturday into the wee hours. I think parties, Dinners for Six, work days, and on and on. I remember working together through Refocus and TNet, answering the question, “Who is a disciples?” Shelton and more significantly Shelton Christian Church have been part of my life for thirty years. Over half my married life has been spent here. When I preach, I look out and see the people I have shared the Word with so many times. And I think about those no longer with us. Why is not that important, only that they are gone.
In that other land there are people I am anxious to see, people I dearly love and care about. I traveled many a mile and many an hour with Alone, visiting churches and sharing with church leaders the call to stewardship. I spent mornings with the staff of Hippo Valley Christian Mission doing devotions and some IT work. I fell in love with a special church, Chingami. I look forward to seeing the painted building and share with those precious people again. I look forward to seeing the Burbidges, our next-door neighbors last time. Hopefully some African animals are in our future.
And each day is a mix of emotions. Today is no exception. Nor will tomorrow. Through it all I have the firm conviction that I am doing what God has called me to do. The paths he puts before us are not always, maybe rarely, easy. Those paths are the ones we are to follow. There is a book called, “The Road Less Traveled.” I ought to read it sometime but probably won’t. I think each of us has our own road to travel, the one God places before us. We don’t travel it alone. Friends, co-workers, family all are part of the journey. And I am on that path.
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