(For those who do not attend Gray Road Baptist Church but follow this blog, my family and I were blessed to receive a card shower from our congregation yesterday...November 22, 2009. This letter is a response to those gifts.)
Dear Gray Road Baptist Church,
Yesterday, I held a microphone at our Praise Offering banquet and thanked you for the card shower which was presented to me and my family. Now, after sitting on the couch in my living room and reading dozens and dozens of cards, I have to stop and say thank you again. Primarily, I am thankful to God for allowing me the privilege of serving you. In addition, I am thankful for each of you...for your gifts, for the promised prayers, for the family support, for the offers to babysit, and for so much more. Susan and I are truly overwhelmed by the expressions of love we have received from all of you.
As we begin this week of Thanksgiving, I echo Paul's words to the Philippians, "I thank my God in all my remembrance of you" (Phil. 1:3). I know it was a long journey for you, as a church, to get to the place of calling a pastor. It was also a long journey for our family, as well, as we waited for God to open the right door of ministry. We could not feel more humbled by God's placement of our family in this congregation.
Yesterday was the 46th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis, and I'd like to give you a quote from his book called The Four Loves:
"To love at all is to be vulnerable. Love anything and your heart will be wrung and possibly broken. If you want to make sure of keeping it intact you must give it to no one, not even an animal. Wrap it carefully round with hobbies and little luxuries; avoid all entanglements. Lock it up safe in the casket or coffin of your selfishness. But in that casket, safe, dark, motionless, airless, it will change. It will not be broken; it will become unbreakable, impenetrable, irredeemable. To love is to be vulnerable."
This is true of personal relationships, and it is true of pastor-church relationships. It can be a timid thing to "give your heart" to a new pastor and his family, especially if things have been strained or difficult in the past. However, I feel that you have done just that...and in amazing ways (both seen and unseen). I think this is why I feel so overwhelmed at all the encouraging words we have received from you...especially since there are still names I don't quite recognize!
Going forward, my prayer for this church is that of Paul in the same paragraph in Philippians: "And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God."
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving...we'll see you Sunday! (And yes, the blog entries will be back to normal next week.)