I write you all looking down at the clouds from 30,000 feet and 500 miles an hour. Mountains of clouds hide the ground below. Dark blue above scares me with how little separates us from outer space. The girls chatter in the row ahead, and Ashley periodically reminds me how much I owe her for taking this leg with the littles.
Thoughts from 30,000 feet.
Over the past months, some of you studied heaven with me and also meditated on mortality. A few surprise deaths in the community have pressed death to my mind. The successive crashes of two Boeing jets forced us to change our flights and reminded me again that planes do crash. So right now, I understand my future lacks a guarantee.
I don’t write this to send anyone on a spiral of worry. I fully expect to return to Terre home next week. California won’t tempt me to stay (I make no promises about Texas next time I visit. 🙂 ). And besides, if all of us truly believe God’s Word, we should accept the fragility of life. I want to jot out here what I would say if I didn’t return.
What would I want you to know in one letter that I wish I could say over a lifetime of serving you in person?
First, Jesus Christ, our Saviour stands as indeed the most magnificent gift humanity could ever receive. History and fact defend His life, death, and resurrection. Sin in our hearts shows us our desperate need for His work. If you remember one thing about Jesus, remember this: Jesus, saw a messed up world and he loved it so much he chose to suffer and die for it. Our sin never surprises, overwhelms, or exhausts our Savior. He loves us. He loves you!
Second, God, our father loves you! He looks down, willing to love, help, and give wisdom to you. And one day He will judge all the sin of this world. Even the folks who get away with murder. God knows your heart, fear not, and live well!
Third, God put his Spirit in each of you. The moment you trusted Jesus to save you, God sent his Spirit to lead, comfort, convict, and guide you. Trust and listen to the Spirit. Invest in reading your Bible and praying. God leads you through His Word and the whispers of His Spirit.
Fourth, I love our little community at 65 Home Ave! I love how you love like one big family! I love how you show up when others are sick. I love how you have cared for us through our health drama! I love you guys so much! Keeping showing love as you do so well! Never stop!
Fifth, Ashley and I consider ourselves surprisingly blessed by you! More health difficulties than I ever imagined have failed to overwhelm us because of you. Through two children’s births and significant changes throughout the church, many of you are still here. If today were my last day as a Pastor, I would smile and consider myself a lucky man. Thank you! If you love every pastor as you have cared for us, you will never lack for a minister.
Sixth, The real strength of Terre Haute lies in its families. Our community has problems with poverty, drugs, and pain. But our families are stronger than all these. I love watching you guys support and care for each other through thick and thin. Keep investing, and keep loving each other. Families change the world!
Seventh, Looking ahead, I think God has great things in store for Cornerstone! Keep exploring creative ways to do outreach and keep discontinuing what doesn’t work. Lean into your strengths like music and be willing to say “no” to as much as it takes to find what works. It’s ok to be small. Our community may never top 100 again and still create disciples of Christ. God wants a healthy church; not just a growing church.
I think the jet’s settling down on the path to Phoenix now. Hopefully a short hop from there to start our stay in California. I plan to preach my heart out on March 31, back home, and to stand behind my handmade pulpit. But today, please take this encouragement to heart. Take action today by the man or woman God wants you to be. You and I don’t know what the next hour or day holds.