The year 2012, according to the Mayan calendar and a 2009 adventure/action movie, is supposed to be the end of the world – December 21, 2012 – to be precise. Thankfully, I don’t believe in all of that hocus-pocus, but I have to say that so far, 2012 has been a challenge! I think of myself as an upbeat person, so I hope this post won’t sound “whiny” . . . but this year has been tough.
We’ve been dealing with those big “life-changes” that everyone must face, so hey, I shouldn’t be surprised, right? In January, we noticed that Jennifer’s mother’s condition was deteriorating faster and faster. Lots of doctors appointments and sleepless nights for Jennifer followed, seeking answers and solutions, but it became obvious – Virginia was slipping away. In March, the decline was like a boulder rolling faster and faster down a hill, and she slipped peacefully into the arms of Jesus in the early hours of Palm Sunday morning, April 1. We both lost our dads in 1997 and 1999 – so this was not a first – but all the same, it was and has been hard. It was a great blessing for her to go on to Heaven, but she has been such a constant presence in our lives on a daily basis since her husband died in 1997 – it seems she should still be here.
Mitchell, our eldest of two sons will be leaving in less than two months for college in St. Louis. We’ve already started the “grieving process” over the idea that he won’t be with us at home. It’s important to note that we are a blessed to be a close family – we enjoy spending time together – so the idea of one of our quartet so far away is hard. I think Michael, Mitchell’s younger brother, may have the hardest time. I’m hopeful – I know there are a lot of good and exciting times ahead as we move into this phase, and I’m confident that Mitchell has some great opportunities ahead of him at Webster University’s Conservatory of Theatre. Mitchell had offers from schools MUCH closer to home, but everything seemed to point in the direction of St. Louis when a decision had to be made . We knew he was going away to school – we were just not thinking out of Texas! – so we’re being pushed out of our comfort zone, as he is, and I am proud of him for being willing to go for it. But still . . . it sure feels weird right now, and I know his departure will be another “big deal” to work through.
A few days ago, our Pastor Emeritus, Dr. Wayne Allen passed on to Glory. Dr. Allen came into the Ferguson family’s life in 1987 at a time of great spiritual upheaval as we left a church our family had been a part of founding. It was a painful time, particularly for my parents, and Dr. Allen’s godly leadership and example was a “balm in Gilead,” restoring our faith in the church and church leaders. Dr. Allen and Theresa led Jennifer and I in our pre-marital counseling and he performed our wedding. As we served here at the church part-time during the early years of our marriage, the Allens were a rich blessing in our lives and so critical in those formative, early years. So, in a personal way, it’s the end of another chapter.
There are other changes looming with very close friends that will have a big impact on us as well. I realize that this is a normal, natural progression in life – things change, people leave us, and very often, for their own good and in God’s gracious, sovereign purpose. We then, are left to deal with these changes, make adjustments and keep serving and following God on the journey. As I write this, I’m struck by the fact that I know many people – many in our church family – who have passed through much deeper waters than these, dealing with serious health problems, the pain of divorce or estrangement with children, the death of a spouse or a even a child. In comparison, my list of concerns and complaints seem small. But – it’s important to be honest about how these things impact our attitudes and our daily walk with Christ and with others.
So – with all of these changes and probably more to come in our lives that we cannot anticipate, it’s good to remember the following promises of God, a God who never changes – the ONE constant in our lives where we must find our peace and security.
Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever. Hebrews 13:8
Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness. I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentations 3:22-24
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.