On Saturday I got to travel to Madrid, IA to visit some really good friends. Since I arrived in Iowa nearly five years ago my friendship with them really blossomed. I met them both my freshman year in college. The both finished their schooling there at Florida College that year so I never really got the chance to become really close to them like I did with those that I went to school with for four years. Their children were about the same age as my own, he was also preaching, and they had chosen to home school their children, just like my wife and I. It was a perfect scenario for a good friendship to develop. We met up several times throughout the next five years, evening take a mini-vacation together last year. The early this year we learned that they were moving to Texas. My oldest daughter was devastated as their daughter was my daughter’s best friend. They were two peas in a pod and for the most part inseparable. So, Saturday we decided to head over and see them one last time before they moved away at the end of last month.
Knowing that they are leaving had filled me with many mixed emotions. I truly am saddened because I am losing a good friend. Nat has been so helpful to me through the years. A few years ago I was going through a particularly difficult year and Nat really provided a great deal of encouragement. While he is always a phone call or a text away, it just isn’t the same as being able to talk face to face.
But, knowing that he is leaving to help a church in need and to move closer to family I am thankful for his decision. He hasn’t chosen the easy path. It would have been easier to stay where he was. Stay were his “job security” was secure. He could have stayed where he could argue that he lives too far away to help with family problems. But that was not his choice. I for one and thankful for the example he set for me. It reminded me that there numerous churches out there that need men who are willing to move there. Yes, some of them are in Iowa, some are in more remote areas of our country like North Dakota, some are overseas in Africa, the Philippines or China, and some are in our backyards. Where ever they are we need those willing to work, to help them get out of the stagnation that has plagued the church. I pray that when it comes time to move on, I might have the courage to help those churches in need.
I am also relieved. In April of next year he is scheduled to preach at a Gospel Meeting here in Grinnell. He intends on bringing his whole family with him. This will be wonderful as we plan on making some improvements on our home so that we can host them that week. I think all the children would appreciate that. However, I am more relieved in knowing that no matter what happens in this world, so long as we both keep the faith, I will one day see them again. That is one of the great blessings of being a Christian. We can say goodbye knowing that it is not really goodbye. We will one day see each other in heaven. And while I long for the day that we see each other again in this life, it does not compare to the longing I have to be united with his family as we enter within the pearly gates.
I also feel really blessed. As a preacher I have always been the one to move. In fact, in the eight years prior to rekindling this friendship I had lived in five different states, Florida, Illinois, Missouri, Virginia and Iowa. In total I moved 8 times. Leaving is something that I have gotten rally used to. And here I am being the one left behind. Rather than being sad, I am feeling really blessed. I work with a loving church that in the last couple of months have experienced three baptisms. I work with a church that is exceptionally good at inviting people to our gospel meetings. I work with a church that has made me feel at home. In November I will have been here for five wonderful years. Twos and half years longer than any other place that I have labored. I don’t know what the Lord has in store for me, but I have no doubt that God will be good to me.