The End, The Beginning

I wrote this more than a year ago.  But now is a new beginning for many, and I thought it would be a good reminder about ending one chapter and beginning a new one.  And I am glad to report that the new team is doing so well, and the rest of us are well into God's new chapters for us.Finishing a good book is bittersweet for me.  I love being in the story, knowing the people, being a part of the action.  But when I turn the last page, I feel sad.  It’s over.  My life will go on, but those brief relationships will end.Yesterday was such a bittersweet day.It was the last day of a leadership team I have been a part of for almost nine years.  A smaller, different group, including a number of the previous members, will go forward as a new team.But this day was the last page for the old team.  We spent it reminiscing and reflecting:Times of fellowship and fun:  segway races, croquet, sailing, airboat rides, some great meals, visiting in homes.Feasting around the Word of God:  learning from each other, applying Scripture to our work and our lives.On our knees:  for personal needs—health, births, weddings, deaths, decisions-- and ministry needs—wisdom, finances, resources, ideas.Lots of hard work:  defining our mission, vision, values and priorities, working through differences, believing the best when we haven’t agreed, pushing through to reach our goals.Celebrating milestones:  passage of change initiatives, a major student conference,  breakthrough strategies, the right new person.Honoring each member of the team:  words of affirmation and appreciation, gifts to remind us of what God accomplished through us, humble, inadequate, unworthy servants that we are.The turning of that page brings loss.  For all of us, but more strongly felt for some.Today those of the new team are busy forming, defining, anticipating, exploring:  How do we move forward into the future God is leading us to?But for those transitioning to other opportunities, probably the sense of emptiness is stronger:  “I’m not with them anymore.  This group I have been connected to for many years is no longer mine.  Still friends.  Still working toward the same vision.  But not together."Grieving is appropriate.Then God reminds us that, though “weeping may last for the night, joy comes in the morning” (Psalm 30:5).For God’s good plans are for a lifetime.  Closing a chapter doesn’t mean the end, but rather a new chapter begins.  Finishing one task prepares us for the next one.  God made us who we are, for good works He wants us to do.  And at every season of our lives He has a plan for our part in building His Kingdom.So I turn the page.c 2011 Judy Douglass