Today I crossed the finish line of a very long race and am about to start another.
I completed my final list of “to dos” this afternoon, the last of which was packing my office belongings into my car. At 3:45 I walked down to Linda’s office, turned in my church keys, and instantly went from being Pastor Mark back to just Mark.
I’ve been in full-time ministry for 32 years straight — and now, in an instant, I find myself unemployed and not really sure what this new normal will be like for me. In two weeks I’ll be starting my next race — that of a full time grad student.
What a change. At this very moment I’m blogging these reflections instead of running youth group. So weird.
Looking over my shoulder at the race I’ve just finished I am profoundly grateful and humbled that God would let me run it.
At my “graduation”/farewell party this past Sunday Cindy and I set out all of the youth group pictures and memorabilia that we had preserved from each of the past 25 years. Perusing through them brought back many long-forgotten memories of ways that God blessed us with each other and with Himself.
I marveled at the number of youth group alums who came back to wish us farewell, coming from as far north as Duluth and as far south as Arkansas. It was such a delight to reconnect with our old kids (some now in their 40s), watch them relive old memories, and reflect on how good God was to us during those years. It struck me that with every single year, trip, and retreat God seemed to have sovereignly brought together those students and sponsors who needed each other at that precise moment in time. We truly had something special.
On a personal note, Cindy and I were so profoundly touched by all those who were able to come and wish us well. Thank you for expressing your kind words to us verbally and through the many, many cards. Our view is that each of you has impacted us every bit as much as you say we have impacted you. God gets the glory for it all.
It was indeed a good run!
Whenever I finish a race I find myself equally exhilarated, exhausted, and satisfied all at once — and looking for the massage tent!
So it is now. And then on to the next race!