Leaving Home (not knowing where we are going)

I will be finishing up the work that God gave me to do at Lockwood Community Church over the next few months. It has be a long, fruitful, and (for the most part) happy time. My wife and I have loved being here. Our three sons grew up at Lockwood and all three remain committed followers of Christ. We have made many friends here, friends who are dear to us, friends who have made us better people, friends we will cherish for the rest of our lives, in this age and in the age to come.

When I first told our elders that Karen and I would be finishing up here, one of them (a dear friend) told me that he thought COVID and the stress of the last couple of years was influencing our decision. I could see why he felt that way. COVID was a nightmare: making almost daily decisions, which we knew that half the congregation would support and the other half would oppose. We lost some people during COVID – people who were (and are) dear to us.

But COVID and stress had nothing to do with this decision. In fact, the post-COVID years (if there is such a thing) have been a time of contentment and joy. We were not wanting to leave Lockwood. We are happy here and, in fact, to stay would be easier.

But I believe that God has told me to finish up the work that he has given me to do here. This belief came directly out of my daily times of Bible reading and prayer. One day, over a year ago now, I was praying when two words flashed into my mind. That is a poor way of describing it. The two words were simply there, as if they had just been spoken from somewhere out of the blue. The two words were lake turnover.

It is hard to describe how odd this was. I was not thinking of lakes at all. I suppose I had come across the term at some point in my life, but I could not remember doing so, and I had never given the concept any thought. I stopped my prayers momentarily and wrote the words down so that I could google them later.

In my online search, I discovered that lakes in colder climates “turn over” – that is, as the air temps drop the surface water cools. As it cools, it become denser, heavier, and sinks, displacing the water beneath it. Eventually, the water on top sinks to the bottom and the water on the bottom rises to the surface.

When this happens, the oxygen trapped at the bottom is released and refreshes the lake. At the same time, though, other gasses (like methane) are also released, which are capable of causing a foul odor.

When I read this, I was immediately certain that our church was going through “lake turnover.” Many of her foundational members were leaving influential positions because of age, or because they were moving, or because of death. Others were gradually taking their place. This, I realized, was healthy for the church even though, in the short term, it might raise a stink.

I also realized with a feeling of certainty that Karen and I would be part of the lake turnover.

She and I talked, prayed, and prayed together about this. Some months later, during a time of prayer – how often my thoughts, my actions, my life have been changed by prayer – I read these words: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” The words jumped off the page at me. I reread them in Greek. I felt certain that the message for Archippus was now being spoken to me by the Spirit.

That certainty has solidified as the months have gone by. So, after decades of fruitful ministry, we are finishing up the work God has given us to do. We are being obedient. Yet, it is sad, a little scary – what does God have for us next? – and a even exhilarating. Perhaps Abraham felt this way when he obeyed and went out, not knowing where he was going.

We, of course, are not Abraham.  Would you remember us to God today? Would you pray that God will help the church we love discern their next leader? And would you ask him to grace Karen and me to trust him completely as we go through this transition and into our next sphere of service?

Thanks for joining with us in this adventure!


About salooper57

Husband, father, pastor, follower. I am a disciple of Jesus, learning how to do life from him. I read, write, walk, play a little guitar, enjoy my family.
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2 Responses to Leaving Home (not knowing where we are going)

  1. Larry Bishop says:

    Thank you, my brother, for being such an inspiration!
    I hope that you will continue in these posts.
    God will bless you and your family..


  2. salooper57 says:

    Thank you, Larry. I will continue that Gannett column and the blog, with God’s help.


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