A few days ago, I was looking for my younger son Mike and asked Deb where he was. She said that he was in the bathroom shaving. Being the insightful man that I am, I asked her the obvious question, “Why is he doing that?” In her most patient voice, Deb responded, “I guess he needs to now”. At that moment, it hit me – I no longer have two little boys in my home. Given that both of them have been taller than me for a while now, I should have picked up on that reality some time ago, but this was definitive proof that we were moving into a new era as a family.
The truth is that for one era to begin, another has to finish. In many ways that message was the theme of my week. On Tuesday, we celebrated the end of eight years of the Scalante family living on the hill here at our mission headquarters campus in Fort Washington. On Friday, through a miracle of packing science, we fit the whole family, me and their luggage in the CLC van and I took them to the Newark airport for their trip to Miami where they will now be living. While I know this is a great move for them for both schooling and ministry reasons, it still doesn’t make it easy. Gerardo is my boss, my colleague, my friend and my mentor. I know that I will see him many times in the future, but it will not be quite the same as bumping into him in the hallway or having him and the family over for a picnic. Change rarely is easy, but often is necessary for growth and development to take place.
The night before this celebration with the Scalante’s, I attended a celebration of a very different kind. After thirty years of ministry, CLC is closing our bookstore in the Northfield, NJ area. We had gathered missionaries, employees and volunteers together to remember God’s faithfulness over three decades and the many lives that had been impacted and transformed by the dedicated team at this store. One story in particular from that night made a real impact on me.
Many years ago, a little girl named Sara would come into the store on a regular basis with her mom. They would often stay so long that they were the last customers to leave. Our store was pretty small and the two founding CLC team members, Roger Perry and Steve Steffel had built an ingenious play house for the kid’s area that doubled as a product display. On a number of occasions, Sara would fall asleep in this little house waiting for her mom to finish her browsing, discussions and shopping. Later on, as a teenager, Sara came into the store that had moved and grown and found resources that she needed for her own spiritual growth and development.
In her twenties, Sara got married, had kids and became one of the employees of the store. She now got to minister to others with the very resources that had meant so much to her growing up. The store team became a second family and prayed her through many of the challenges of early adulthood, marriage and parenting. Sara was with us on Monday night and was a shining example of God’s faithfulness to many generations. She and her husband are now part of a church plant and are praying about their next season of ministry and what He might want them to do.
This week, I could not help remembering something my Grandmother used to say, “Nothing is wasted in God’s economy”. In our lives, we all experience seasons of starting and ending. The challenge is to see and remember all that God has done in a previous season as we begin the new one. The same God that has been faithful to us in the past will continue to be faithful to us in the future.