Sometimes the end is the end...but sometimes...the end is just the beginning.
Endings are hard, emotional things...even endings that are really beginnings.
The leaving is never easy...whether for a day or for good...and our humanness cries out wanting to change the inevitable so the tears won't escape and the depths of our hearts won't overflow for all to see.
But life resides in these tears.
And so I embrace the raw life that I can't seem to control anymore.
And my heart aches. Really. Aches.
It aches for moments I want to relive, it aches for the change I want to be, it aches for eyes I want to look into, it aches for connections to remain, it aches to be reassured this really wasn't the end of what God has done.
On this final day, the big yellow striped tent was cleared out, loads and loads hauled away. Our hands dirty with the work, our feet wet with the doing, we closed that chapter of ministry, knowing the Truth had been shared through the meeting of people's needs...a true picture of the grace hands of my Jesus.
A local diner snuggled us all in for a final lunch together as crew. Hearts were shared, generosity reached out, and the bitter-sweetness of the sharing and understanding laid us open like a book to be read...deeper connections made through the Spirit alive in us.
Our last backyard Bible Club at the Airforce Base found us tired, energy depleted from the week's labors.
But as we looked into faces that had so recently been unknown, we were burdened with the truth that we would soon say goodbye to the little ones, now familiar...and so very loved.
How do you look into their hopeful faces and say truth, that even you don't want to hear?
How do you speak to them the finality that even you don't want to face?
So we did our best to ignore that truth for the hours we sang, and laughed and shared the glorious gospel that had brought us here in the first place.
Determined to leave His mark in this place, on these people, on these little lives of Joey, Lily, Emma, Ellie, Eden, LeeAnn, Tyler, Katelyn, Kylie, Abigale, and of course Kodie, "spelled K-O-D-I-E"! :)
And we white knuckled gripped as God asked us to place them in His hands, because our reach can't extend those thousands of miles and accomplish all He has prepared...but our prayers can...and so in trust and tears, we let go.
We let go of control and grab hold of the One who knows them best and loves them most.
But our hearts crack and twinge with this obedience and this faith that we know will somehow fuel us. Somehow.
So, joy mixes in the tear drops falling on tshirts and boots.
Because above all, He is faithful.
He grace has infinite reach.
His love is relentless.
And we know that this week, in it all and through it all, it is THAT truth we have planted...and now...it is THAT truth we have to walk away believing...walk forward living.
And so this night, I find my comfy place...I escape into worship, just me and the One I love in that crowded room...we meet and I am even further undone.
I am wanting Him to pick me up and hold me and He does.
I love my Heavenly Daddy for that.
He sees my heart, He whispers peace over my aching and I am ruined by this love and grace strength that I so, so, so do not deserve.
I am freed from the wondering and the what ifs and instead become entangled in all He is.
This is what has begun in these endings.
Lives have been connected.
Resolutions have been made.
Challenges have been issued.
Truth has been shared and seen.
Hope for steadfast momentum has been locked and loaded.
And so, as we lay heads on pillows in the far north one final time, this Alaska mission comes to an end.
But in His Name, and by His Spirit, I declare and claim that it IS the BEGINNING of so much more.
"But cling to the Lord your God as you have done to this day."
Joshua 23:8 AMP
"Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us,
and establish the work of our hands upon us;
yes, establish the work of our hands!"
Psalm 90:17 ESV
"...if you pour yourself out for the hungry
and satisfy the desire of the afflicted,
then shall your light rise in the darkness
and your gloom be as the noonday.
And the Lord will guide you continually
and satisfy your desire in scorched places
and make your bones strong;
and you shall be like a watered garden,
like a spring of water,
whose waters do not fail."
Isaiah 58:10, 11 ESV