Give me my scallop-shell of quiet,
My staff of faith to walk upon,
My script of joy, immortal diet,
y bottle of salvation.
My gown of glory, hopes true gauge,
And thus I'll take my pilgrimage.

~Sir Walter Raleigh

A hiker, walking for pleasure, likes to choose between several alluring trails.
The pilgrim desires only the road that leads home.

~Frank W. Boreham

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Perfect Endings, New Beginnings

Forty years ago, while a contented wife and mother living the farm life, the Provider came home and announced he was leaving teaching. That was one day. The next on his returning home he announced he had been offered a youth pastor position in a city to the North.

This became a dramatic turning point in what became my pilgrimage. By nature, I am a nester. Roots are put down deeply and quickly. I love the land. All that is wrapped up in the country life is my ideal. At this time in our lives we were happily Mennonite, my parents lived on the other side of our barn, my sister down the road. The children's school was the best of all possible situations. All this to be traded for an uncertain life and ministry with rich city teenager? We went (in my heart- as a Mennonite missionary to the Baptists:) . Long story short: my heel marks can still be seen the distance up Oregon's old Highway 99.

Oh yes. It should also be mentioned that the private life is another aspect of my ideal. The public arena is for the brave, the outgoing sanguine sort of folk, not for those who hear the whispered appeal of the cloister life.

And so it came to pass that life as we knew it was turned on its head. Fortunately, a fixed pattern of devotional life had been established in my early mothering years. This became the most important ballast in my ever-rocking boat through all future storms and seas.

As we went to this new ministry, a passage of scripture was claimed never imagining that my Lord would use that selection, time and again through the years to humble, strip, and shape me bringing me to the place that with David and through tears I could to say "Surely I have calmed and quieted my soul like a weaned child with his mother...." I did not yet understand John Donne's prayer to "batter my heart three-personed God." But the learning began.

Now, at the other end of those 40 years, and 8 ministries later, we come to the end of that road. This ending coming about as abruptly as the first. At months' end comes the final leaving a beloved Body of believers by resignation.

We leave this present place after 10 years. This is the longest ever spent in one location in 55 years of marriage. It has been a good and peaceful ministry and blessed in so many ways.

So there is the perfect ending. Now a new beginning.

This new trail will be oh so different, difficult as well, I have no doubt. The Man, the centerpiece of my life and life experiences has terminal cancer. We have agreed that there will be no extreme measures sought. It seems inconsistent to pour caustic chemicals into an already compromised body, and that body, incidentally being the temple of Almighty God's indwelling Spirit. Then too, what does that say to the watching world - a reluctance to see our Savior face to face?

Perhaps these are simplistic thoughts. But we also have before us the perfect example of how the righteous are to face death through the valiant example set by our precious son-in-law three years ago.

Now we shall see what we are truly made is definitely 'show time'. All that we have taught, all that we think we have learned, all we have said we know is now laid bare and on the line. We truly set off into the Unknown. But we are not alone. Our children and grands journey with us as well as friend gathered through the years. Yet that's not all.

We do have our nails pounded in a Sure Place - the certainty of a Sovereign God, the experiential knowledge of His Faithfulness, the promise of His Presence. We have trusted Him in the past, we can trust Him with our future - He already being There.

Ebenezer...Emmanuel...we are Mercy covered and Grace sustained by His following Love.

Yet I will rejoice in the Lord,

I will exult in the victorious God of my salvation.

The Lord is my strength and my personal bravery,

He makes my feet like hinds feel

and will make me to walk

[not stand still in terror but to walk]

and make progress upon my high places,

of trouble, suffering or responsibility.

So sang the prophet Habakkuk, and the Septuagint adds "that I may conquer by His song."

And so onward, upward, rejoicing, singing, clinging!


  1. Oh, thank you for sharing your thoughts and feelings - about your past (maybe a bit like mine in terms of upping sticks and learning from God through hard times) and about your present and your future. I'd like to humbly offer my prayers to join with those of your family and friends.

  2. My "footprints' do wish they were closer to your doorstep, that I might come in and sit at your hearth; to hear your heart's voices and be physically closer as I offer my prayers.

  3. You and Daddy have influenced so many lives these years in ministry. I know they have not all been wonderful years, but blessed nonetheless, by our faithful God.

  4. New beginnings indeed. Tears welled up in reading this, but so grateful to know the Almighty is near.

  5. ...."to love and honor", your marriage is a true example that has led the way for us as well. Hugs to you both.