Three weeks ago Good Shepherd threw a party celebrating these last ten years of our ministry here in Binghamton. We had advanced warning of about 3 days which allowed us, or rather me, to fret with anxiety and consider being sick on that day. In the intervening time I dreamt twice that everybody stood up, one by one, to tell us, in detail, what a disappointment we've been and how sorry they are that we've been here this long.
But of course, it wasn't like that at all. In fact, the people of this church went quite the other way to embarrass us with praise. I was veritably and completely overwhelmed by the lovely and encouraging things said that day. You would think we are giants of faith, continually hard working, abounding in righteousness and perseverance from all that was said instead of people who regularly struggle to believe, who frequently let things fall through the cracks, who sin all the time. I praise God so much that he has worked so much, and used us even a little, to bring so many to himself and deepen and strengthen so so many in this church.
One thing, because were I to name them all this post would be as long as the whole blog up to this point, stands out as a particular grace. The MC of the day, one of the first people to welcome us when we arrived (and, may I just say, an extremely gracious person to me who was 36 weeks pregnant at the time and feeling like it was possible I would never give birth) read a beautiful letter in which she thanked us for bringing the gospel in such a way that it transformed Good Shepherd from a social club or gathering into a body of believing Christians motivated to go out into the world. That our mission to Good Shepherd would have so succeeded that the people here see what God has done and are grateful for his work was encouraging beyond what I can say. That God should so transform and form a people for himself to take a true and sacrificial stand for the truth of the Gospel and then push out into the community and the world is so strengthening to me personally.
Because many many days, when Matt is struggling to study while children whirl and shout and want to tell him about pokemon and Little House on the Prairie, when we pray and pray for people whose lives are coming apart, when I paint tiny little sheep only to have a helpful child color all over them with marker, many many days we are discouraged. Many many days we wonder if God is really doing anything at all or if we are striving in vain.
So thank you for telling us what God has done. Thank you for the amazing amazing gift and the beautiful heart for my garden. Thank you for all the balloons and the cake. Thank you for loving on our kids and being patient with them. Thank you for forgiving us when we've been wrong, for being patient when we've been slow. Thank you for taking care of us all these years--bailing out lakes of water from the basement, providing us with a gorgeous house and a vast safe and beautiful yard, bringing us meals and boxes and boxes of fancy sugar cereal, for all the cookies and chocolate milk during the early service, for moving us on the coldest day of the coldest January, for spurring us on to work for you and serve you and love you.