"Now Thank We All Our God"

Lots of emotions are competing in my heart during these final days at First Baptist. Sadness, of course—but also anticipation of the new life that will be beginning for us, as well as for you. There’s nervousness about the uncertainty of the future (what new ministry will I find to fulfill my ongoing call?) –but it is balanced by a quiet trust that God has a plan that is going to amaze us when we see it. Much joy, too. It’s something of a roller coaster ride.

The one constant emotion, though, and the over-riding one, is...GRATITUDE. I am naturally thinking about it during Thanksgiving week, but it is never far from my mind these few months of our long goodbye.

And, unlike the proverbial atheist who feels grateful but has no one to thank, I know exactly where to direct all my gratitude. It is to the Father of lights, the giver of very good and perfect gift (James 1:17).

Every dream I ever had for my life has come true—and in ways far better than I ever imagined. As a teenager, thinking about a life of ministry and what it might entail, I had a vision of serving great churches in wonderful places among choice people—and, across almost 50 years, it happened! I have been privileged to have the best of the best!

Dumb luck—or His grace? I think I know which.

I am thankful for you. The great joy it has been to know and serve you. The awesome opportunities that have come my way these past 16 years because I was pastor of this church. The people I have been privileged to know and hopefully to influence.

"It is the LORD's doing, and marvelous in our eyes," says Psalm 118:23. And that just about sums it all up.

“To God be the glory!” we often sing—and mean it.

I'll gather for dinner with a couple hundred of our people tonight at church, and that will be what I'm thinking for sure. Then again, on Thursday, Audrey and I will have a big meal with the same family that has shared their table with us almost the entire time we have lived in Alexandria. If it goes the way it always has, we'll go around and each one will share one thing for which we are grateful. Our little ritual.

This time I think it's going to take a little longer to do.

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