People have asked us many times, "Aren't you excited?!" The honest answer is "yes, very much so" and "no, not really at all."
Yes--we are excited to pursue what we prayerfully believe is God's will for our lives at this time...yes we are excited to soon be living in St. Louis, a diverse and culture-rich big city that has a lot of free or inexpensive fun and interesting things to do for a family (did you know that Forest Park, which is immediately "next door" to the seminary, is larger than New York's Central Park??)...yes, we are excited to see exactly how God will use this experience called seminary as part of His master plan for us and the world. Yes, we are excited to see people's prayerful and financial support come forth, as added encouragement that we are on the right track for the Lord.
And, no...leaving you--our family and friends--is incredibly difficult. Family in Christ and family by blood: brothers, sisters, parents, grandparents, great-grandparents. Tears, hugs, thank you notes of love, phone calls, prayers, more hugs, goodbyes, "see you laters"...that is very difficult for both giver and receiver.
But we take real comfort in what Jesus says, in the midst of our sadness, "And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life" (Matthew 19:29). Wow!!!
And we know there is a real cost to following Christ--to following God's will for our lives...Luke 9:57-62 says, "'As they were walking along the road, a man said to him, 'I will follow you wherever you go.' Jesus replied, 'Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has no place to lay his head.' He said to another man, 'Follow me.' But the man replied, 'Lord, first let me go and bury my father.' Jesus said to him, 'Let the dead bury their own dead, but you go and proclaim the kingdom of God.' Still another said, 'I will follow you, Lord; but first let me go back and say good-by to my family.' Jesus replied, 'No one who puts his hand to the plow and looks back is fit for service in the kingdom of God.'"
As we prayed last year about whether or not to sell our house (which we subsequently did) and whether or not to actually do this "seminary thing," the Lord put several Scriptures in front of us, "...any of you who does not give up everything he has cannot be my disciple" (Luke 14:33) and Luke 14:25-27, "Many people followed Jesus. Then He turned around and said to them, 'If any man comes to Me and does not have much more love for Me than for his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, and even his own life, he cannot be My follower. If he does not carry his cross and follow Me, he cannot be My follower.'"
God made it clear to us through His Word that, if we wanted to follow His will for our lives at this time, that it was necessary for us to sell our house and leave behind family and friends. Not easy then. Not easy now. Not easy--ever.
But we know that God is with us. As Hannah told us tonight as we said goodbyes to family and friends, "But Jesus is with us...He lives in our heart. And if mommy or daddy is ever sad, I will give them a hug..." (That one made dad cry!) Yes, she is right, He never leaves us. And so He goes with you as well. God is right there with you--just as He promises, just as He says He will forever be--even when it might feel like He's far away.
We pray that He gives you and us peace during this time of transition and change. And we look forward to what His future plan holds in store for all of us and for His Kingdom.
May God bless you richly...and give you the peace that only He can give. We love you so very much.
Don, Stacye, Hannah, & Lizzy-boo