40 days. Jesus fasted in the wilderness for 40 days. In the days of Noah, it rained for 40 days before the ark floated on the face of the water, and Noah waited another 40 days before he opened a window. Moses was on the mountain for 40 days. And after the crucifixion, Jesus appeared to them for 40 days.
In the Bible, when the number 40 is used, it means “a significant amount of time,” like when we were young parents traveling cross-country with our kids. As soon as we hit the highway they asked, “How much longer?!” I raised my hand so they could see it in the back seat, and with all digits extended said: “In just five more minutes…” and the kids groaned. It was always the same answer.
40 days. It should feel like a long time, like the 40 days of Lent, but right now, it feels like it will be over in a moment, and then we’ll be gone.
Like our daughter Grace being married. It was just two years ago that she brought home a Japanese boy for the Christmas holiday. Then a year later he asked for her hand (after seeking her father’s blessing). A week ago they promised their lives to each other. I do. I do. I will, and they were married.
The night before, at the rehearsal dinner, the married couples in the room gave advice to the soon to be newlyweds. It started with the usual smattering of well worn advice: don’t go to bed angry, forgive and forget, find a hobby you both enjoy, but then my sister Sheron added:
“You were friends before you became serious.” It was a statement. “And you will be friends long after you are married, but sometimes there will be the need to speak to your friend, instead of your lover. Say ‘I need to speak to my friend,’” Sheron told them. “I need to tell my friend something.” We all heard these wise words, ones not often heard. The room felt the weight of their wisdom, and was quiet, reflective on how this advice might apply to their lives. “That’s it,” she said, and the room smiled and agreed.
Suzanne and I are so happy for Grace, and the man with whom she has chosen to share her years. We see the promise they both hold in each other. After we leave for Ghana, they will be moving to Japan. Our family scatters after this last Christmas, New Years, and Wedding.
Good-bye to Southwestern
It was an anti-climatic end to my 15+ years at Southwestern University. My last class day was cancelled due to ice, I missed my last two finals due to flu. The flu also kept me from my own going away celebration and a timely move out of my office. Six days after the onset of the flu, I was in surgery, and then a whirlwind of recovery, Christmas, family arrivals, wedding, the belated packing up and moving out of my office, officially retiring from Southwestern, and driving to Florida for The Mission Society Global Gathering, from which I write this. I don’t know if it was all God’s plan, bad luck or satan, but I have come out of it all with a sense of accomplishment – that it was all really tough, over-the-top busy even for me, and yet I managed to get it all done.
In many ways I am thankful for the anti-climatic departure from Southwestern. I learned from our training last summer the value of saying “good goodbyes”. I am leaving a place I truly love: the institution, the faculty, the staff, the students, and the new President. I was not sure I could leave and say good-bye all at once.
People have told me “I couldn’t do what you are doing,” and truthfully neither could I unless I was 100% sure that this was what I was supposed to be doing. I am sure. There isn’t joy in the leaving, and there is some sorrow. For me, I think it is better to have lots of smaller goodbyes. It’s less “clean”, but also a lot less emotion-charged, and easier for me to manage.
Our ministry budget is 93% funded; only lacking $568/month in pledged support. Our deployment fund is at 100%, and our vehicle fund is at 82%, which will be enough for us to get a good vehicle for our purposes.
If you have given a special gift last year, would you consider pledging to make that same gift, or a portion of it, on an annual basis?
If you know you are going to pledge your support, (or have told us you would support us) but have been waiting for the right time, the right time is now! We need to be 100% funded before we can depart.