I was a Girl Scout back then, and my troop was at summer camp. At the end of every day, as the sun slipped behind massive mountains to the west, our camp director arranged us in a circle. Then, as the American flag was lowered, we sang farewell to another beautiful day:
Day is done . . . gone the sun,
From the lake, from the hills, from the sky;
All is well, safely rest, God is nigh.
“Taps,” as the song is often called, is the first farewell song I ever learned. So, when I hear it played at a military funeral — or sung at a scout gathering — the tears start to fall. Indeed, it’s tough as nails to say goodbye.
Yet that is what I’m doing here today. I’m saying goodbye, and in five decades of professional writing, it’s one of the hardest departures I’ve ever made.
First, I’m not a person who leaves — not casually. I’m still married to the same crazy, goofy guy after forty-six years when, at more than a few times, I might’ve said goodbye. I still live in the same house, on the same block, where I’ve lived for thirty years, next to the same wonderful neighbors I’ve had — most of them from the beginning.
I still live in the same metro area and state where I grew up, still co-own (with my same wonderful sister) our late parents’ same home, still know lots of the same amazing people, still have lots of the same friends, some known and loved since kindergarten.
Dan and I did leave our longtime church three years ago, but you can guess what happened. We went back. Our return, as we see it, was one of the best reversals we ever made.
Does that mean I fear a new thing? Not always. Still, I know this: I don’t pick up and leave easily. Life has to take an odd turn.
That turn came my way in recent months. After a short three years at (in)courage, where I’ve met all of you with your lovely and kind friendships, I hit a wall. Why? Not enough hours in the day.
One reason is that I don’t say no easily. So, my workload kept piling higher and deeper. Many of you may know that feeling.
With ongoing deadlines, I wrestled to keep up. I started my days earlier, ended my nights later, burned the candle at both ends while trying to look and act as if I wasn’t overloaded.
Just this morning, an editor at another ministry thanked me for my latest articles, three of them due to her last night, adding: “I don’t know how you do it all!”
My husband said those exact same words a few minutes later when he noticed an online ministry’s morning devotional was penned, yep, by me. “Great article, sugar pie. But I don’t know how you do it all.”
In fact, I don’t do it all. Sure, I try. With Christ, I’m grateful to make a humble contribution to His kingdom. But this pace takes its toll and something had to go.
But my (in)courage position? Oh, I tried hard to stay. This is a beautiful and encouraging ministry. I’ve been honored to be a part of it. I’ve written on hard things sometimes, and you didn’t ask me to leave. To be honest, I’ve loved seeing my photo included with the (in)courage team. There I was, lined up with some of the best, most courageous writers of faith in the world.
However, if I left, would I even be remembered? Would the community see me as an ungrateful interloper who bailed, not bothering to stay around for the long haul?
But I had to stop worrying about those things. The right question I needed to ask was, do I trust God? Do I believe I can leave and commit to doing fewer but still good things in Him, knowing He’s already in my tomorrows?
In answering those questions, I made the decision I knew I had to make. So, I ask for your kind farewell as I offer my goodbye today. Moving aside makes room for new voices. Doing so also points us, graciously, to Paul who closed his final biblical letter with this simple but lovely farewell:
The Lord be with your spirit. Grace be with you all.
2 Timothy 4:22 (NIV)
Moses, taking his leave, urged this:
Be strong and courageous . . . for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Deuteronomy 31:6 (NIV)
It’s Moses, in fact, who wrote the final words that I will share here as a regular (in)courage contributor. Given to Moses by our Heavenly Father, the words were meant to be shared with Aaron and his sons. Now, in farewell, I also share these words, in love, to each of you:
The Lord bless you
and keep you;
the Lord make his face shine on you
and be gracious to you;
the Lord turn his face toward you
and give you peace.
Numbers 6:24-26 (NIV)
That may sound like a farewell, but as I wave so long, please accept it not as a closed door or a final goodbye but as a warm amen.
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