Farewell from the Highley's
“The Last Goodbye”
So ends this day
The road is now calling
And I must away
Over hill and under tree
Through lands where never light has shone
By silver streams that run down to the Sea
To these memories I will hold
With your blessing I will go
To turn at last to paths that lead home
And though where the road then takes me
I cannot tell
We came all this way
But now comes the day
To bid you farewell
I bid you all a very fond farewell
(from the movie, The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies)
“Road Goes Ever On”
The Road goes ever on and on,
Down from the door where it began.
Now far ahead the Road has gone,
And I must follow, if I can,
Pursuing it with eager feet,
Until it joins some larger way
Where many paths and errands meet.
And whither then? I cannot say.
(From the novel, The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien)
30 As for God, His way is perfect:
The Lord’s word is flawless;
He shields all who take refuge in Him.
31 For who is God besides the Lord?
And who is the Rock except our God?
32 It is God who arms me with strength
and keeps my way secure.
33 He makes my feet like the feet of a deer;
He causes me to stand on the heights.
34 He trains my hands for battle;
my arms can bend a bow of bronze.
35 You make Your saving help my shield,
and Your right hand sustains me;
Your help has made me great.
36 You provide a broad path for my feet,
so that my ankles do not give way.
So, it is time for goodbyes and farewells. I know for Rachell and myself, it seems like just last week we were unpacking our boxes. So much has happened during our time here. Our son, James, was born here. As much as I tried to get him back to Missouri before he came out, he is now, and always will be an Arizona-born baby. So many memories have been made here, but now is the time for farewells.
As many of you know, I am a huge Lord of the Rings fan. I was a fan before the movies, which I suppose might make me even more of a nerd. The song and poem above are from the Hobbit. The former from the movie, the latter from the book. The road does indeed go ever on, and I know not where it will take the Highley family.
July 21 will be our last day at Christ’s Greenfield. We will then hit the long road east to St. Louis for another year of seminary. It is a bittersweet parting, as Rachell, James, and I have loved our time here and loved all of the people we’ve been able to meet and share life with. Each step down the road, however, gets me closer to fulfilling the call to become an ordained pastor. Rachell actually just passed her masters exam and is ready to shed the “intern” part of her “deaconess intern” title. If you see Rachell, congratulate her on this achievement. I am very proud of her.
Right now, our road leads the Highleys to St. Louis. But the road doesn’t stop there. Where it goes after that, only the Lord knows. Maybe the paths and roads you are on will cross our own. Or maybe some of you we may never see again in this life. Such is not for us to decide, but merely to follow the road marked for us. The road of parenthood. The road of being a spouse. The road of being a child. The road of being a friend. The road of servanthood. The road of vocation. Ultimately, all these roads connect us together as one body, the body of Christ. Christ guides it all, is in all, and through all.
As the Psalmist says, “It is God who arms me with strength and keeps my way secure.” We have nothing to fear in this life. Though the roads sometimes pass through grief and sorrow, this too shall pass. Our way is secure so long as we are in Christ, who guards our hearts and minds.
God has great things in store for Christ’s Greenfield. The “Live the Journey” campaign is exciting to watch as you, as God’s people, discern where He would have you move to next with the gospel. There is much to be thankful for about the work that you are all doing in various ministries at CGLCS, but ultimately, the only reason they happen is because of the grace of our Lord, Jesus the Christ. He is the author and perfecter of our faith, and without faith, none of what we do here ultimately matters.
Because of Christ, though, your work, your efforts, your time, your talents, and your treasures are not given in vain, but rather are being used by God for His higher purposes of bringing about His kingdom. You all have been and will remain in our prayers.
Have you ever thought about what you would tell someone if you only had one last thing you could leave them with? I think about that from time to time. What would be the most important thing that you want someone to know? Whatever that thing is, share it while there is still life and breath in you. This is what I would want you all to know:
Jesus loves you. He died for you and He rose again that you may have life forever. The will of God is revealed to us in the loving arms of Jesus. This love is revealed to us in His Word and received in the sacraments. Do not neglect God’s Word. Make it your first love above all others. That is where forgiveness and life are found. Do not neglect joining together in one body to receive the blessings of God and return our thanks to Him. This is Jesus’ message to the church in Ephesus in Revelation chapter 2. Do not give up your first love!
Regardless of whatever else Christ’s Greenfield may be known for, may it first and foremost be known for its love of God’s Word. May it be known for sharing God’s Word of life with a world that is dying.
I don’t know where all your roads will lead you, but I do know that it is His Word that will sustain you on that road. All of our roads lead us back to Jesus, who Himself walked the road of suffering on our behalf. Who also walks alongside us through every step of this life. Because of His great mercy, we will see you all again, whether in this life, or the next. Thank you for your great love shown to us. The peace of the Lord be with you always.