Godspeed to the Robertsons

First the Facebook pictures started popping up: Steve and Melissa were handing off the reigns of Master Club. Then came the confirmation that after three decades of faithful ministry at SouthSide Baptist Tabernacle, the Robertsons were leaving. Leaving with hope in their hearts. Leaving with friendships intact. Leaving with their imprint indelibly etched on the people they loved and served for three decades. It took me a minute to take in. Maybe a day. Maybe I’m still taking it in.

gray goodbye friends board

Who is this son of Robert whose departure is so momentous? If we learned to read the heavens might we find his story nightly etched with blazing diamonds above us? Like the clan from which he descended he has served the King. Like his ancestors his territory has been enlarged. Like the stubborn folk whose genes he possesses he has clung to the cross of Christ. Like the patriarchs of his ancestral island he has raised his children to blaze like torches against the darkness of the world.

And who has been his faithful companion? Who has born his children? Who has brewed untold gallons of coffee so yet another play can be performed or another missions trip be scheduled? A true Proverbs 31 woman! The kind of woman whose shadow sends shivers through the hearts of the feeble feminists. The kind of woman who does not fear the snow (a necessity for the climate to which they are going!) or tremble to put her hand to the plow.

I was eleven years old when I met Steve and Melissa.  I could only forget them should some illness pillage the deep chambers of my mind where memories forged in the drama of youth are encased by sincere love and affection. Words cannot express their impact on my life, as well as on the life of my wife. They may be surprised that they are frequent characters in the dialogue of mind as I ask myself “How would Steve do this?” or motivate myself with “the Robertsons would stay up finishing this”.

But this is no eulogy. They are not dead nor dying. They are living for the Lord. And when we live for the Lord, He uses us in new places. We do not grieve over this because we are assured of a future where parting has lost its bitterness. We rejoice for the new saints who will share their fellowship. We rejoice that gifts and talents sharpened in one local church ministry will be wielded with greater skill and precision in a new endeavor.

Servants of the Lord are both instruments of sanctification as well as objects of sanctification. We know that their new ministry is not a perfect place filled with perfect people. We know that they will be tried in unforeseen ways and surprised at the lengths to which God will go to perfect them. So while we hope for nothing but joy, we also pray that God “ would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height;  And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God.”

“Godspeed” is a middle English blessing of prosperity. Somehow it fits the occasion. It fits the people. Godspeed, Robertson family. May your journey be and bring a blessing.

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