To the saints of God in Ozark, chosen and dearly loved:
Our hearts are full today, our last Sunday with you. Before, we thought we have might have a lifetime to share our hearts with you. But now, as we prepare for one last chance to speak to you, it doesn’t seem like enough. We have so much left to tell you.
It is no secret that we think of you as our third child. We have spoken at great length about the labor it took to bring you into existence and the way you required more from us than we even knew was in our power to give. But we have also made known the rewards we found in serving you, our deep love for you, and the pride that swelled in our hearts in moments when we glimpsed just how far you had come.
How do we say goodbye to you now?
Our building on 20th Street has never been, in and of itself, our church. So even though we may shed some tears when we close the doors for the final time today, it’s not the building that we grieve. It is your precious souls, the group of us together, and knowing that we may never all be gathered together in the same way this side of heaven that makes us weep.
Come this afternoon, the Lord may begin to scatter us all in different directions, to new fellowships, new ministries, or new callings. But for now, while we remain together, may we remind you of a few things that are dear to our hearts?
Remember that true worship of God always takes our eyes off of ourselves and our own circumstances, and focuses instead on His greatness and majesty. Don’t underestimate the power of this simple act. When God came to Job in the whirlwind, He never answered Job’s questions, He just reminded Job of how big He was (Job 38-41). We would do well to remind ourselves often of those same things.
Remember that the best and truest way to discern God’s voice is to immerse yourself in His word. Any other great endeavor requires extensive dedication, training, and discipline. How much more so the immense task of following Jesus? It is not legalism to work hard at learning the stories of the Bible, their context, and even memorizing their very words. The Holy Spirit can only remind us of the things we have already learned, and we are privileged to hold the very words of God in our hands, so endeavor always to learn them as well as you can.
Remember that aside from the Holy Spirit, the best help you have in following Jesus is those who are walking with Him alongside you. Growing together will not happen on accident, and there is power in praying with and for each other.
Remember that following Jesus is not something you only do on Sunday mornings. This world is not our home, but rather we travel through it as ambassadors of Christ everywhere we go.
Remember that Jesus told us we would be hated for following Him. Persecution was a catalyst for the spread of the gospel in the book of Acts, and still spurs on true followers of Christ around the world today.
Remember that nothing is impossible with God. We don’t always understand His ways, but He is never powerless to help us.
Remember you are the shepherd of your children’s hearts. While your pastor and church should come alongside you as you commit raising your babies in the fear of the Lord, those little ones’ first and most influential spiritual leader is you.
Remember that the gospel is a message of reconciliation. This means we should seek to be reconciled to God, but also to one another. Never leave a church in anger or with unresolved conflict. “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone” (Romans 12:18).
And above all else, remember the greatest promise of the Bible is this: God with us. Nothing can separate us from His love (Romans 8:38-39). No matter where we go, His presence goes, too.
It has truly been a joy and honor to know and serve each of you.
With all our love in Christ,
Pastor Jason and Amy