God has been so good to me. Tonight was our last night together as the Deans’ Staff. We laughed and we cried and we cared and we prayed. Kent Dresdow flew down from the Bay Area to join us for the evening after moving up there a week ago – he got in around 5:00pm and we dropped him off at the airport again at 9:00pm. Jordan Bakker is moving to Simi Valley this weekend. Ryan Boys is driving 20+ hours to Dallas, Texas, leaving tomorrow at 8:45am. “This is the beginning of the rest of my life,” he said in the car on the way back to campus. Vanessa Llanos doesn’t know where God will take her yet. But he will use her soft heart and wise words and sober-mindedness for His Name, somewhere, somehow. Sam Neylan is headed into the real estate business, where she will thrive because of her ambition and her drive and her commitment to excellency in the cause of Christ. Caleb Hagen is becoming a children’s pastor at Copper Hill church. These are my friends. God has been so good to me.
It hurts. There is an abiding sense of loneliness in my soul that is cured and filled mainly with the lingering thought of Heaven. Thoughts of future earthly joys somehow do not bring the comfort that they often promise, especially in times such as these. But faith and hope do. And the pain that I feel so deeply with my friends’ departure is yet another representation of how good God has been to give us to each other as brothers and sisters and friends and partners in ministry for the indescribable time that we had. If it didn’t hurt for them to leave, then we would be rightfully indicted for a lack of intimacy and care for one another. The pain proves the partnership, just as tears prove friendship.
And now, to press on. The Good Shepherd remains with me, as He remains with them. There is work to be done in this world and on this campus and in the church and in the slums and in the ghettos and among the tribes and in the country and in the city and among the Muslims and with the orphans and to the persecuted church and in closed countries, until the glory of God in Jesus Christ covers the earth as the waters cover the sea. We will meet again, my friends, in life or in death. And oh, what a meeting it will be! Until then, pour yourselves out, spend and be spent, and end not as a pile of dust but a pile of ashes. Go, love, die, and live. I’ll see you on the other side.