September 2nd was my last Sunday with my Church, Ravenswood Evangelical Covenant Church in Chicago. It was a holiday weekend so many people were missing. Ideally I would have had time to meet with everyone, but with my sudden departure plans this became the last chance for me to say thank you and goodbye.
This was the hardest goodbye I've had to say so far. For the past 3 years this community has been the closest thing that I have had to "home." With all the travel that I do and jumping from place to place, I always felt like I was back when I walked through those doors and was greeted with the smiles of people who love me. It was hard to look at them and realize I wouldn't see them for... I don't know how long. With tears in my eyes, I said, " Thank you for loving me. Thank you for caring for me. Thank you for investing into my life. God has used you in my life to prepare me for this project."
As is the custom at Ravenswood, the whole congregations surrounded me and laid their hands on me to pray for me as I went out. According to Wikkipedia the human hand weighs about 3/4th of a pound. So there I stood with about 30 lbs of hands laid on me, and instead of feeling pressed down with the extra weight I was lifted up. I will not easily forget that feeling, and when I am third and fatigued I will remember the strength and support I felt with their hands pressing on me.
It was there surrounded by my Christian "Family" that I understood Hebrew 12:1
" Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely and let us run with endurance the race set before us."
My paraphrase goes like this.
Because you are held in Gods grace by so many faithful believers in the church let no sin, or fear, or obstacle keep you from doing with diligence all that God has given you to do.