There was one big suitcase, as I remember.

I muscled it on the ferry and headed for the mainland.  The weight was more than it should have been, almost as though there was a stowaway midst the clothing.

Really, it was the finality of this trip and the months preceding it.  I was tired of running from God and had surrendered my educational and career plans to a call to the “ministry”, of all things.  My superficial, social high school experience had disappeared like a mirage upon graduation.  So had my family, as dysfunctional as it was . . . poof . . . gone.  My parents had finally given up and to be truthful, I was thankful.  I sat there stiffly, melancholic memories monopolizing my mind.  I was Hymie, the “Get Smart” robot . . . someone had opened a hatch in my metal back, grabbed a handful of wires, pulled them out and closed it.  The emotional circuitry was scrambled.

There were tears.  Symbolically, it was an end to one season of my life and the beginning of something new.  The only comfort that I had was the belief that I was obeying God, who was still a new friend.  I never loved Him then as I love Him now.  I couldn’t have.

As I close a 34-year chapter on pastoral ministry, there is still a degree of sadness and grief.  So many things that I wanted to see happen . . .  In my own strength, I cannot build God’s church.  He is the Architect, the Builder . . . the only one who can make it grow.  I am a stone . . . “you also, like living stones, are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ.”  That’s what Peter, the Rock said.

Today, I am not numb or emotionally scrambled as I was in the fall of 1973.  Sad . . . yes . . . but more than comforted.  I am excited because I am following a friend that I have known now for 39 years, an old friend.  He has been a constant through those years, never failing, and we are headed into a new future, one that continues to serve His greater plan.