In recent months several of my friends in local church ministry have left their positions, some voluntarily, some forced. Inevitably, these are seasons of anxiousness about the future but also about the ministry and relationships we leave behind. This has reminded me that it is often in our departure that the Spirit of God is manifested.
For example, at the end of his earthy ministry when Jesus left his disciples he said:
“It is for your own good that I am going, because unless I go, the Spirit will not come to you. However, when the Spirit of truth comes he will lead you to the complete truth” (John 16: 7;13).
It was only in Jesus’ absence that his followers discovered the full meaning of his presence through the gift of the Holy Spirit. It was only in his absence that they completely understood the truth of his words and experienced full communion with him; and it was only in his absence that they could gather in his name as the Church of Jesus Christ.
Similarly, when we serve our friends, family, and churches in the Name of Jesus, we can trust that our leaving will also bring them the Spirit of Jesus. In fact, there are some things that will be dismantled, repurposed, accomplished and even transformed in lives and ministries only when we are not present. Under the Spirit’s guidance, in our absence new leaders emerge, new decisions are made, new relationships are forged, and new directions are pursued.
Therefore, we can be assured that not only our times of presence, but also our absence becomes a gift to others. And, often the very best gift we can give to the church and to others is our absence.
“Remember me for this, Oh God, and do not blot out what I have so faithfully done for the house of My God and its services.” (Nehemiah 13:14)
Posted on February 19, 2019