The Lord said to Abram, “Leave your land, your family and your father’s household for the land that I will show you.” ~ Genesis 12:1
The summer before I began first grade, my family moved from Fort Worth to Hurst. For a six-year old, Hurst seemed like a long way away. At the time KXAS Channel 5 was running commercials called “Inside Area 5” in which they featured people from around the DFW Metroplex. My six-year old brain had reasoned that since I hadn’t been in one of their commercials, our home in south Fort Worth must have been outside of “Area 5”, and my hope – my one consolation in leaving my neighborhood – was that our new home in Hurst might be “inside Area 5” so that I could, at last, be on TV.
Well, my television debut never materialized, but I do have vivid memories of driving up to our home on West Creek Drive for the first time. As my parents were unloading stuff that had been packed in our station wagon, our neighbors came over to introduce themselves. I remember my mother asking, “Where is the Methodist Church?” One of the neighbors pointed to the south. “See, the top of that building,” she asked, “there is it.” Through the top of the trees, I could see the peak of an A-frame building, which at the time was FUMC Hurst’s Sanctuary but is now known as Anderson Center.
That following weekend, we attended worship and Sunday school for the first time, and my mother, sister and I had found our new church home. And when my family moved to Bedford a year later, FUMC Hurst continued to be our church home. I still have the Bible that the congregation presented me when I was in third grade. I was an acolyte. I was confirmed in this church. I was involved in the youth group. I remember coming home from college on weekends and walking through dust (or mud) and construction debris in heals while the new Sanctuary was being constructed. I remember the Sunday morning when Philip Rhodes stood in front of the congregation and declared, “I will never wear a robe.”
I could recount thousands of stories and memories that I have about FUMC Hurst, and that is one of the things that families do: they tell stories about their collective history. This helps the family to remember who they are and how they have come to be in this point in history. But there is something else that families do: they provide a nurturing environment for each family member to grow and discover his or her role and unique contribution to the family.
And it is for this reason that I am thankful to be a member of the FUMC Hurst family. It has been with and among you that I was encouraged to spread my wings. It was through your voices I heard God say, “You should go to seminary,” and “You should become a minister.” It was you who cheered me on with your prayers and words of encouragement as I returned to school and began the journey towards ordination. As I set out on this journey, I knew that, at some point, God would lead me away from home.
Even though the land to which I am going is still unknown to me, I do know that the time to leave is drawing near. One of my favorite songs contains the lyric, “You don’t want to go. You don’t want to stay.” This is exactly how I feel about leaving my FUMC Hurst family. All at once I am both eager and excited to discover what God has in store for me in this unknown land, and unable to imagine packing, let alone setting foot outside the door on a journey away from this place. In the midst of the swirling chaos of these emotions I find comfort and peace in the fact that, like Abram and Sarai, God is going with me and will show me the way.