Parting Words

Posted: February 23, 2008 in Home Life, Theology

First, a word of thanks: Our friends here at the Cannon church have given us a deeply gracious welcome, with graded drives, painted walls, new carpet in one room, spackled holes, unloaded trucks, assembled beds…not to mention all the food. You know, some people are deeply cynical about Jesus’ Church, but I want to go on public record as saying that there’s nowhere else that I’ve experienced as much love, forgiveness, and genuinely grounded community as in God’s Church.

The fellow who came to check out our sputtering water heater said that this sort of helping each other out was rare around these parts. Hopefully, Cannon Church is and will be known as a place where kindness is extended and saints shine like stars in the midst of a perverse generation. As anyone who has ever gone spelunking knows, all it takes is a little light to lighten the darkest place.

Now, to what’s been on my mind this week of leaving my home of 8 years…the beautiful Kentucky bluegrass and my own beloved Jessamine county…


Parting words tend to be ones that matter. People said things to me when we left Kentucky that they don’t normally say. I feel a lot like Jesus’ mother Mary, treasuring these things and pondering them in my heart. Here’s a couple treasures from some neighbors back on Greenwood Street…

Bud said, “It’s like I’m saying goodbye to my own kids.” They offered the boys one last Popsicle and gave us hugs and benedictions. That’s really all you can do. I didn’t let on, but as soon as they went back inside and I was walking toward my moving truck, I cried just a bit.

Robin, whose husband died of pancreatic cancer a few years ago, gave me a solemn charge with tears in her eyes. I asked how many years they were married and the answer came back: 47. But this was what she told me. “Talk with your wife, Tim. Tell here what you feel. There are so many things that I want to say, but now he’s gone and I never told him. Give your love to each other.” She’s still in love with him, and she lives alone and last Friday she told me after 47 years of marriage that I’m supposed to share my love with my wife.

I’ve been thinking about something Stevie Ray Vaughan said during an extended encore at the 1986 Montreux Jazz festival. “All we have, ever, is the need to give each other our love.” This is surprisingly close to the apostle Paul in the 13th chapter of Romans: “Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another (v8a).” I’m also reminded that on the night our Lord gave himself up for us, he said, “A new command I give you: Love each other.”

When people are leaving or dying, the primacy of love becomes obvious and palpable.  What it is about diverging paths that makes this shine so much clearer?

My friend Erma used to sing this song, and now I’ve been singing it…tearful, reflective, hopeful.

So I roll up my tent
And pack away my bed
For the glory of the Lord
Is moving on ahead

By faith…

  1. Carolyn Miller says:

    so well said ….said both your Mom and Dad

  2. Thanks for the update and letting us hear more about your good-byes in Kentucky and the community you’ve moved into. Looking forward to seeing you at the end of March…

    Love you,


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