I don’t do goodbye.
Some in my life want to label it as separation anxiety. I can’t argue. There's evidence of that in my biography.
Two adults that meant the most to me in my formative years, my Nana and Dad, both died young. I don’t believe I have fully recovered from the huge craters they left in my heart's real estate.
In my now 61st year on earth, I have lived in over 22 different houses. For the last 18 years, I have lived on Route 83, which is the longest I have ever called one house my home. Now, after 24 years as the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, I will soon be on the road again.
I look around at what needs to be packed and want to cry my eyes out. It's overwhelming looking into the eyes of the people I have learned to love intensely. If I had to stand in line and express one farewell after another, I bet I would pass out from emotional exhaustion.
I should be used to it. It should be an old hat by now, but my heart would argue against that premise vehemently.
Growing up, we moved a lot. I would make great friends and have to leave them behind. The move came when I was in high school.
I loved living in Chester. I was attending West Morris Central and felt like I belonged there, but in the middle of those teenage years, my parents decided we needed to live in Peapack. Talk about being out of place trying to connect with new people in my junior year; this was the epitome of awkwardness.
To this day, I feel more connected to my Chester classmates and stay in touch with so many of them. Why did I have to go when I was in such a groove in the middle 1970s? Why don’t great times last forever? Why must we end up so far away?
“Doesn’t anybody stay in one place anymore?” Carole King sang on her legendary album, "Tapestry."
I have so enjoyed sharing my thoughts weekly in the Cape May County Herald since 1997. Art Hall allowed me to write about whatever would be on my heart in any given week. For the most part, I avoided the scathing remarks of Spout Off. My goal was not to entertain or attempt to make everyone happy.
Every week, I would first pray before I began typing, asking the Lord to give me meaningful words that might encourage someone or challenge them, make them think, bring them joy, or open the door to transformational faith.
I give credit to my dear wife, Terri, who would always read what I wrote, adding necessary punctuation marks as I tend to overuse exclamation points and don’t care much for commas. I can assure you I always pursued this assignment with passion and creativity and excellence.
More than once, someone suggested that I write a book to which I always say, “I have a filing cabinet filled with Speaking in the Light articles. Who is up for editing them into a manuscript?”
Thank You, Cape May County, for accepting me into your world and your hearts. I was never contained to a church building.
I hosted radio shows for Coastal Broadcasting. I coached youth sports teams for Middle and Dennis townships. I leaned into loving our community personally.
I prayed at the opening of Walmart. I cleaned the restrooms of our businesses, in Court House. I marched in parades. I prayed in the streets. I was driven to practice what I preach by fulfilling my Father’s words to me, “show them Jesus.”
I watched the tram car. I rode the Great White. I waved the American flag on Memorial Day, and I turned the Christmas tree lights on in Middle.
This was not just the place I worked. Cape May County was the place I lived. I loved you all. I cannot believe this chapter is about to end, but I won’t say goodbye.
“We’ll Never Have to Say Goodbye Again” was a hit song for England Dan and John Ford Coley, in 1978. We were created by God to never have to say goodbye in the first place. He placed us in the Garden of Eden to both walk with Him and stay with Him forever. Unfortunately, some slippery serpent slapped Adam and Eve with a pack of lies that caused the inaugural man and woman to reveal their social security numbers to the initial identity stealer, but God was determined to take the darkness out of death.
Jesus did what He did on Calvary, so whosoever believed in Him and received His sacrificial gift for their sins would be reunited with the Savior, and it would be so great that it would become impossible for it to ever end.
We might have to part ways for a while, but the sorrow will eventually become sweet when we arrive home, where we were always meant to be.
I might be moving on, but eventually, I will be moving up. My prayer is that you have made your reservation to embrace God’s grace by faith so that we will see each other soon.
Therefore, no long, drawn-out speeches, and let’s save the funeral songs for the dead. If I sneak out of town so that I do not rob Jesus of any praise and applause, don’t be mad at me.
People come and go, but God is the One we need to never leave or forsake us. The last I checked, Jesus is alive and well in Cape May County. Jesus is the Lord of The Lighthouse Church. As long as He is on the move, expect miraculous works to happen. Can you imagine what a day that will be when we all say, “Hello,’” and this time, that is all we will ever say?
I love you all. Keep looking up and looking out because with Jesus, the best is yet to come. Selah.
ED. NOTE: The author is the senior pastor of The Lighthouse Church, 1248 Route 9 South, Court House.