What God Taught Me about Loving and Leaving
For 20 years, it was my home. The place where friends once strangers became family. The place where I raised my son, but I also grew up spiritually. It set me free to write, to use my gifts, and to create ministry. My worship of God grew in awareness of and in service to the oppressed. My passion for eradicating childhood poverty was birthed in this sacred place. I never would have considered starting my non-profit if not for the seeds sown into my life by my home church, Friendship-West Baptist Church and its pastor, Dr. Frederick D. Haynes, III.
That’s why leaving was so hard.
But it should have been hard. Over the years, I’ve discovered that I serve best that which I love, and I loved the “Wild Wild West”. I still do. I love the ministry and the pastor. I love the people and I still feel their love for me, but God was enlarging my personal territory. The love would last a lifetime, but my season would eventually end.
Every departure is not birthed out of drama, nor should it be.
Whether it be a ministry, a job, or a relationship, taking the option to leave should only be in obedience to God. Divine destiny will not manifest any other way.
Abraham knew that. He loved his grieving father, Terah, and he missed his deceased brother, Haran, but he had to leave. The family had previously been set on a path to Canaan, but Terah’s destiny and peace was in the city of Harran (Haran and Harran - queue the spiritual irony). God called Abraham to Canaan, and the love and support of his family would go with him.
No arguments. No debates.
Just obedience and trusting God to take care of what and who you leave behind.
That’s how you love and leave.
Every one of us will have moments in life where we must make hard choices about our future.
If your decision might require movement, consider three things:
#1 - Is this my destination or just a season?
Abraham was 75 years old when God call him out to Canaan. Sometimes, there's a work to be done before destiny. Abraham had work to do in Harran first. His family needed to heal. His father needed peace. God would not have him leave and those who remained not only be okay but flourish. Harran (the city) means “a parched, hot land.” Haran’s (the son) name mean “mountaineer”, one existing in a place of fullness. It was the destiny of Terah, not Abraham, to bring the legacy of Haran in ministry to the city of Harran and he did so even after Abraham’s departure, living a total of 205 years.
The season in Harran taught Abraham how to bring new life to new territory. Canaan would benefit from the lessons of Harran.
Always take the best parts of your season with you.
#2 – Are you leaving in obedience or because of people? Never leave because of people. Leave because of obedience.
The Lord had said to Abram, “Go from your country, your people and your father’s household to the land I will show you. ~Genesis 12:1
No matter the circumstances in Harran, Abraham stayed open and obedient to the voice of God.
So Abram went, as the Lord had told him; and Lot went with him. Abram was seventy-five years old when he set out from Harran. He took his wife Sarai, his nephew Lot, all the possessions they had accumulated and the people they had acquired in Harran, and they set out for the land of Canaan, and they arrived there. ~Genesis 12:4-5
Always, respond to the Divine, not drama.
#3 – After you leave, what do you expect from God? Expect to be blessed.
God made promises to Abraham (make you a great nation, make your name great, bless those who bless you, curse those who curse you), but he didn’t just bless him in Canaan. Abraham was blessed wherever he went. On two separate occasions, his life was spared when he lied saying his wife Sarah was his sister. He became wealthy in the midst of a famine. He had the resources to rescue his nephew, Lot.
Moving doesn’t mean you are alone.
Grace and mercy follow you. Anticipate God’s favor along the way.
It’s been almost three years since my departure from Friendship-West, and the love is still there. I smile when I think of how it impacted my life, and celebrate their victories as I celebrate my own. That’s what it means to be the “body of Christ”; each of us finding and fulfilling purpose while the blood of Jesus flows through us all.
Breaking camp doesn’t break God’s bond between us, so stay the course.
Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. ~Hebrews 12:1-2a
Next week, we’ll discuss how to be undeterred by delays and distractions. See you then.