I’ve been serving as the pastor of Cornerstone Evangelical Free Church since November of 1997. That’s 17 years for you who might not be proficient at math. My 18th ‘anniversary’ is fast approaching. I have now been at Cornerstone longer than I’ve ever been anywhere else. The house I was born in saw us move out of it when I was almost six. The next house home for the next 13 years. Once I left for college, I came home for summers, but I’m not certain whether that counts. From there on out, until I arrived in Rochester, I moved frequently (college transfers, housing changes once married and still at school, internships and other pastoral calls). I want to start to count the blessings of longevity because it has truly been a blessing to ‘settle down’ in one location for many years.
One blatant blessing, apparent to anyone who has moved multiple times, is not moving! Moving companies will try to sell you ‘an adventure’. Yes, I suppose they are…the kind I don’t want. The thrill of broken household items, lost clothing, boxes and boxes to sort through, looking for that one thing you need in the kitchen. Sorry, you can have it all. I like being in one place. The adrenaline rush of someplace new? You can have it. I like the comfortable routine of knowing where I belong.
Another blessing that comes to mind is watching your own children establish roots. I’ve known several people throughout my life who had to move about every four years or so. ‘Home’ was a nebulous concept for them, at best. It was usually wherever mom and dad happened to live at the time. With the exception of our oldest daughter, our kids grew up, went to school and graduated from where we’ve been for these nearly 18 years. I think this has given them a confidence, as well as assurance, to head off to college and face a ‘new’ life on their own.
When Ann and I got married (33 years ago this coming Friday – another post for blessings too numerous to mention), we rented an apartment. After living there for just one year, we moved in with an 83-year-old widower who needed just a little help around his large home in Highland Park, IL (all in exchange for no rent or other bills – another blessing I could recount at great length). We served a one-year internship in Iowa before moving to Fargo for four years. During the internship, a home was provided (thanks to the church, since they could barely pay us anyway). While in Fargo, we rented a small house. It was cute (an old); quaint and comfy, for Fargo living. Then came my first ‘solo’ pastorate near Council Bluffs, Iowa. We rented a very tiny house there. It was three of us by that time and let’s just say that three of us filled the available space. We didn’t own our own home until we moved to Altoona, Iowa. Our first house was an intimidating landmark for us, having only served very small churches and now having two children. We were just getting started at making that house ‘ours’ through the interior decorating and the exterior landscaping and gardening projects before the church closed and we knew we’d be moving again. So, the clear blessing out of all this to me (and I know to my darling wife) is having a house that has truly become ours. Over the years, we’ve shaped much of the inside to our liking. I’ve worked diligently to landscape and get our yard and floral gardens to a point where I really don’t (can’t?) need to do anything more than maintain it.
Well, that’s three, and I haven’t even begun to speak of the spiritual blessings that come from pastoring the same church for this many years. That’s a good thing…it gives me food for another blog post or two in the coming days.
What blessings have you experienced from longevity? What blessings have you known from short stays?