****Edit: It has come to my attention that some of my readers missed the announcement last night, so let me fill you in and this post will make a whole lot more sense!
Last night Pastor Viars announced that the Dutton's were leaving our church to seek a Senior Pastor position. Mark has always felt called to preach and teach in this capacity, and as a family they feel that the timing is best now for them to leave. There are no hard feelings, nothing hidden behind the scenes. This is just God's timing for them. That said, you can continue on to the rest of the post.......
Ok, now the cat is out of the bag--the Duttons are leaving and you are all reeling from the news. TRUST ME, I know. Go back and read my last post.
Can I just take a moment and try to put a little perspective on this? Each one of you who is feeling the pain of missing a mentor, friend, confidante, pastor, teacher, hero is doing so for one reason---because they invested themselves in you. Because they discipled you, counseled you, pictured Christ to you. Because they spoke the truth when you needed to hear it, even when you didn't want to hear it (sometimes). They invested their time, their personalities, their wisdom, their weaknesses in YOU. And now they are leaving. The gap is HUGE. Think of the people that they have touched in the last 18 years here. Who will continue? Shall we just stand around and look at ourselves blankly? Nah. We're going to fill the gap. We are going to invest ourselves in others. We will find the people that they would have reached out to, and we'll reach out to them. We will jump out of the boat and onto the crashing waves, and OUT of our comfort zones. After all, that's what they are modeling for us, right? This decision has not been an easy one for them, and they too, are missing us already. But they are out on the waves, where Jesus is, and the best thing that we can do, after the initial shock and good cry, is invest ourselves in them by praying for them. We can make this transition easier for them by getting on board and finding the ways to fill that gap.
I'm talking to myself here. Most of you cannot even know what this family has meant to me, or the panic I feel when I think of their leaving. But they taught me to rise above that, to not "park" in my sadness. I'm excited to think that I could be someone's "Laurie". Even just saying that makes me want to scream that I can't do it, but I can. I can stand in the gap for someone, because someone showed me how to do it.