I'm not a big 'reading significant things into significant dates' guy, but I have to say that I am fascinated by the fact that, without any intentional planning, the Southland's leadership transition takes place at 10 am on the 10th of October, 2010.
If nothing else, it makes for an unforgettable date!
Talking of unforgettable, we have just returned from an exceptionally memorable two days in the desert with Chris and Meryl and the elders. The first day was really just to honor them for who they have been to us as leaders and friends. Too many profound and sacred words were spoken to attempt a summary, but I was left with the consistent thread of appreciation, not just for where they led the people of Southlands, but for how they led.
A wise man said recently that "today everyone has vision, but few have values."
Of course, Chris is a compelling visionary, but he and Meryl have been a couple who have led with values, not just vision. They have been mindful not just of a destination, but of God's way of journeying, and God's idea of the way he wants his people to arrive at that destination. This requires great courage, patience and honesty as a leader. It requires, at times, that you arrive more slowly at your destination.
It is this quality that was mentioned again and again around the dining room table in the desert. It was who they are, more than what they have done, that has left the deepest impression over the last 14 years. They have kept watch not just over the flock, but over their souls, their marriage and their family. Among the many marriage and family casualties littering the ministry landscape today, it is noteworthy that by God's grace, they have kept their marriage and family intact. It is even more remarkable that they have learned to thrive in this area - not without challenge or conflict, of course - but with a total absence of shadows, and an abundance of joy, vitality and romance. This has been a most astonishing gift to us a community. It is a jewel among the riches of God's grace through them to us as a community, that Rynelle and treasure and hope to continue.
And so 10/10/10/10 draws near with an unmistakable sense of God's strong hand of love upon this transition and this tribe. He is the God of continuity. The God of Old and the God of the future. The already previous God has gone before us, and we journey with Him, in reverence and awe.