by David Sisler

The little one arrives, a helpless blob of flesh, devoid of personality and reason, existing only on instinct. But one morning you wake up and this entity you helped to create is more than alive, she is growing, developing, and thankfully (or maybe not) becoming like those who gave her life and birth.

She grows. She learns. She changes. One day she speaks. The next day she walks. The third day she starts to school. You tuck her in at night and she rewards you with a tiny hug and butterfly kisses. Soon she is asking for the car keys, promising, "Dad, I'm just going to the mall to hang out with some friends." Then your reverie is shattered as the organist strikes up the Wedding March and you place her hand in the hand of a handsome young man who promises to love her, cherish her, care for her, and give himself for her.

That is as it should be. That is the way of all things.

But back up a few years. You are dropping her off at school. She cried that first day and held on to you like a shipwreck victim clinging to a lifeboat. But by the second or third day, she jumps out of the car, blows you a kiss and says, "You don't need to come in, Daddy. All my friends are waiting."

You arrive at your office, pick up the morning mail, fill your favorite cup with strong, hot coffee and stop at your secretary's desk. She hands you one message. It is from your supervisor, and the message to return his call is urgent.

Safely inside your office, the door closed behind you, you take a long pull from the coffee cup and marvel at the wonder of God's creation that He would make something so wonderful, so full of flavor. The hot liquid is absolutely regenerating.

You set the cup down and hit speed dial. Your supervisor's assistant answers the phone and you say, "I'm returning his call." He comes immediately on the line. Mentally you check, but all of the "I"s have dots and all of the "T"s have crosses. Things could not be better.

"I am moving you," the boss says, with little preamble. "You have no choice in this matter," he continues. "Remember the contract you signed when you came to work."

The numbing shock sinks deep into your gut. You never planned to move. Your baby is here. You are watching her grow. The only move you anticipate making is a ride in the back of the funeral coach, and that not for another fifty years.

You hang up the phone, dash out of the office and tell your secretary, "Cancel my appointments. I'm going to headquarters."

You arrive unannounced but not unexpected and the office manager shows you in.

"Let's talk about this," you say. "I do not want to move. I do not want to leave my little girl for someone else to raise. I want to be here. I want to greet the first young man who comes to take her on a date. I want to hear the joy in her heart as she flashes a sparkling diamond, glittering on her hand."

"You have to move," the boss says. "I am sending another father to raise your child. You will now be the father to an aging man. His health needs improving, and he has already had a half dozen fathers, each of whom have imprinted their values on him. I need you to turn him around and make him a growing, productive member of society."

If your boss had kicked you in the groin and then physically torn your heart out, it would not have hurt more and at least the pain would have ended quickly. You tell your precious daughter, "Honey, I am moving. I am leaving you. It is the job. Someone else will be your Daddy now and raise you. I can be your Dad no longer."

She gasps and shakes and cries. But it is no good. Nothing can change the situation. You are moving. You are leaving your child, the child you fathered, helped to birth, and began to raise. Someone else will finish the job and you will raise a stranger.

Far-fetched, you say. If the daughter was a human child. And if the father worked a regular job. But what if this father is a pastor? What if the child is a church which he and God birthed, its growth both rapid and powerful? What if the boss is the leader of a denomination?

It happens. It happened to me. It happens to many pastors. It is happening to mine.

But this is not my church, or the pastor's, of the bishop's. It is God's church. Jesus promised, "I will build my church, and nothing, not the gates of hell, or even a pastoral move, will prevail against it."

I think of another Bible verse, the Old Testament, the Book of Job. Recounting a multitude of changes which happened in the patriarch's life, the writer said, "So the Lord blessed the latter end of Job more than his beginning." That is hope enough.


Published in the Augusta Chronicle 6/14/97

Copyright 1997 by David Sisler. All Rights Reserved.

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