I will not take my love away.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

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You know those moments when you just know that God is near? They come at the most unexpected but most needed times for me.

These last couple of days have been emotional as I have reflected on my time in Chicago and have prepared to leave the city I have fallen in love with. Last night, some dear friends threw a little going away party for us that blessed us so much. Just knowing these people is a privilege, but getting to call them our friends is even better. Thank you, Ilene, Ryan, Jamie, Josiah, Kirra, and Taylor. We love each one of you and we will miss you.

This afternoon, Shawn had to run an errand, so I stayed at our apartment to pack up some boxes alone. We had just said goodbye to Ilene and as I read her sweet letter to me, my heart hurt a little more. Memories of Chicago flooded my mind and while I do want what the Lord has for us next, it's more difficult than I expected to let go of this place. I moved some boxes off of our couch and sat down as my eyes welled up with tears. As I did, a song came on through our computer that I'd never heard. Or, as I should really say, the Lord's voice came loud and clear through those speakers. They were His words, through Matt Wertz, that came just in time to remind me of His promises in this new season.

I will not take my love away
When praises cease and seasons change
While the whole world turns the other way
I will not take my love away

I will not leave you all alone
When striving leads you far from home
And there's no yield for what you've sown
I will not leave you all alone

I will give you what you need
In plenty or in poverty
Forever, always, look to me
And I will give you what you need

Thank you, Jesus. Your promises are just as true as they were three and a half years ago when I came to this city for the first time. He has never taken His love away.

His love was there on my first Sunday as a Moody student. A couple of girls on my hall had invited me to church, but as the service started, I couldn't help but feel so alone. I missed Texas, I missed my family, I missed my best friend Jess. Oh, and I was really cold. We stood for worship and the first song happened to be, "I am a friend of God." As we began to sing, tears rolled down my face. "He knows my name." It hit me so hard. Even if no one else knew this lonely girl in a new, scary city, He still does and He even calls me friend.

His love was there the night I was violently mugged during my first semester. The outcome could have been so much worse, but the Lord gave me supernatural strength to actually fight the guy and protected me with peace. I came out with only a bump on the back of my head and a lot more awareness of people around me. More than anything, He had proven once again that He is my shield.

His love was there during my loneliest summer in the city. I was still new to Moody and didn't know many people who were staying in the city, and I was house sitting for a family who was out of the country. I spent my days just walking around the city, getting to know it, taking long runs on the lakeshore, and learning - in quietness and stillness - that Jesus was there and was the only friend I ever needed in the first place.

His love was there the night I met my future husband in the plaza at Moody. Shawn approached me confidently, introduced himself, and even though I knew who he was (we'd had a class together), I nervously acted as though I'd never seen him. We grew to be great friends who never really thought of each other as more than that until the Lord opened our eyes at just the right time to see each other in another light. I am so thankful for the time we had as close friends. My trust and respect for Shawn was established long before I fell in love with him.

His love was there each time He placed another godly woman in my life. I have been so blessed by the example of these women. I went from feeling completely alone to having so many women in my life who have shown me Jesus and made me love Him more. I have loved antique shopping and talking for hours with Kirra, who I feel has been my friend for so much longer than we've actually known each other. I've been privileged to sit on Anna's dorm room bed and interrupt her Greek homework as we tried to sort out our lives and pray for one another. I have so enjoyed art projects and coffee dates with Ilene, and I am grateful for her support for Shawn and me from the very beginning. I have loved laughing hysterically with Melissa over ca phe sua da and am so thankful for her friendship that began in Chicago and blossomed in Viet Nam. I am thankful for the roommate I had in Kristen, who loved me enough to tell me when she thought I was crazy and offered solid advice. Thank you, Father, for these women that I love so much.

His love was there the night I sat in the back of a cab with a heavy burden on my heart that I couldn't effectively communicate with the driver about Jesus. From these rides, He inspired me to start a ministry - Manna - and many people have heard the Gospel in their own language for the first time as a result. I am in awe that I get to be a part of this and am praying for what Manna's next step will be.

I could spend hours recounting His faithfulness to me over these last few years and I really can't imagine my life story without Chicago. But He is leading us to a new place, a new community, a new everything, really. And just as He has never left us alone, He's not going to now. I have never been more confident of that.

So I sit here on our couch - the only piece of furniture that isn't wrapped in cellophane - and I know His love is here. Despite the empty walls where pictures of happier days used to hang, but now only ring with hollow echoes. And even though my heart feels like it's being emptied out again, I know He's here.

When praises cease and seasons change
I will not take my love away

3 comments:

  1. This is just so precious! I love the picture of all of you. I will be praying for you in your big move, God bless, and come visit soon!

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  2. Hi there...I've wandered over from Kirra's blog, who I also met through a mutual friend. I've scrolled down the first page of your blog and simply love, love, love it. I worked in the city for a while and really enjoyed your pics of the city for your morning walk, and the pics of your apt. It's so cute, bright, cheery, and simple but elegant! I'm delighted to "meet" you and look forward to hearing what's happening on your next adventure.

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  3. Sarah- thanks so much! We are already ready to visit again. :) Thanks for opening up your apartment to us for a little going away get-together!

    Rochelle - thanks for your encouraging comments! It's nice to meet you too!!

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