Saturday, March 17 2018 - 4:18 PM
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Alpha and Omega

I enjoy seeing a need and starting a group or service for that. I am a pretty great starter. Yet I am coming to the end of one of my life ministries. I have facilitated a women’s support group in my city for about 12 years. Funding for my work has disappeared and the group members aren’t able to pay to attend. I remember when I first started a support group and the pastor at that location mentioned that he had been taught that ministries often run active for about five years. So this is well overdue by those standards.

In our last session one of the group members was troubled about needing to end a draining friendship with someone who refuses to change. I tried to encourage her that sometimes there are “necessary endings” for all of us–divorce, death, moves, job loss, separation from unhealthy or damaging relationships.

I have noticed some of my Facebook friends have been pruning their friend lists and dropping those who don’t contribute, don’t play nice, or don’t match their interests. When we have limited time, energy, resources and life–pruning in some way is necessary for the health of an institution or a person. Author Dr. Henry Cloud states: “To hold on to ‘hope’ when what you really have is merely a wish is to fail to grasp reality.”* He also reminds us that the past is the best predictor of future behavior as relates to relationships.

Jesus modeled and taught the necessity of endings. After he made some very plain and pointed statements, many of his early disciples walked away (John 6:66). We have no record that Jesus ran after the deserters or that he knocked on doors that evening to beg them to return. Later Jesus told his mission-driven disciples that if they weren’t welcomed in towns or homes, to “shake the dust off your feet” and leave (Matthew 10:11-14). Time came when Jesus ended his earthly mission for the next step in our salvation and redemption (Mark 16:19, 20).

The loss of a meaningful or time-consuming activity– one driven with passion and prayer, can lead to some grief or aimlessness. It can also open ways for other people to find their mission and create new services as God leads. Letting go can open up space previously occupied in our hearts.

Books, movies, series, classes, cereal boxes, bank accounts–everything ends.

In so many ways I am in the school of learning to become a gracious “ender.” I am left with mixed feelings about something that I still feel is important and not duplicated in my community. If I am honest, I feel sadness, anger, some relief, and anticipation at this ending. What might happen next? At ending times, can I trust God to help re-shape my life and legacy, and make good use of my remaining time and talents?

Questions for personal journaling or group discussion:

1. When have you benefited from an ending?
2. What/whom might you be hanging onto that needs to end?

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About Karen Spruill

Karen Spruill

writes from Orlando, Florida.

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