They arrive in the mail and show up on Facebook– photos of that little girl we used to know, all dressed up in cap and gown, or that toddler now wearing a tie. It is the season of completions, and new beginnings– graduation. But it is a different kind of commencement at our house this week. Yesterday was my husband’s last Sunday on staff as a pastor (at least a pastor of the paid variety). Yesterday we passed the baton of the church we started in our living room to a fantastic team of people, and today we head off on a new adventure. As all good endings are, it is a commencement.

So I have been mulling over my prayer for these people. What is it I hope they will do? How is it I hope this church will grow? What is my prayer for our own family, going forward? This moment is hushed, one of the rare times we can point to a specific turning point and say, “from now on, everything is changed for us.” Usually those moments slide by unannounced, only to be noticed much later. But today I see it, clear as day. It is a yellow ticker tape, a finish line– a starting block, too. We were one leg of the relay, and the next runner is taking off.

And so, this is my prayer.

One, that we will love the Lord our God with all of our hearts, our minds, our soul and strength. Just because it’s obvious doesn’t mean it isn’t worth stating. “Thou and Thou only, first in my heart, High King of Heaven, my treasure Thou art.” I pray that we will hold nothing back in that love, that we would gladly spend it all, that love will consume our thoughts, our days, that we would have, as a church, a “sweet madness for Jesus.”

Two, that we will let mercy lead. Let love guide every conversation with every broken brother, every broken neighbor. He who is forgiven much, loves much, so I pray that we will remember how much we have been forgiven. Mercy and grace and peace be upon us.

Three, that we will fix our hearts on things above. We are all of us just a wave in the ocean, and for a minute, it seems like a Big Deal. One wave in one ocean on one tiny planet, here for a moment and then gone. May we fix our eyes on things eternal, live for forever.

And four, that we will sleep with our sandals on and a staff in our hands, ready to go at any moment, ready to follow wherever God leads. May we be fearless and bold, and make up in our minds right now to count the cost without a second thought when called upon. May we choose to live radically abandoned lives, holding loosely, for the joy of the gospel.

Oh, my sweet church, you will always be our family, and I am so honored, so thankful, to have spent a season with you.

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