By Commissioner Jolene K. Hodder
“For every goodbye, God also provides a hello.”
Donna Gable Hatch
I’ll never forget the first time I tried on my white uniform. It was in preparation for our first appointment to Kenya. After donning my blouse, skirt, and tunic, I gingerly slipped my feet into shiny white heels. I topped off the ensemble with a new white hat. Then, dressed in white from head to toe, I walked into the living room to show off my new outfit to a gathering of family members.
My entrance was met with a mixture of cheers, claps and, yes, even a few tears. But in my heart, I was undecided about how I really felt. True, I was honored that the Army had enough faith in my husband and me to move us halfway around the world, but I was unhappy that I was leaving the family and country that I loved, and I was fearful of the unknown path that lay before me.
Fourteen years later, I am preparing to say goodbye again. This move to National Headquarters is certainly not as dramatic as moving to Africa, but many of the same feelings are surfacing. While I am excited over new possibilities in ministry, I will miss the USA Western Territory, my dear family, the colleagues I have grown to love, and my work as a Territorial leader.
In Isaiah 43:19 God says, “For I am about to do something new. See, I have already begun! Do you not see it?” My honest answer? No, I don’t. But I choose once again to step out in faith, follow God and answer His call.
After 22 moves so far over the course of my life, I have discovered that it is not helpful to look back, unless I do so in order to see how far God has brought me and how He has equipped me to serve in new and exciting ways. I’ve also learned that it’s not helpful to look too far ahead, as there are too many unknowns, and I can easily become overwhelmed.
Instead, I choose to look up. Jeremiah 29:11 makes it clear that God has a plan just for me. Ephesians 4:12 promises that He will equip me for the work He has called me to do, and Psalms 29:11 says that the “Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace.” Those are great reasons to look up. In fact, it all reminds me of what Buddy Owens used to say: “When I look up and fix my thoughts on God, He fixes my thoughts.”
So, farewell, my dear friends. Thank you for allowing me to travel this far with you. It’s been good. No, it’s been great! Keep looking up.