I cannot simply summarize our time in Rock Hill. No amount of words will feel adequate, but this is my effort to share the providence of God, with deep thanksgiving for the gifts he gave us in Rock Hill & Hill City Church.
My heart is heavy and full, and like Mary, bearing witness to the mercy of God in the form of a babe – her baby – I have treasured up in my heart so many memories and individuals, which are mercies from my loving Father, to take with me to our new home.
So much of our time there was sacred, and as it often is with such times, they are best left unspoken, leaving our hearts to preserve them in their purest forms.
We moved to Rock Hill in 2012 with excitement & energy & imagination, to be part of a brand new church we knew was home from the first time we sang Abide With Me squished together in the living room of a 100 year old home in downtown. Being in Rock Hill for us was always because of and for God’s calling in our hearts to Hill City Church.
We witnessed the gospel spread, saw hearts on fire for the vulnerable & impoverished, saw people encouraging all to come experience the truth, goodness & beauty of Jesus – to belong, and be loved, even before they believed. We were part of real one another loving, and did life right along side some really incredible people.
And we thought those were the best days.
Then, we walked through the valley of the shadows together. Two suicides. Two tragic deaths. Miscarriages & difficult pregnancies. Mental illness. Trauma. Divorce. Prodigal children. Job losses. Financial strains. Addiction. Lies. Betrayal. Because of course Satan would try to slow the advances of God’s kingdom.
We stumbled through darkness, and this Presbyterian girl learned the reality of battles that are against more than flesh & blood.
It was hard. So damn hard.
But it was holy.
We knew and were known. We loved and were loved. Which is, as Tim Keller put it, a lot like being loved by God.
So, it feels irrational to leave, especially at a time when hope and healing are so tangible. It is painful to say goodbye to the nearest thing to heaven I’ve ever experienced.
Except that I am certain, because Jesus said it, for Rock Hill, and Hill City, for our family, and our new church in New York, and really, for the world:
The best days are still yet to come.