Even though the weather may not reflect it quite yet, we are quickly approaching a change in the seasons. I always get excited about a new season. An anticipated change in the weather, various holiday preparations, the feeling of a fresh start – it all appeals to me, no matter what season we’re entering.
While it may be refreshing to approach a change in the physical seasons, beginning a new season of life doesn’t always feel very comfortable. In fact, it can be quite challenging – daunting, even. Of course, every new season brings some level of excitement, a sense of renewal, and a feeling of adventure, but there’s also a bit of uncertainty, difficulty, and fear that comes right along with it.
Personally, I have a hard time when it comes to life’s major season changes. Perhaps you can relate. I tend to be very sentimental, so moving from one season of life to another can be a little more bitter than sweet to me. I’m also most comfortable when things are predictable and constant, which is not typically the way life works. In fact, one of the most predictable things about life is that it is always changing.
However, in each and every change of seasons, God has brought me great comfort in the words of my favorite Bible verse, Romans 8:28: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.” I love Romans 8:28 because it is a promise of God’s care, provision, and plan to all of His children – and God never breaks a promise. This verse brings me comfort in the knowledge that although seasons will inevitably change and I may be apprehensive about those changes, God will still (and always) work for my good.
This summer, I’ve found myself reflecting on this particular season of life, and specifically on what it was like to begin this season nearly four years ago. I remember the excitement that I felt in January of 2017 when I first moved to my little home in Buies Creek to begin my journey at Campbell Divinity School. I was confident in my call to pursue theological education, energized by the thought of a new adventure, and ready to decorate my own apartment any way I wanted. It was a new season and I was excited.
But at the same time, it was a new season and I was a little afraid. Okay, I was very afraid. For the first time in my life, I was living all alone in a new apartment in a new town and studying at a new school, surrounded by strangers. That season was marked by a lot of hard-to-tackle things, like “new” and “alone.” Thankfully, just like I had in so many other transition points of my life, I held tightly to Romans 8:28 and the promise of God’s goodness even in the midst of difficulty and uncertainty.
Looking back, I see very clearly how God worked for my good, beginning with the only two people I knew in Harnett County: Jonathan Waggett and Blaine Pittman. Thankfully, when you have friends like Jonathan and Blaine, you don’t stay alone or a stranger for very long. The friendships the three of us built while serving together at Caswell extended beyond Oak Island all the way to Campbell and then to Coats Baptist Church. It is because of my friendships with Jonathan and Blaine that I first found myself at CBC. And then I never left.
The longer I’ve been at CBC, the more of a home it has become. CBC was the place where I was not only welcomed as a lonely newcomer, but where I was noticed, greeted, and included. I couldn’t count how many individuals approached me to introduce themselves in the first few Sundays that I attended. For someone far away from home, those intentional introductions meant everything. They made CBC feel like home from my very first visit.
Over the years, CBC has not only been home to me, but it has also become home to my husband. You loved me well while I was here alone, but you also thoroughly loved Erik when he moved here, too. Erik was baptized here. When we got married, we were supported and encouraged by you. CBC became our first church home as newlyweds. It’s where we’ve found friends, individually and as a couple. It’s where we’ve both found places to serve. When I first started this season of life, I couldn’t have expected how important CBC would become – simply put, it’s where we have found a home.
One of the most beautiful and difficult things about seasons is that they’re always changing. It’s a “both and” sort of situation – it’s beautiful that we aren’t stuck in the same exact season forever, but it’s difficult to adjust to constant change or to leave particularly sweet seasons. And that is exactly where Erik and I are right now.
God has recently called me to serve on staff at a church in Cary. We are celebrating and thankful for God’s provision, and we are excited to follow God’s call. However, we are also faced with the end of a very sweet season of life and ministry here at Coats Baptist Church. This season of life – marked by graduate school, engagement, marriage, and graduation – has, above all else, been defined and colored by Coats Baptist Church. We know that CBC is where God called us to be in this season, and we are endlessly thankful. You’ve brought us in, loved us, and ministered to us in so many special ways over the last few years. We are so thankful for you.
Our prayer is that, regardless of what season of life you are currently experiencing, you find comfort and rest in the promise that God works all things together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose (Rom. 8:28). Even in the midst of changing seasons, God is good. We see quite clearly how God has worked in our lives during this season at CBC – it has been so sweet to be here. You will always be home to us.
We love you and miss you already,
Erik & Micayla Neill