Two women. One purpose.
To have my husband fired from the church.
One can only speculate exactly the things they said or told the pastor. That particular detail is not important now. I cannot even tell you when things changed, for when we first came to the church we were befriended by them both and included in all of their comings and goings. Lesson learned. But it still broke my heart. I like to be open with people and include them in my life…who knew it would come around and slap me in the face?
We had just returned from vacation and Justin went off to work (He is a youth pastor by the way). About an hour later he was home and his words fell heavy on my heart…”I was just fired. I was told that if I left “quietly” that we would get a month of pay and that the church would help us since the baby was coming.” Yep, you read that right, I was about 3 months pregnant with our third child. And then it all fell apart.
The pastor had not consulted the deacons on his decision to fire Justin and the church body was in shock. Rumors swirled around like wildfire and our phone and doorbell rang like I have never heard before. The church almost split…but through it all God was right there.
I remember seeing my husband broken, His heart, his spirit, his zest for life….gone. He said to me one day: “I still love God but I hate the church.” That was some deep hurt. He had decided to leave the ministry and was searching everywhere he could for a “secular” job to no avail. Everything that the pastor had promised did not happen…we were on government assistance and I was on bed rest and could not work….it all seemed so dark and grim.
But God was right there.
One God. One purpose.
To save the world.
It has been almost 6 years since that time. I can honestly look back and tell you that it was the best 9 months of our life. We had nothing…yet we had everything. When I thought it was all falling apart..it was falling right into place. You see that summer and fall…we got to really see God. We stopped focusing on the people of the church and learned to see the Head of the church. Justin was able to be there for a youth group whose youth pastor tried to take his own life…their broken hearts helped to heal his. I got to sing praise uninhibited by “judging” eyes, on a Saturday night no doubt, with a great group of people. It was a new beginning….
So why tell you this? Why do I share this story?
Because I want to share what I learned. What we learned….what “two people who grew up in church living a so called ‘easy’ life not making “mistakes” (HA!) or doing it backwards” learned. What “we who loved the church and loved being there all the time for everything” learned.
We all need Jesus.
1. Churches are not perfect. All who “belong to the Lord” (the church) are flawed and sinful. (And I am first in line!) (Romans 3:23 and Isaiah 64:6) but the Head of the Church is not. We must keep our eyes focused on Jesus. (Psalm 16:8 and Hebrews 12:2).
2. You can have a mended heart if you: a. Pray for those who hurt you (Matthew 5:44 and Romans 12:14) and b. Remember that when you can’t love the church, you should still love God (Matthew 22:37 and Ephesians 4:25-32)
3. Just like you can only bring one heart to God for mending, you only have one life that you can control and live for Christ. (Colossians 1:10 and Ephesians 5:1-2)
And just so I don’t leave you hanging….God moved us to a wonderful church body where we serve today. It is not a perfect church body, but it is a Bible believing church that loves to love others. Justin and I no longer dwell on what happened and our heart no longer drops to our stomach whenever the pastor asks to talk to Justin. I have found safety in a friend with whom who I can share “all of me”, which is a great gift that I treasure. And Justin found his spark again and is walking in the way God called Him…ministering and being a light in this community!
And God is still right here.
Join us online or in person as we study “The Mended Heart” By Suzie Eller of Proverbs 31 Ministries. Calvary Baptist Church, Roanoke Rapids, NC. Tuesdays @ 6 or find us on facebook..Faithfully Fit.