Friday, November 20, 2009

Bringing good out of evil

Our God is able to bring good even out of great tragedies. As I mentioned in my other blog, last week the pastor of our small church resigned because of extramarital infidelity. A greater shock is hardly imaginable, especially for those who have been with the church much longer than I.

The thought that dismayed me the most was having to start searching for another church all over again (since the church is too small to be viable long term). Yet the Lord, within a few days, not only showed me the church He wants me to go to but also seems to have answered a prayer of mine that I've been praying literally for years.

The new church is Harvest Outreach Ministries in Mills River, which is about the same size as my previous church in Iowa, with room to grow (yeah!). Part of the church is a fledging House of Prayer patterned after IHOP in Kansas City - something I've wanted to be part of for years. All of a sudden I am practically falling over it! Of all the 150 churches in the county, not to mention all the churches in surrounding counties, the Lord seamlessly led me to the one place which has the prayer ministry I desired for so long. Now I'm praying about how to transition and keep cultivating the friendships I've built in the small church.

God is good!

Friday, November 13, 2009

Dealing with forgiveness

Last night I had a sleepless night.
Just a few hours before our beloved pastor had resigned because of unspecified moral failures. From the context I gathered he has broken his marriage covenant, though the church and godly pastors are committed to working with them towards full healing and restoration.
Many emotions came up in me: anger, feelings of betrayal, worry about the future of the small church, feelings of abandonment. Being new in town, I don't know many people yet, and I've grown close especially to the women of the church in a short time. What will happen to these friendships now? Will I have to look for one of those mega churches?
In the midst of my sleeplessness I heard the Lord speak to me very clearly. "I have fully forgiven him," He said, reminding me of 1 John 1:9. "Furthermore, I have completely forgotten the sin and will not bring it up (at the Judgment Seat)." All of a sudden all my anger was gone, and it was very easy for me to forgive him - for who am I to withhold forgiveness when the Lord Himself has forgiven him? Furthermore, I marvelled how serious the Lord is about 1 John 1:9 even in the face of serious sins, despite our flippantly quoting this verse all the time without realizing its impact. This morning I was able to write an encouraging e-mail to the pastor, expressing my forgiveness and my encounter with the Lord.
Of course, the future is up in the air. I've been through more breakups of churches than I care to count. More than ever I'm learning that there is only one solid Rock: Jesus Christ, the Crucified and Resurrected and Reigning One. The church will always fail us because it is made up of fallible humans. Nevertheless, we dare not give up on one another because Jesus has commanded us to love one another, and it is only a matter of time until we need grace of others. Therefore I will follow the Lord one day at a time however He may lead next. (Prayers are very much appreciated, however!)