Wednesday, June 16, 2010
We had been in the Chatham church less than a year when the trouble began. It was not any one thing that we could pinpoint, just an unrest among the small group, an undercurrent of dissatisfaction. We had been instructed by the Lord just to be there as a help, and we did try to stay neutral. We loved the pastor and his wife, and we also were close to the people in the congregation. We walked a thin line.
The situation came to a climax when the deacon called Bruce. "We are going to call a vote in Church tomorrow, but I want to talk to the pastor first in his office, and I want you to be there."
Bruce balked. There was no way he wanted to have anything to do with the whole mess, but the deacon insisted. "You won't have to say anything. I just want you there for a witness."
Bruce agreed reluctantly. How could he even sit in that kind of meeting. He had been so burdened over this situation; he felt the whole weight of the Church and its testimony to the world laying heavily on his shoulders.
I have seen women in travail but never a man, and especially not my husband. But God had made a different man out of him since he had fully surrendered his will. I was beginning to see more of that gentle smile that had endeared him to me in the first place, and I was even catching an occasional glimpse of him all choked up with emotion.
But never had I seen this kind of groaning travail. I prayed silently with him. I knew God was going to do something, but I didn't know what. I didn't know until it was all over.
The next morning I sat praying in my seat in the second row from the front. Bruce was still in the office at the back with the pastor and the deacon. Then the door opened and he walked out. As he came down the isle everyone could somehow sense that the Holy Spirit had been there in that room.
Bruce reached for my hand as he sat down beside me. "It's over," he said, but I knew that even before he said it.
After a short song service, the pastor got up and spoke to the congregation. "This is the hardest thing I have ever done in my life," he said. But I love this church, and for the sake of its testimony, I am resigning."
Some of his faithful followers gasped, "No!" His wife appeared in shock. It was obvious this had not been part of his earlier plan.
Then he turned to each of the individuals that had fought for him, had been prepared to follow him to the ends of the earth. He pointed his finger and, one by one, spoke their name. "Don't you dare leave this church!" he ordered each of them. "If you leave now, what I am doing today will have been in vain. Don't you make me the cause of a church split!" He stepped down from the isle, motioned to his wife, and they left.
The church service proceeded somehow, but it was the time afterward that I remember most. There had been several cases of hard feelings between various members of the congregation. Suddenly these quarrels were over and people were making things right with each other. The Holy Spirit had taken control.
I learned later what had happened in the room at the back, how the Spirit of the Lord had caused Bruce to start weeping for what was going on. I won't share what was said in that room; what was more important was Who had entered it. He had heard the groanings, and just as Bruce's groaning over his pain had caused me to want to help him, so his groaning for the little church had brought Christ on the scene.
The pastor never lost his burden for that congregation. He continued to pray for them, and God used his prayers. We knew we had witnessed his love for the church in a way far greater than if he had stayed and fought.
God has a purpose in everything. All things work together for good even when Satan thinks he is getting the upper hand. The events that took place in Chatham proved that (watch for my next blog).
Bruce's sickness will prove it too. We are not discouraged. The doctor is still looking for answers, but God already knows, and He is still in control.
To read the next post in this series go to: Can We Please Leave Now, Lord
For how God led us to the Church in Chatham read Wrong Direction , The Cottage and Finding a House
To start at the beginning of this series go to Broken Mom Part 1
For the previous post go to Renovating - Our God is a God of Detail