Monday, July 15, 2013

A post I didn't plan...

Your love, oh Lord, reaches to the heavens, Your faithfulness to the skies.  Psalm 36:5

I sat down tonight and opened my computer for the first time in a long time.  I never planned to go to my blog and write.  In fact, writing has been so far off my radar this summer that I cringe to even call myself a writer. 

It had been months since I sat in a church service with tears streaming down my face.  In fact, it had been months since I've cried at all.

I made up for that today.  A healing took place in me that only He can orchestrate in the heavens.  I am where I need to be.

Yet my soul is burdened.

For over 10 years I had been a member of a wonderful church.  My family and I had served in many capacities during that time.  VBS, youth group, Mom's group, bible studies, Awana.  My children were fed the Truth every Sunday.  I had friends and 'family' that I prayed with and for.  Bonds that I thought would last a lifetime.

However, when my husband and I separated and headed for divorce, things changed.  Eyes were diverted.  Serving capacities altered without my knowledge.  And in my grief, many were gone.  One conversation with my pastor kept returning in my mind.  He told me that the church was to care for the widows and the orphans.  Not the divorced.  I thought at the time, he meant financially.  But as days, weeks and even months drifted by, I began to think differently.

I have had a few friends and a beautiful group of women from our seniors group rally around me.  Women who are strong in their faith and seasoned.  Who understand grace in their own lives and give it freely in mine.  Women who have showered me with kindness in cards and phone calls and dinners out.  Who pray with me and for me.  And who have shown me what it is like to truly love a Sister in Christ.  Never adding to my already felt shame.

They encouraged me to give it time.  To not cause anymore change in my children's life than the chaos already experienced. But a little over a year later, and after much prayer, it came to the point where I needed to move on.

Before each service at a new church I would attend, I prayed for guidance.  I needed clear direction for where He would have me serve.  I also knew I needed to find a place to heal.  To heal not only from my broken marriage, but from the hurt I had experienced by His people.

After months of looking, I still had not found a home.  But one Sunday a couple of months ago, I walked into a new church, hopeful.  They were in the middle of a series on family and this particular sermon was on the role of the church.  The pastor talked about how the church is to come alongside the family unit in support.  He also acknowledged that many families are broken by sin and even divorce.  He said in that case, the church becomes even more vital to the family unit.  Not just an extension, but an integral part.

My soul had peace.

Isn't this what Jesus did?  Didn't He love and serve regardless of marital status?  He broke bread with liars and thieves and prostitutes.  He healed those who doubted Him.  He gave of Himself even when He knew they would not give thanks.  (Luke 17:11-19)  He loved selflessly to the cross.

Not a single one of us deserves His sacrifice.  Not all of us will receive it.  But He did it anyway.

This was His ministry.  Not an event.  Not a title.  People.

Wasn't this His warning against the Pharisee?  (Luke 11:37-54 and Matthew 23:1-12)

A new Barna Group study confirms this may be happening in church's all across the country.  In this self-righteous society that can always shift blame, can we be surprised this is seeping into the walls of our churches?  Are those leaving the church screaming hypocrisy, more on target than we'd like to admit? 

He desires more.  He calls His Church be more concerned about His people, than it's ministry, lest we become the Pharisee. [tweet this].   And if we hope to be entering into a time of revival in our nation, we must make a change.  Because He will not bless us with a harvest until we are better equipped.
I believe one way to assess this in your own life is to look around at the people you spend most of your time serving and worshiping with.  Do they look just like you?  Do they all have the same socioeconomic status: married, middle class with 3.5 kids, a house and two vehicles?  Similar church background?

You can argue area or majority, but honestly if you do, you're just not looking with His eyes.  Because pain and hurt and need for a true Savior is everywhere.  Brokenness is around every corner.  The broken may never stay if they feel they may never measure up.  Our churches need to reflect His ministry.  Not our preference. [tweet this].

I share my story not to blame or shame.  I share because my soul is burdened.  In all honesty, it took a major tragedy in my life to see what I had accepted as truth.  We need to lie down our preconceived notions of what we 'think' a Christian should look like and be real.

Ezekiel 33:13 (ESV)
13 Though I say to the righteous that he shall surely live, yet if he trusts in his righteousness and does injustice, none of his righteous deeds shall be remembered, but in his injustice that he has done he shall die.

Isaian 64:4-9 (NIV)
Since ancient times no one has heard,
    no ear has perceived,
no eye has seen any God besides you,
    who acts on behalf of those who wait for him.
You come to the help of those who gladly do right,
    who remember your ways.
But when we continued to sin against them,
    you were angry.
    How then can we be saved?
All of us have become like one who is unclean,
    and all our righteous acts are like filthy rags;
we all shrivel up like a leaf,
    and like the wind our sins sweep us away.
No one calls on your name
    or strives to lay hold of you;
for you have hidden your face from us
    and have given us over to[a] our sins.
Yet you, Lord, are our Father.
    We are the clay, you are the potter;
    we are all the work of your hand.
Do not be angry beyond measure, Lord;
    do not remember our sins forever.
Oh, look on us, we pray,
    for we are all your people. 
((emphasis my own))

Isaiah 64:6 is sometimes taken out of context.  God call us to do good works.  It is not our works that are like filthy rags to Him.  But as Isaiah wrote this, the Israelites had turned their backs on Him.  They had walked away from what they knew. 

May we be faithful to go back to what we know.  May we be His hands and His feet in this broken world that desperately needs redemption.  May He use my words only to speak His truth.  And may we be open to where He may be asking us to make a change.  May we be obedient as future generations are following our example.  And may we be ready for a revival like we've never seen before.  


Amanda Beam said... Miss you sweet lady. Hugs and prayers to you.

Andi said...

A friend has been passing on your blog to me. It amazes me how much our lives are similar. Thank you for writing, thank you for sharing, thank you for putting yourself out there. You are not alone in your struggles, and you have made me feel not so alone, either. You have no idea how much each thing parallels something for me. Sometimes I feel like I wear the scarlet letter! Thanks again. My prayers are with you on your journey and with your kids. My God bless you and guide you!!!

Sheena said...

Jesus didn’t distance himself from the broken, and sinners, etc.. It saddens me that we (His body, the church) misrepresent Who He is. Jesus shows up in the midst of our mess and brokeness. We His body must align our hearts with His heart and show up in the dark, broken, messy places of His children and bring healing.

tparker said...

There was none more broken than Jesus and His church saw to it that He was crucified. This is a message that needs to be told. Kudos to you, my Friend. Praying for your message to reach far and wide.

Nancy Bouwens said...

beautiful heart- sharing real... God is good in the midst.. he does not change nor let us down- not even if his body does. Your story parallels my heart.. we went through similar when we experienced shame in the addiction of one of my sons- the church sometimes forgets- their mission is to love, to stand with and to be Jesus with skin on to the world... even if "the world" sits in the pew beside them. blessings as you write to bring hope. Nancy

Anonymous said...

My heart is grieved by what you've experienced on several levels. I pray for healing in this new place, with new friends who will sincerely be there for you through life's ups & downs, and the everyday. I am so glad to know you, and the strong woman you are. Always remember you've got a friend in me! Love & Blessings to you! Cathy N

christy said...

My friend, I've been exactly where you are. I was left for spiritual dead after my divorce. Left alone by the church, by neighbors, by people who righteously proclaimed His love, peace, and forgiveness. It has taken me a long time to forgive the church, but Healing has come. Love and hugs to you. Christy - Wholly Healing Experience.

Erin K. said...

Hoping you find happiness in this new beginning for you. It breaks my heart to read this and hear of the pain that can only be caused by those you believed would never hurt you. I think it hurts even more because it is unexpected hurt in a place you felt safe. I am glad that you are finding freedom in Christ's love. People will let you down, hurt you, cut you to the bone. Our only hope is in Him and Him alone. Blessings to you friend~