I remember reading a passage in Daniel for a Bible Study, it talked about the sacred articles of the temple being carried away and used for unsacred purposes. I felt like that was what was happening to our church. Our precious members, my friends and family, were being carried away.
I literally and physically cried out to God! I did not understand! I didn’t even know what or how to pray! How could we be going through this? How could it be beneficial to growing the kingdom of God? Why? Why? Why?
To God, I probably looked like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum when they don’t get their way. And that is probably more accurate than I would care to admit! Because in reality I just didn’t see the bigger picture God had planned.
God was slowly changing and growing my personal faith, while He was doing the same for my church. I was being forced to rely more on Him and my personal relationship with Him. Just as our church was being forced to do the same.
Deep faith and trust were beginning to take root. Our human efforts were failing , what was left except to fall back on God? Why did we have to fall so far to do that?
I remember another conversation with an elder’s wife. She suggested that our church was going through this time because we had become prideful. Prideful? Ouch! That hurt! Yet I could see truth in the words she spoke. I had become prideful in my church being the “it church” in town. My perspective on what makes a church successful had become pretty warped and was in desperate need of adjustment by God.
At the end of the summer of 2011 we had a church body update, the first of many to come. But this one was significant. In my opinion it was the beginning of our healing and growth as a church body.
There was a request for forgiveness for mistakes made in the past and hurt that had been caused to people along the path we had chosen as a body. Acknowledging the hurt we had been through together was like turning a corner. We admitted mistakes, made apologies and began the journey of forgiveness and healing.
This topic of forgiveness is one that has come before me many times over the last year. After that church meeting we began a prayer emphasis – praying individually for each member of our body. And we intentionally included those who had left our church family.
That convicted me, because I hadn’t realized I harbored some feelings of resentment toward those who had moved on. I realized this was wrong and prayed God would bless those who had left and the churches they were a part of.
I also began to realize the power of prayer, not just as a way to present our requests to God, but as a two-way communication that He uses to speak truth back into our lives.
Forgiveness came up again this past summer as I listened to a song on the radio by Matthew West called “Forgiveness”.
It has such powerful words that speak of forgiving even when we don’t feel like it or we feel the person doesn’t deserve it.
I had just ended a long phone conversation with a friend. During that conversation I realized again that I was harboring resentment toward individuals that had caused strife in our church before leaving and had also caused pain to some of my immediate family.
As I was stripping wallpaper in my kitchen, that song came on the radio and I wept at the way God planned that moment. He was speaking so loudly to me and stripping away unforgiveness in my heart just like the paper coming off the walls in my kitchen.
I had to forgive in order to move forward with what He had planned for me and for our church family.
In prayer there is a connection between what God does and what you do. You can’t get forgiveness from God, for instance, without also forgiving others. If you refuse to do your part, you cut yourself off from God’s part. Matthew 6:14-15 The Message
Examine your heart as I examine mine. Is there any unforgiveness that needs to be stripped away from you today?