Wednesday, January 16, 2008

And so it is

Yesterday I read a post by a fellow blogger describing her frustration with her church. I know her pain; I know it well. My heart is tender as I reflect on her struggle and mine.

I've been honest here on this blog, if not with the details, at least with the generalities of our church's problems. Over the years many families left, and often, very often, we wondered if we ought not do the same. Quitting, leaving, heading elsewhere, anywhere, was a real temptation. We grew weary in the wait, wondering whether to leave or whether to stay.

Over and over I would claim both Lam. 3:25, The Lord is good to those who wait for Him, and Gal. 6:9, Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart, but to be honest, I grew quite weary doing good, if I did any good at all, and I doubted the Lord would be good (according to my expectation) nor that there would be a harvest to reap.

I would sense the Holy Spirit asking me, "Lisa, will you be My woman, here in this place even when it's hard and when things aren't as they should be? Even if I never do all that you want Me to do, will you be faithful to serve Me?" I had to decide: did I want to say Yes to whatever the Lord would ask, even if it meant surrendering all that I so fervently wanted Him to do?

Hard questions, to be sure. I wish I could say my faith was firm and my conviction unshakable, that I never wavered in unbelief, but was strengthened in faith, giving glory to God, being fully convinced that what He had promised He was able to do (Rom. 4:20-21). I wish I could say that, but I can't.

To say it wasn't easy would be an understatement. I longed for God to come to us like the rain, but I doubted He would. As I told my blogger friend, many, many Sundays I would ride home from church in tears, wondering, wishing, doubting.

But our God is faithful, and He began to reveal to me that the largest portion of my frustration was due to my selfish, self-centered preferences, despite my seemingly righteous indignation. This was I wanted to happen, and when it did not, my frustration and doubt grew.

That is not to say there was no good. There was. Our tendency is to dwell on the bad, and dwell I did.

I clung to the promise that Lord would be good to those who wait on Him and now, in the perfect timing of our sovereign God, this is my testimony: He is. He is!

Our hope is as good as His promise and He is the ever faithful God who can and will do more than we could ever ask or imagine! I could not have fathomed a year ago all that has transpired, both "good" and "bad," but here on the other side I see His plan and His purpose at work.

What if we had left? What if we had decided it was too hard and the price too high and our own needs and wants more critical? What if we chose comfort over faithfulness?

I do not in any way condemn those who did leave, but I do know this: had we left the first time or the hundredth time we wanted to, we would have missed seeing the sovereignty and glory of our God who does all things well in His time. We would miss the sweetness of knowing He hears and answers the prayers of His people and that all things do work together for our good and His glory. We would miss the fullness of the praise due Him.

Hear me: my testimony is NOT we believed and therefore God did, as if we somehow coerced God into action. I do not say to you who may find yourselves in a difficult situation, church or otherwise, "just believe God and you'll get everything you want." Quite the contrary.

Rather, with my heart breaking because of the tender mercy of my God, I say to you: Stand firm, seek Him and find that whatever comes, He knows what's best and He will show Himself faithful in ways you could not have imagined.

Consider an excerpt from this post:

....when God reveals His power and His faithfulness here in this present circumstance--and I did say WHEN because He WILL, He must, He alone is our hope--I will be unable to say that I believed and therefore God came, as if my faith were sufficient or adequate to prompt God to act. My faith has been weak. Many days not even a mustard seed's worth. I've desperately wanted to believe He would hear and answer with awesome deeds of righteousness, I've deeply desired to be faith-full, yet so often the (perceived) impossibility of the situation seemed the greater reality.

I admit this with much shame and conviction.

When I behold the glory of God in this circumstance, I know it will be despite me and certainly not because of me. It will be because God is God and I am not. It will be because He is good and faithful and I am weak and unworthy. It will be because of His grace, undeserved, unmerited, freely and unreservedly poured out without measure. It will be so He alone receives all glory, honor and praise.

And so it will be.


And so it is.

11 comments:

  1. Oh, girl...I know what you mean. Our church went through the same thing several years ago when our pastor left. Many people left, and I wanted to go before he did. Had it been up to ME, we would have. But my husband wanted to stay, and I submitted to his leadership. That was TOUGH, because my heart was already out the door. BUT, I can say that I'm so glad I was obedient to my husband & didn't manipulate him into leaving...because the reward has been great. Like you, I learned it wasn't about my preferences. There was a battle going on in the Heavens, and He wanted people in place to fight. Praise His Name...our church had people who, unlike me, were willing to do just that. He had the man for the job, and arranged circumstances to bring that man to our church. I'm so grateful that His plans always prevail...and that He allows us to enjoy the blessings from that.

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  2. You made me stand up and clap, girl! Amen!!!

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  3. Oh Lisa, this was so beautiful and encouraging! Thank you for sharing about God's faithfulness and sovereignty, and thank you for being a consistent example of a woman seeking to trust God, to wait on Him, and to expectantly watch for his guidance and help.

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  4. Lisa,
    I have been through this too. Sometimes I handled it prayerfully, other times I acted selfishly and unGodly. I learned so much through it all.

    I love what you write about faith and the fact that faith is not a string we pull to make God move for us. I sat under wrong teaching about this for years.

    Your post and your heart are beautiful!
    Hugs,
    Sue

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  5. He is the faithful one for sure!

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  6. This captures some things God taught me in the past few months. He is in control, He is sovereign--although I may not always understand His leading.

    Thanks for sharing so personally about your struggle. I know this issue is one many deal with.

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  7. Wow. My family and I have been going through a very similar situation at our church, our Pastor resigned in May of last year and my husband resigned as deacon in August. My goodness, the roller coaster we have been on, should we stay or should we go....

    But God is faithful (and merciful!) and we finally found our Pastor this past Sunday. It's like the clouds have finally lifted.

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  8. Those are wise words. The key is to be where God wants you, not where you "feel" you should or want to be. We stuck it out at a church for quite some time, but there came a point that we very clearly felt God say we were done there and it was time to move on.

    How it must break God's heart and make Satan dance a jig to see such dissention in churches. . . .

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  9. I'm perhaps one of the most impatient people on the planet! I'm still learning how to wait on Him. It's wonderful that you are trusting and waiting on the Lord.

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  10. I admire your prayerful and submissive approach and your willingness to stay. We tried to stay in our situation, but finally we sensed a release to go, but it was- and still is in some ways - a difficult decision, and I am still examining my own heart and motives. The Lord is gracious and we are experiencing healing where we are, but I do hope we did not go for purely selfish reasons. Thank you for sharing your own journey with us.

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  11. I needed to hear this today - thank you!

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