I love my church.
We first began meeting together four years ago this month, our early gatherings taking place in somebody's driveway, us sitting in our lawn chairs and fanning in the July heat, kids running hither and thither, our hearts bruised yet hopeful as we prayed and discussed and then decided we would do this thing, Lord willing.
We believed the Lord to provide because, beyond a name, covenant, and constitution and 70 or 80 willing souls, we had little else with which to build a church.
It turns out it's the Lord who builds and that truth is our joyful, humble testimony.
It may seem we haven't accomplished all that much in four years' time. I mean, we meet in a strip office building. Some of those who began with us left us (for a variety of reasons and with no ill will). Our numbers are small by most standards. Our youth group only occasionally reaches double digits in attendance. Our children have Sunday school in a windowless former doctor's office. We don't even have a sink beyond the standard bathroom sink with which to fill a coffee pot.
That's what you might see if you were to look with a merely cursory glance. But the truth is that the Lord has been faithful to us in countless ways. We may meet in an office complex but the Lord has blessed us with the financial resources to purchase twenty acres with an eye toward a building of our own. He has sent families and individuals to join our fellowship, glory to His name. In fact even as small as we are international with a Haitian member and a South African member! Who but the Lord? We are privileged to hear the Word preached with power and conviction. Our hearts are forged together with the kind of fellowship and love known only by blood bought sons and daughters of the Lord. We love each other. We enjoy each other. We love the Lord. We love His Word. We are not perfect and certainly we have our problems and old sin natures like any other group but we stand firm in one spirit and strive together side by side for the faith of the gospel. We are family.
In my forty-plus years of church attendance and participation I've never known anything like what I know now in this church with this group of believers. I am grateful. I am humble. I am blessed.
We could not have known all that the Lord would do for our good and for His glory. In fact, if truth be told, four years ago I worried much and, yes, even doubted some. My heart had been broken by the events of that July and though my husband and I knew what the Lord required of us and we eagerly stepped forward in willing obedience I could not escape the occasional twinge that wondered "Will He?" Will He provide financially for us to rent a meeting space and pay our pastors? Will He lead us and direct us through the hard work of a church split-turned-plant? Will He sustain us as we bear the reproach and loss of reputation that accompanies a situation like ours? Will He bless this leap of faith or are we crazy?
Will He? I had wondered, I doubted. But I discovered that oh, yes, He will. He did. He does.
So as another July marks another year of our journey together as the people of the Lord in this local fellowship we raise our Ebenezer and we boast: This far the Lord has brought us! Behold the grace and goodness of our faithful God! He alone is worthy of all praise and honor and glory!
What He has done among us, for His glory and the sake of His Son, is so precious that I can scarcely remember without tears in my eyes. He is so good to us. I do not understand it but I rejoice in it.
My heart is tender to those of you reading this who have no idea of this kind of fellowship laboring together side by side for the sake of the gospel. I understand. I know. I've been there. Stay strong and fight the good fight! The Lord is faithful. He sees and He knows and He is able to do more than you can ask or imagine. Maybe He will bring you to a church split or maybe He will be more gentle with you than that! I know that He calls you to be faithful in whatever realm of influence He's granted you, however large or however small. Wherever you are and whatever your circumstance, know that you can be steadfast in hope as you boldly proclaim the good news that Jesus saves. The One who calls is faithful and He is more than enough, He is everything.
Nearly every post I've written regarding our church situation rightfully ends with the heartfelt disclaimer that I bear no ill will nor do I write thumbing my nose at my former church. I pray that the Lord will continue to bless both our fellowships and that together we may be a gospel influence in our community for the sake of the kingdom and for the glory of God! Yes, Lord! Let it be!