It’s been about three years since my wife and I got back into ministry and moved to Curry, AL. It took about a week for us to fall in love with all of the people there. That love remains, and I’m sure will always remain. For some reason they chose to love me, embrace me and accept me as part of their family. We have been blessed with life-long friends and people we hold so dear that are now part of our family. For that I will be eternally grateful.
I must admit that I was heart-broken when the circumstances there began to change and eventually led to us leaving Curry. I was certain that we would be there for a long time (as were many of the people that we left). I was sure that God had purposefully sent me there to teach and help them grow past some of the things that I felt were holding back many of the Churches in the area. Maybe that was arrogant of me? Maybe I was right? Or perhaps God did have a purpose for us there and we fulfilled and then He sent us on our way. To this very moment, I’m not sure which it is. I mean that. Sometimes I wonder if Satan didn’t enter the picture and infect a few people who messed everything up. Then there are other times when I feel like they just weren’t ready yet. I just don’t know.
But a year later, here’s what I do know . . . God’s good at His job. He knows what he’s doing. I am seeing his hand prints all over my life and the lives of the people in my church family. He’s using me, and that makes me happy. It doesn’t erase all of the hurt and disappointment, but it helps. I now have a new church family who loves me and cares for my wife and kids. So I didn’t give up anything in the trade. But what I do have now that I didn’t have then is the freedom, support and encouragement to be myself. There’s a lot to be said for sleeping well at night.
My church family now embraces my doubts and my questions. They accept that I’m not perfect and they don’t expect me to be. They haven’t created a mold of a preacher and asked me to change so that I fit inside that mold. They will never know how grateful and appreciative I am for there grace. Because of their attitudes I have been able to grow more spiritually in the past year than in my previous 19 years of being a Christian. I’m not exaggerating. I’m dead serious. How can you put a price tag on that? Or possibly demonstrate the value of that for your life? I will struggle with adequately saying thank you for as long as we stay here.
As I reflect on the past couple of years I see God’s handiwork. I still don’t know what He’s up to. I really don’t. I still wonder why He’s done the things He’s done. But I marvel and remain in constant awe of what He’s done with me and all that He’s doing in spite of me. Be certain of that one thing family, whatever good comes out of my ministry, God is at the center and in complete control of all of it. For that, we should all take a moment and reflect on His handiwork.