My husband began his first pastorate in the little town of Camden, SC. I was only 20 years old. I was a naïve, immature child of God. With honesty I can say, I had little to no clue what I was doing, and I can honestly say, I really thought everyone in the Church would play nice. Here I am forty-five years later, testifying that as we have served in ministry, not everyone was nice, including me.
I’ll spare the details, but a woman hurt me very deeply in one of our pastorates. She accused me of things that I did not do, and proceeded to spread the accusations. She contacted church leaders, friends and probably even God! In front of others, she told me what she thought of me. I was devastated.
During the season of hurt and disillusionment, I pulled away from the church emotionally, trying to breathe, and trying to survive. It was a difficult season, but God met me during that season and renewed me. The woman did not apologize, and even after God touched me, I still had to see her in the pew every week. (Maybe it’s called a “pew” because God’s people can stink some things up!)
Over time, I was able to become stronger in God, and know that the storms created by people in the Church were not going to kill me. They would hurt, but not kill me. I learned that there is a safe place in God. I learned to be careful not to pull away from God because of what people did. God did not hurt me. One of His children did. It’s easy to get the two mixed up. It’s easy to lose sight of the One we serve, the One we love and the One who loves us.
Many, many years later, while speaking in a city, my path crossed with that woman. As she came up to me, I was braced for another tongue-lashing. Instead a beautiful spirit of repentance and sorrow came from her. Now, I could have rehashed all she had done to me and my reputation, but that would do no good. We hugged. We teared up. We walked away in total forgiveness, continuing to grow and serve God.
Are you in a season of hurt? God sees. Does it seem like the person is getting away with it? God sees.
It’s easy to want God to punish the person, who has hurt us, but it is necessary to give God the time to work in people. He can change a person. I cannot. He is doing a work beyond my natural vision.
Thank God that He doesn’t hit us with a bolt of lightning every time we do something foolish. Otherwise, I would not be writing this, and you would not be reading it!
Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that will pardon and cleanse within;
Grace, grace, God’s grace, Grace that is greater than all our sin!
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” – Philippians 2:13