A restoration story: Part 4

March 15, 2007 at 10:51 pm 3 comments

This story is my story.  As you read it please understand I am well aware there are other sides to it but I do not know those sides.  Those are someone else’s story to tell.  What follows is mine and if I have gotten it wrong I am solely responsible for it. 

Part 4-Rejection and trust.

When people in positions of trust and authority fail, especially if they are in spiritual leadership, strange things happen.  Relationships get strained or broken, and people make all kinds of choices and decisions related to the person who has failed, and often they get made in the midst of hurt and anger. 

Trust is built in all kinds of ways and it is destroyed in all kinds of ways.  When my failure was exposed, the leadership of the church where I had been in pastoral leadership for more than 16 years decided, for whatever reason(s), they could not or chose to not care for me and my family.  The men who had capably and graciously cared for us for all those years were suddenly not there for counsel, provision, or encouragement, with none of the support we had come to expect and appreciate.

What I had done caused them to turn from being for me to being against me.  Again, for reasons that I do not understand, they chose to literally excommunicate my wife–telling her (and me as well) we were not to come to church.  To this day we have not been invited to return to the church.

Our income was cut off (because some said “they didn’t want any of their money going to them”) and Linda was given no support of any kind from any leader of the church.  For the first time in our lives we were utterly alone.

The institution that I had entrusted myself to for all of my life, when offended by my actions, determined to protect itself from this sinner by cutting us off from the covering and love just at the time when we needed it the most.

If you are reading between the lines, as I know some are prone to do, let me assure you that this is no attempt to side step or downplay my actions.  What I did was wrong, on a whole lot of levels, and of course it required some kind of censure.  I held a position of high calling and I had failed to uphold my end of that calling.  My actions were devastating to these men and there is no question that I needed to step aside while they got a handle on the extent of the fracture and what was required to contain the effect on the Family.

I knew that anger, fear, and mistrust would rule for a period of time, but I was totally unprepared for the excomunication and abandonment that was to take place, especially for Linda, a Godly woman, who was totally innocent and wounded more deeply than anyone.

Uncompromising trust in the love of God inspires us to thank God for the spiritual darkness that envelops us, for the loss of income, for the nagging arthritis that is so painful, and to pray form the heart, “Abba, into your hands I entrust my body, mind, and spirit and this entire day–morning, afternoon, evening and night”.  Whatever you want of me, I want of me, falling into you and trusting in you in the midst of my life.  Into your heart I entrust my heart, feeble, distracted, insecure, uncertain.  “Abba, unto you I abandon myself in Jesus our Lord, Amen”. (Ruthless Trust-Brennan Manning)

There was nothing else we could do but trust that God would care for us.

It may be hard for some of you to understand, but as a pastor and a pastor’s family every one in your support system is either a leader or a staff person or a member of the congregation, so when that covering is gone, literally over night, it was a very frightening time.

During this dark, fearful and lonely time the Father revealed Himself to us by showing He could be trusted to care for us when the institution we had given our lives to could no longer be trusted.  We were soon to learn how God works during times like this.  We discovered that when those entrusted with our care and covering failed to live up to that calling, for reasons that only they know, out of His deep love and care for lost sheep the Father would provide for us angels of mercy from outside the circle of covering we were in to lift us up and cover us.

It was in that provision of care for Linda, for me and for our family that we would learn that Abba is absolutely trustworthy.  I want to mention a few of the angels the Father sent to us:

  • A small group we were part of chose to stand with us.  We will never forget the love and care they gave without reservation.  Tuesday nights were something special during some bleak days.
  • One man, on the fringes of my life, emailed me to say he was available for whatever we needed.  That invitation, more than any other has served to hold us up in countless ways over the last 18 months. For his efforts, he was shunned by the church, rejected by men he thought were his friends, simply because he believed that I deserved the same grace and restorative process anyone should be given.  He has stood with us and taken rocks meant for us.  Without this man I wonder where we would be today.
  • A Christian counselor who came along during the first week with the assurance that healing and wholeness would come again, even when we could not see it or believe it.  This man tried to mediate the fracture between our family and the church and for his efforts was treated in ways a man of his professional stature should never have been. He has cared for us for 18 months, never condoning or excusing but always pointing the way to health and healing.
  • A seminary president, a denominational leader, a mission executive, the pastor of a large church in a city not far from us, local pastors, individuals from local churches, bull riders, cowboy pastors and many others, went out of their way to tell us that they loved us and stood ready to help in any way they could.
  • Most importantly, our children and their spouses, hurt and disappointed by their father’s failure, chose to forgive and to reestablish a relationship that is now deeper and richer than ever before.  Children who have taken direct hits from church leaders, told not to trust their father by church leaders, decided to honor their dad as they are called to do, in spite of attempts to dissuade them to not.

While I cannot minamize the pain and disappointment of the last 18 months I am so thankful that the Father has used what was intended by the enemy for evil as a way to deepen and strengthen my trust in Him. 

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Entry filed under: Christianity, Church, Culture, Faith, Friendship, Jesus, Thoughts.

A restoration story: Part 3 A restoration story: Part 5

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Melonie C  |  March 18, 2007 at 10:40 pm

    Greg and Linda,

    I finally visited you blog (Linda gave me the address). Thank God for his renewal of mercy every morning!! He is in the business of restoration! Greg, I have shared with Linda about our church past and the hurts that have come and gone. We understand rejection in a very big way. Unfortunately Christians can be some of the most condemning people. I used to be one of them before we were condemned. God has a way of turning the most undesirable situation into good. We learned a lot about ourselves, our relationship with the Father, who we really were in him, and his great love for us through these trials. It was very hurtful at the time, but now I can see how much he used it for our growth.

    I think we Christians often forget we are all capable of sin and are in need of God’s grace. I have experienced on my own that sin not dealt with will affect anything we do in the future; judge not lest you be judged.

    It was several years before I felt I could forgive the people that had hurt me so deeply. In the meantime, God was gracious to me and was patient with me because he loves me. I realized that he would deal with them; they would probably have to experience some of the same hard things I had to to grow in Christ. God isn’t done with me yet. I’m sure there is a lot of purification left to do in me, but I know his Spirit is working in me and will reveal my shortcomings to me as I go. Hopefully, I will respond to him a little quicker next time.

    We extend the hand of fellowship and restoration to you and your family despite what the church body has chosen. We love you and are continuing to pray for your family. God is continuing and will continue to use you according to His purpose

    Love you all.

  • 2. johnzwart  |  March 16, 2007 at 10:28 am

    Dear Greg and Linda,
    I am writing as someone who has never met you, and doesn’t really know you other than through this blog which I happened to stumble across earlier this month. A fortuitous stumble, I think, as it has led me to a regular visit with you and your musings. Certainly, there is much that I appreciate in what I am reading. A lot of it resonates with me – the hurt at being unfairly treated (I have had that happen as well, though it was in business, not in the church, and not because of any dramatic ethical failure on my part), the pain of a sudden loss of a son (my younger brother passed away suddenly from a tragic fall as well in August 1995), the desire to serve God and be a blessing to others in that service (this is my desire as well), and the beauty of seeing His guidance and comfort revealed in the most unlikely places (I think he must take special delight in surprising us in ways that take our breath away. And perhaps there is something truly uplifting for us as well when we share these surprises with others in those moments when we have managed to catch breath again).
    I pray that you may continue to be caught off guard by the breathless wonder and blessed goodness of our Lord and Saviour. And in moments between, when you have caught your breath, my prayer is that you may be wise in the way you share your wonder. I also pray for continued healing of the hurt; and a complete restoration of relationships for all those involved. This last prayer may seem unrealistic, I know. But in Christ all things are possible. And who are we to doubt the possibilities when He is in the driver’s seat?
    Blessings,

  • 3. ANONYMOUSLY POSTED.  |  March 15, 2007 at 11:41 pm

    Ephesians 6:23-24 says (in The Message):
    23-24Good-bye, friends. Love mixed with faith be yours from God the Father and from the Master, Jesus Christ. Pure grace and nothing but grace be with all who love our Master, Jesus Christ.

    This has been my prayer since God has laid this promise for you on my heart. I believe that Paul’s closing remarks to this letter about human relationships, walking as Christ, take a higher priority than “process or institutional procedures”. Including but not limited to: spiritual releases, excommunication, judging whether a man or woman’s act of repentance is valid or not, approval of confessions, monitoring degrees of repentance, keeping records of past sins, etc.

    May God speak this promise to you and your family, even if those in church leadership membership do not, by word or deed.

    Blessings on you and yours.

    Praise God for His immutable promise to Forgive, Redeem, Restore, Heal, Save, Renew, and Regenerate all who love our Master Jesus Christ [you], Presently, Continually, Faithfully, Eternally, and Completely.

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