I got two emails this morning that were incredibly encouraging as to how God works in people as they continue to learn to live loved. The journey can be ragged at time, especially in the early days. But as Father teaches us to live loved, it’s amazing what he can put behind us and the fresh pastures of life he leads us into. Enjoy these stories and know that God wants to shape his life in you, too.
The first is from a former pastor and his wife that went through a very difficult season that is not as uncommon as some might think:
My husband and I experienced the proverbial “boot” from the church he pastored three years ago. The issue interestingly, was that he taught everything from a foundation of grace. A handful of “reformed types” who saw that as dangerous, found a way to accuse him of something …. etc, etc … you know the story. Overnight, our whole family’s reputation was destroyed, and we were excommunicated.
I know you’ve heard these stories a thousand times. The point I want to make is that you and Brad have “accompanied” us on this amazing journey. You clearly articulate so many things that we believe and teach and live … yet haven’t always had a clear way to express. A few weeks back you spoke about your experience with your former church. You called it a dying. We looked at each other and smiled. That is exactly what we have called our experience. A painful but wonderful death to having a good reputation, a “fruitful” ministry, being liked by many, the ability to provide for our family, being understood and believed in, and so on. We have remained in our little town, where we are seen as unrepentant people who have done something horrible (but nobody really understands what it is), so we are to be excluded from “fellowship.”
Jesus has abundantly provided for us materially. But best of all, He is never satisfied with death. He has brought so much new life in the place of those things that have died… and that needed to die. These past three years have been one of the most significant gifts that Jesus has given us. As deeply painful as it has been, His nearness, tender care, and love have been deeper still. We are so very grateful.
The second is from someone who had been an active volunteer in a larger congregation and found God inviting them to a bit of a different journey:
e have been in a good place for a long time. We experience Father’s love and freedom and we are delightfully learning how to love the people he puts in front of us each day. That expands out to the neighbors we never knew because we were too busy running off to our big church where we were grossly overworked.
That freedom to love has also expanded out to the people we work with. People we used to see only as people that happen to work for the same company we see now as walking the same journey, just at different places in the journey. We enjoy meeting new people and discovering the treasure that is hidden of who they are and the unique way Father has gifted them, it is fun to dig in and get to know them and understand how they perceive their life’s journey so far and where they think it is going. We are just quietly living in freedom and loving it.
In the confines of religious obligation, freedom looks incredibly scary. But from those who walk away from its bondage and lies, I continue to hear of a full and free life ahead in spacious places. We were never meant to find our security in the structures or expectations of men, but in the gracious love of an incredible Father.