This past week was one of the most difficult that my husband and I have experienced in nearly 24 years of marriage. My husband has compared it to the night he walked into his parents’ home and found his father with a self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head. If you know my husband, you know there’s not a dramatic bone in his body to make him just say something like that. He can be an impatient man at times, but when it comes to major issues, he’s not the type to make knee-jerk decisions. I’ve literally waited years for him to make some decisions, and as difficult as it was to be a trusting wife in those times, I can’t think of a time when his delays led us astray.
This time the decision was to find a new church home. I know such a decision might not be a big deal to some people, but it was for us. When we joined our (now former) church we vowed to support the church, its leaders, and its members. (Some have compared these membership vows to marriage, but I’m pretty sure that the Bible doesn’t make that comparison.) Still, I firmly believe that church membership is a good thing, especially in an age when it’s easy and acceptable to hop around from church to church, completely avoiding accountability and commitment. It should hurt to leave a church, and believe me, it does – even when you’re fully confident it is the best thing to do for your family.
We knew that there would be those who would not understand our decision. This was confirmed in an email message we received from a church member. Though the message expressed love for us, it was also filled with anger and false accusations against us and others. It included baseless assumptions about our background and thought processes. Even though having the truth on your side helps you to be more compassionate toward the offending party, I still found myself wanting to respond somehow. I had a desire to find words – a good quote or something – to counteract the difficult words I had just taken in. I started to reach for a book by one of my favorite authors. Then, I caught myself mid-reach, thinking, “God, I should be reaching for Your Word right now. ” So, I took down my Bible and opened it to begin my search. I’m not a “place-your-finger-on-a-verse-and-that’s-your-message-from-God” kind of person, but these were the first words my eyes fell upon: