A little history on us: We moved to north Texas in Jan. of 2001 where my husband began pastoring his first church, First Baptist Church of Anna, TX. That place was a MESS! It was a deacon run church, and as far as modern day organized religion, it was baptism by fire, no doubt. There were threats made to Robert that he would need to do things the way they wanted them done or he would be out. Robert, committed to doing things God's way (a whole new concept to some), continued to follow God. We were attacked in ways you would not believe. It all finally culminated in a "meeting" in which long time voting members (many of whom we had never met or seen) tried to vote Robert out. However, Robert resigned. One of the accusations raised against him was that he knew the Bible too well and always referred to it, which would then end all discussion. We lived in a parsonage at the time and had literally 3 days to find another place to live.
God, of course, who is so faithful brought us through all of it. And, as Joseph could say to his brothers, what they intended for harm, God intended for good. It is beautiful that God glorifies Himself in all things . . . no matter the motives . . . no matter if it is good, bad or ugly. His glorification is sometimes immediate . . . sometimes delayed. But make no mistake: God is ultimately glorified through all of it. My favorite phrase in all of life is this: “God is God and we are not.” Only He could take something so awful and turn it into something so good.
God confirmed to us that He wanted us to stay in Anna, TX (much to our displeasure, of course). But God has accomplished great things here. Robert started Pin Oaks Christian Fellowship in 2002. It is a spiritually vibrant, healthy church. It's success is in no way credited to Robert . . . but to God, who has allowed us to be a part of it. Once again, He is God and we are not.
On our side of things, we had to choose to forgive and to not be bitter. Bitterness paralyzes. It infects our thinking. It breeds hate and resentment . . . things that are opposite of who God is. And the choice to not be bitter, to forgive rather than resent, was more than a choice. It was a process; and a difficult one at that. Forgiving enemies who would never seek forgiveness is not an act of the human heart. Only God can accomplish this, and He has. There is no trace of bitterness in my heart. In fact, I think that if there were bitterness in either one of us, God would not have called us to "go" for Him. All praise to Him again . . . He is God and we are not!
I struggle sometimes with God's calling us to full time mission work. The timing of it (when things here are growing and so good), and then just the uncertainties of living in a whole other culture away from so many that we love so much. But it is a step of faith that God has asked us to take and so we are taking it. And based on who He is and His faithfulness, my questioning of it loses all potency. Sometimes I do feel a little “Gideon”esque (a great man of God, by the way) . . . I keep wanting to put the wool out to get affirmation of what God's wanting us to do. He's already confirmed it to both of us. I guess it's just the emotional side of going so far away from family and people we love and causing them hardship as well in our leaving. Please pray for me in my weakness.
The awesome part of it all . . . He's allowing us to be part of something else that He is doing. We don't know what it is exactly; we don't know what degree of sacrifice might be involved. But He is God and we are not. He is the author and finisher of our faith. It is our job to know Him and to follow; and then to relish in the privilege it is to be His possession.