The sun sifted through the treetops, filtering its way through the new buds of leaves visible on slender branches. I walked the familiar trail, enjoying clean spring air. This walk is impressive during each season, swaying from green leaves and bright flowers to dazzling autumn splendor, from brown leaves crunching to the soft whispers of snow.
While looking upward at these enduring giants, whose limbs hang over the stillness of the pond, I tripped.
Catching myself, I glanced down at the worn path, where a massive root twisted its way along the trail, mostly embedded beneath the dirt, but occasionally rearing. My foot had tangled in it, causing me to stumble, but of course doing no harm to the tree itself. It is a behemoth of a beauty, which based on stature and breadth, is ancient. Old and anchored to this impressive patch of land.
I grew up watching our congregation receive the bread and wine on the first Sunday of each month. Our pastor grasped a freshly baked loaf of bread, each end wrapped in a white cloth napkin. He ripped the loaf in half, and careful to cradle each end in cloth, passed the broken halves to both sides of the congregation. Up and down the pews, each person tearing a small piece before passing. And then:
Jesus said, Take, eat; this is my body which is broken for you; do this in remembrance of Me.
The rhythm of this unchanged Lord’s Supper, month by month, year by year, was a continual reminder of the broken body of Christ. The tearing of the loaf felt painful and beautiful; somber and hopeful.
One day, however, a church member grew offended. She and her husband had voiced their complaint over the lack of proper hygiene in the passing and plucking of the loaf, but to no avail. Nothing had changed in their favor, and growing incensed, they grabbed their marbles, plus a few other members, and marched to another church playground, never to return.
The seeds of division festered.
This world is full of many who are applauding each other for leaving their churches, taking a break, venturing to greener pastures, or staying home and nursing grievances. Everyone is offended at the injustices of this life, and sin in the body of Christ. While I am not condoning any sin, I ponder mostly the injustice done to Jesus, hanging nailed to the cross, the only perfect man and a perfect God. He died for the sins of his people, for his bride, the church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail (Matthew 16:18).
To those of you tempted to hop on this bandwagon named Departure, I ask you to please stay.
My husband is also my pastor, and most Sundays, after he preaches, and we walk to the back to greet people, I whisper: great message. And then we turn to converse with our congregation as they exit the sanctuary.
What I really mean by great message is this: Your words deeply offended me today. As you preached, I realized how often I sin, and then, as you read supporting Scriptures, my heart was pricked. I took notes and apologized to God, asking him to help me repent, obey, and delight in him. As I confessed, God softened my heart, and opened my ears to hear his truth. So although I might have stepped into the service worried about this, and annoyed by that, I have now spent an hour and a half upon the Great Surgeon’s operating table, and have become more overwhelmed with my own sin than I am with getting my own way.
Each one of us is prone to reverse this, swimming along the current of culture, feeling completely justified with our toddler approach of demanding our rights, and our way, and completely ignoring our sin.
I have discovered that there is only one thing destroyed by my repentance, and that is my pride.
Stay in your Bible preaching church with imperfect people, imperfect pastors and imperfect teachers. Stay and commit to hiding God’s word in your heart, reading and meditating every single day. Stay and humbly repent of your own sins. Stay and pray for others. Stay and serve. Stay and speak a kind word. Stay and confront a grievous sin. Stay and be confronted. Stay and forgive. Stay and encourage your pastor, who is often left alone to carry the weight of his calling and the weight of his flock. Stay and temper your complaints, placing them before the Almighty God in prayer before taking further action. Stay and put a hand on a discouraged shoulder, and in doing so encourage the entire church body to move towards unity. Stay and show forbearance and long-suffering; modeling commitment for your spouse, your children, and your grandchildren in the midst of this transient world. Stay and extend deference to the non-essential opinions of others. Stay and be the church without owning the church, because the church belongs to God.
Stay and be changed.
Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like the chaff that the wind drives away. (Psalm 1: 1-4 ESV)
15 thoughts on “Please Stay”
This is so incredibly needed right now. Beautifully written.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you, Andrea.
I love this! My husband is a pastor too. May the Lord bless you.
LikeLiked by 1 person
I have read your blog for a while and truly enjoy your writing. Your messages always point to a deeper truth, and your way of crafting a story is beautiful. Keep writing. The world is made sweeter by your words.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you for your kindness and for taking the time to read here!
I am staying the course!
Of course the church is meant to serve others, not to be a place to come to be served.
It is so fantastic how you worded the way we should constantly be pricked by what is taught, and we should always take an active part in being an encouraged and speaking truth in love with all we encounter.
Sometimes, I feel like I am resting too much when I should be actively sharing!
I feel restless and I pray that I do not want to place myself in a position where I am busy doing things that do not further God’s kingdom! It is, after all, only done through Him.
I love my church family; but sometimes I feel we do not dig down with our relationships and really share our deep burdens. God wants us to grow unified, but how can that be when we are not connecting on deeper levels!
These are good things to consider, Janice! I think biblical unity comes to fruition as we spear sin, truly repent, and pray for one another. 🙏🏻Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts and reading here.
Your writing is so refreshing and so reflective! It truly comes from a very centered ❤!
I look forward to more!
We truly do “have need of endurance”, as cited in Hebrews…. what a gift the church is to that end. Thank you for your encouragement. I am also a pastors wife, so I am not considering physically leaving the church 😉 however, there are times for sure I am tempted to “leave” if only in spirit and investment and love. Thanks for the reminder to keep walking forth in the obedience set before me, to walk the humble path of personal holiness, and allow God to refine me.
LikeLiked by 1 person
Thank you for your encouraging words….”tempted to leave if only in spirit and investment and love”…..you are right! There is more than one way to depart. Thank you for reading here at The Palest Ink.✨