While my husband was in seminary, I would often daydream about being called to serve at a small country church once he graduated. I envisioned a New England white steepled church with a big oak tree out front and quaint graveyard in the back, a graveyard that marked the stories of those Believers who once sat in the church's pews many years before. I imagined the current congregation behind the doors of the New England white steepled church, loving the Word of God as much as I did, and accepting my husband and I, flawed sinners, saved by the Grace of God.
Indeed, soon after my husband graduated from seminary, a small local country church was looking for a new Pastor. It may not have been the quintessential New England white steepled church I had daydreamed about, but it had its own charm - the church building was housed in a converted dairy barn. The inside was bright and airy with lots of open space. I couldn't believe that for the most part what I had envisioned our future church home looking like was indeed a possibility...
I certainly know that the church isn't represented by a building, but by the body of Believers. That a building is not the focus of a church, but the Believers inside who show the love of Christ through service within and around the community and beyond, and who honor God through obedience and study of the Word. I also know that a church doesn't need a building to be called a church. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them. Matthew 18:20
But as a woman, by nature, I still had a desire for what my future church home would look like...
I remember sharing with my Pastor's wife who was mentoring me while my husband was in seminary, that I was feeling guilty for having such a specific esthetic idea of a church home. She encouraged me that it could be the Lord put that very desire upon my heart.
So as my husband was going farther in the interview process for the country church in the old dairy barn, I was becoming more and more excited at the prospect of serving there. Unfortunately, my enthusiasm may have actually clouded judgment in moving forward as several flags were raised to my husband on the spiritual health of the church. But we reasoned that my husband's strong love of the Word may be just why the Lord was calling Him to that particular church.
My husband served as Pastor at that church for just two years faithfully preaching and teaching the Word. The loving church family I had hoped for ended up wounding us deeply.
After much prayer, my husband and I made a decision to part ways from that body, a decision that was mutually agreed upon by the church leadership.
The country church I had dreamed of, the one that appeared so bright and airy on the inside, was for the most part dark and spiritually dead on the inside.
The Word of God, so faithfully preached by my husband, was dismissed.
A faction began working against my husband...
Now at Iconium they entered together into the Jewish synagogue and spoke in such a way that a great number of both Jews and Greeks believed. But the unbelieving Jews stirred up the Gentiles and poisoned their minds against the brothers. So they remained for a long time, speaking boldly for the Lord, who bore witness to the word of his grace, granting signs and wonders to be done by their hands. But the people of the city were divided; some sided with the Jews and some with the apostles. When an attempt was made by both Gentiles and Jews, with their rulers, to mistreat them and to stone them, they learned of it and fled to Lystra and Derbe, cities of Lycaonia, and to the surrounding country, and there they continued to preach the gospel.
We know that nothing touches us, except what comes from the loving hand of our Heavenly Father...
For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and
not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.
that the will of the Father may take us through fiery trials, but He is always right there with us...
Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If this be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of your hand, O king... Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished and rose up in haste. He declared to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” He answered and said, “But I see four men unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, and they are not hurt; and the appearance of the fourth is like a son of the gods.”
Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name, you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.
And we know that in all circumstances, God's will is accomplished...
The LORD of hosts has sworn saying, "Surely, just as I have intended so it has happened,
and just as I have planned so it will stand.
Peter and Paul did not become discouraged when their ministry in Iconium was being undermined by the unbelieving Jews, and the threat of being stoned loomed large. Instead, they fled to Lystra and Derbe and the surrounding country. And without missing a beat, continued to preach the Gospel.
I believe the Lord drops spiritual bombs in the midst of Believers to signify that It's time to move! Those spiritual bombs come in many forms, and I think more times than not, a trial may be the only way to get us to move.
We become complacent in our ministry or in our calling when things are going well, and may lose our effectiveness.
Or as a body, we become so comfortable in our church's walls, that we are no longer striving for the Kingdom of God.
The Lord may send a situation to disperse the complacent body of Believers or to move the person in ministry.
For my husband and I, although that was a very difficult chapter in our lives, especially being our very first experience serving as Pastor and Pastor's wife, in hindsight, I can see how the Lord was signaling, "It's time to move!"
My husband entered into a very fruitful pulpit fill ministry, a modern day circuit rider if you will. I was used by God in several women's ministries at the church we moved to, and not only did God use me, but He grew me in areas I never saw myself ministering in. He showed me that I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
As for the congregation we were called to leave, and which ultimately folded after going through another Pastor, I would like to believe that they are better off dispersed. I hope they are attending different churches from each other, thinking for themselves, and allowing the Word of God to penetrate their hearts. I also know that God's Word never comes back void and through the faithful preaching of my husband and the Pastor that followed him, seeds were planted. God can use the Pastors they are sitting under now to water those seeds and bring about the fruit of Salvation.
If you find yourself in a trial or at a crossroads, ask the Lord, "Is it time to move?"
I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go;
I will counsel you with my eye upon you.
And if after praying, you feel the Lord is indeed calling you to move, claim this promise from Him...
“Remember not the former things, nor consider the things of old. Behold,
I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it?
I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert.
The Bible is full of accounts of people the Lord signaled that "It's time to move!" - from Abram to the Apostles. With obedience, came blessings, not only in their lifetimes, but for future generations.
The Lord still shows us when, "It's time to move!".
It may not always be a physical move. It could be a spiritual move...
An area of besetting sin that we need to repent of; a relationship that needs healing; or a new spiritual discipline to develop, just to name a few...
Will you obey when the Lord calls you to move, whether it be spiritually or physically?
May we all respond...
Have thine own way, Lord! Have thine own way!
Thou art the potter, I am the clay.
Mold me and make me after thy will,
while I am waiting, yielded and still.
Adelaide A. Pollard
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