Dear Brothers & Sisters,
I was saved here 12 years ago now. Somehow it seems like both yesterday and an eternity ago. I spent longer than I should have on the fringes learning slowly on my own until some ladies drew me in and discipled me. Well.
Mini Hubby was a baby when I remember asking them what it takes to become a member of the church. And one wise woman told me, “Well, it’s not like a country club membership. There’s a class to complete to become a Covenant Member so you understand what you’re committing to. You know that a covenant means a promise. And we use the term ‘member’ as part of the body. So, you’re making a commitment to the church body. Like a marriage!”. And, since I was in a marriage, I thought maybe I wasn’t ready for that kind of commitment. I mean, I barely knew most of you and I had heard some terrible things about arranged marriages.
So, I settled on a different step in my faith journey. We dedicated all three of the children. I had come to believe my God trustworthy and understood that they were, indeed, a gift from Him and acknowledged that they belonged to Him. But you. You that I did not know well. You committed to help us raise them in a Christian home. To encourage and support us as we modeled for them (imperfectly) what it is to follow Christ in the hope that they would someday follow Him themselves.
And then, you crazy beautiful hands and feet of Christ actually did it. The kids got sick, our hearts and finances were decimated and you stepped into the mess. You, who I had smiled at in the lobby, rushed to my house to pray with me. You, who had greeted me at the door, pursued me to check on our financial needs. You, that I’d never met, brought meals on procedure days. Dozens of you showed up, worked hard and gave generously to help with fundraisers. You gently and persistently nagged me into attending a retreat that the Lord used powerfully to draw me to Himself and give me elusive peace. You texted with me at all hours of the day and night, wept with me, prayed with me and showed me, and my family, Jesus. In hundreds of ways. Over and over, you helped lift my weary arms and stayed with me through the battles of “worse”, “poorer” and “sickness”. And you didn’t just show me, the Lord used you to show an entire community what it looks like to love like Jesus. And I absolutely believe that you helped me to honor Him in it all.
So, I put a ring on it. I fell head over heels for you that aren’t phased by the mess. You, that step in and step up and obediently give of yourself and your time to something bigger than yourself. Not only our pastor. Not only our elders. Not only our staff. But I committed to all of you precious children of God. And just as in marriage, over time, I’ve seen your bad sides. You’ve annoyed me, disappointed me and frustrated me. You’ve pushed me by your very sinfulness closer to Jesus. In turn, I’ve annoyed, frustrated and fallen short for you. I’ve sinned against you. And if I’m unaware of it, I’ll ask your forgiveness now. But, as iron sharpens iron, I believe us to be better for it. I know I am.
Now, we’ve entered a season as a church body that feels an awful lot like “worse” and “sickness”. And I can tell you I’ll be disappointed if you don’t enter in. I’ll still love you. But I won’t understand. Because you taught me differently. So you have only your less weary selves to blame. If you haven’t been here, your church body has felt your absence and if you weren’t here in the future we’d feel it too.
I absolutely believe that if this Faith Family unites again, truly humbles ourselves in prayer and persistently seeks the Lord’s will, God will use us powerfully again to show our community what it looks like to love like Jesus. After all, this is His church and He loves it more than any of us.
That’s it. Thank you for loving me like Christ. I love you all dearly.