I am a pack rat. My church staff is trying to go paperless. I just bought a new file cabinet to make room for all the various files I keep. Some are decades old.
Not long ago, I found a filed article entitled, “What’s Really Going On?” I won’t mention the name of the author. And you wouldn’t know her if I did. But this article helped save my ministry.
It was the early 1990s. And I was getting beat up pretty bad in a church fight. Actually, it wasn’t a fight – it takes two to fight. It was a straight beat-down. I couldn’t fight back. I didn’t know how. I just rolled with the punches, waiting for it to be over. And I was pretty sure it would end with me getting put out.
I had committed the new pastor’s unforgivable sin. I believed I was actually the pastor!
When I disrupted the status quo, the wrath of longtime members came raining down. It did not matter that I was fresh out of my teens. It did not matter that I was the son of the late, longtime pastor. It did not matter that some of the people fighting me helped raise me. This was their church. And they were going to take it back.
Things were said and done during those months that should never take place in a church. I tried not to respond. But it wasn’t easy. Many times I went to my pastor’s office to vent to him. And when I would ask how to respond, he would quote the first verse of Psalm 39 to me and tell me to be quiet. In the process, my enemies shaped the story. And I suffered under the weight of the lies that were told about me.
For the record, the members supported me. The ruckus was caused by a small group of people who held strategic positions. And the membership did not know how to respond to all that was going on. Neither did I.
But one Sunday, someone brought me an article that was being passed out. I did not want to see it. But the person insisted that I did. It was several pages long. And it chronicled the behind-the-scenes events truthfully, including things very few people were privy to. In many ways, it vindicated me, addressing matters I could not address.
Of course, the document surprised me. But I was even more surprised by the author than the content. The person who wrote the article (which actually became a series of articles) was very close to the people opposing me. She was the last person I thought who would stand by my side. But, as she wrote, right is right and wrong is wrong.
She never stopped loving those on the other side that she had deep and close ties to. And she never stopped loving me for all the years I remained her pastor.
Seeing that article again recently reminded me that if you just stay on assignment, the Lord will raise up people to fight for you. The odds may be against you. And it may seem that no one is on your side. But the Lord will send you friends just when you need it. Many times the most unlikely person will be a postcard from heaven by which God announces that he has not forgotten about you.
What challenge are you facing?
Stay on mission. Be faithful. Trust God. Love people. And don’t take matters into your own hands. The Lord can and will help you through the challenge, even if he shows up through a sister with a typewriter and a story to tell about what’s really going on!