I was seventeen the day I watched in horror as the elderly congregation member with stern hair and thick glasses waggled her knobbly finger in my dad's face and told him he had been sent from the devil to destroy our church. My church. The church I grew up in.
After nine and a half years of putting his heart and soul into pastoring that little congregation, and because of what God was teaching him at the time, Dad could not bear up under the weight of that woman's hatred. He resigned.
Her comment was, of course, only the final straw. There had been other straws. There had been entire hay bales. Fifteen years later, it seems totally superfluous to cast blame. Who was wrong? Who was right? Who said what? Who misunderstood what was said? Who felt hurt? Who hurt them? Only God can sort it all out.
And guess what? He did. Sort it all out, I mean.
It's not often I see a period of horrific pain and desolation come completely full circle and result in total forgiveness, joy, and unconditional love. But earlier this month, during my emergency visit to see my parents, I was given a completely rare and miraculous glimpse of just that.
You see, a few months ago, after a fifteen year absence, my parents once again began attending the church I grew up in. They were welcomed so completely right from the start that by the time I showed up during the whole heart attack thingy, they'd already become members. Members of a family God had spent fifteen years counseling in the way of grace.
I cannot express to you what a miracle this is. I went to church with my parents while I was there, and I saw firsthand the growth and healing, the forgiveness and joy, the acceptance and unconditional love extended not just to my parents, but to me.
I've struggled for weeks to write this blog post because it seems so horribly and ridiculously flat to put this into words. I am in total awe of God's power to heal, and I cannot hope to adequately express that to you.
But I've also been given a new perspective on my current circumstances. The life-changing events of fifteen years ago sent me straight down to the dungeon of cynicism, where I wallowed for many years. I viewed churches like many victimized women view men. Not to be trusted. Every church I've attended for the past fifteen years, I've held completely at arm's length, simply waiting for the day it would all come crashing down and they'd turn on me.
And I've not been wrong. Each church has, shockingly enough, turned out to be peopled with humans. Flawed humans. Even the church I, with hope, have poured my heart and soul into for these past five and half years, is chock full of humans. One of whom is me.
Recently, I experienced "a final straw". Not the only straw. Not even the only hay bale. To me, it doesn't quite seem entirely superfluous yet to attempt to cast blame. I still want to figure out who was wrong, who was right, who said what, who misunderstood what was said, who felt hurt, and who hurt them. Can I possibly hope to sort it all out?
But God can.
And guess what? He will. Sort it all out, I mean. Someday, even if it takes fifteen years, even if it takes twenty-five years, even if it takes heaven, this period of horrific pain and desolation will come completely full circle and result in total forgiveness, joy, and unconditional love. And God will once again demonstrate His power to heal.
How do I know?
Because I've seen Him do it before. And because God is not human. He is not flawed. Therefore, I can trust Him with my pain. I can trust Him with my life. I can trust Him with my future. I can trust Him to heal my wounds.
Time heal all wounds? Hardly. But for the wounds time cannot hope to mend, there is God, my Abba Father. And my broken spirit is seated in His lap.