Out of Egypt
Psalm 136:16-To Him who led His people through the wilderness, For His lovingkindness is everlasting…
Two years ago I entered my desert place. After spending eight years in a church I loved, I had to leave. A situation had come about in which I had a dispute with some ministry leaders. I made my concerns known, but it wasn’t received well. I was told my concerns were unfounded. They were not, as others had the same concerns. After a harsh voice message was left on my phone, I did not go to church for four weeks.
Eventually my pastor called. There was no “Are you okay? We haven’t seen you in a while.” What I did get was “I suppose you know why I am calling.” We spoke for about an hour. I did agree to a meeting, and I mentioned Matthew 18 principles.
Matthew 18:15 “If your brother or sister sins, go and point out their fault, just between the two of you. If they listen to you, you have won them over. 16 But if they will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses’.
It was made clear I was not allowed to bring in my own witnesses, and he claimed he had heard nothing from anyone else regarding the concerns. It was going to come down to the pastor, them and me; but after much prayer and counsel from others, I decided that it was not in my best interest to go. It would have been them against me. Knowing how others had been treated in that church, I knew that not returning was my best option. With great sadness, I left that church. Unfortunately, I lost contact with some friends. Was I shunned? I don’t really know, but it certainly felt that way.
Leaving that church was devastating to me. I was active in a recovery ministry, sang in the choir, and attended almost every event at the church. Later I would learn that leaving was so devastating to me because my identity was wrapped up in that church, and not in Jesus.
For a long time, I did think I was wrong about what happened. Maybe all these other people were right and I was wrong, so I started doing research about similar issues in churches. I discovered I was not alone in dealing with something like this. I learned a lot about authoritarian churches, holier than thou pastors, and that being a woman can automatically make you deceived, emotional, and unable to hear God correctly according to some pastors and christians. However, God would eventually show me things that would clear up many, many lies and misconceptions that I had been taught throughout my years as a Christian. Some of it was painful, but I know now it was also necessary.
My prayer is that you continue reading this series, and at the end of the series, you will see how God orchestrated every step, and how He is beginning to restore the years of what the locusts have eaten. Stayed tuned for the next post.