Two years of unemployment was over,
but not in the way we had hoped
It wasn’t long before our two years of unemployment had passed. The turn downs had taken their toll. All the doors we had knocked on and today almost 40 years later, I can’t remember how many there were over the 2 years, all closed down. If that wasn’t the last one, it was almost the last.
We gave up looking in the new denomination and stayed in the denomination we were in and took a church that had been open. We were challenged that this would give him the chance to show he could do pastoral ministry in a local church in the US. This church wanted and needed us. So we moved to Hollywood, FL where housing was cheaper, found a school for our kids and settled in.
It was just over the county line from the church which was in North Miami Beach. We served that little church for two years. Ron had seniority in the presbytery since he had been there since he got out of seminary and toward the end of the two years, he became chairman of the committee to help a larger church leaving the denomination.
It is a longish story I won’t go into here, but in the process of working with that presbytery’s side of helping this church make this move in a legal, orderly, process from the one side and working together with the new denomination and those who were doing the same from that side, he found himself enjoying and finding fulfillment in working with all these people, dealing with difficulties and problems that came up and helping people who were dissatisfied. He also had quite a variety of people to deal with on his committee.
Months later, the work was done. The church had made their move smoothly to the new denomination. A few weeks after all the “i’s” were dotted and the “t’s” were crossed, Ron got a phone call. The pastor of the church now in the new denomination was asking him to be on their church staff. We were both shocked. It was the denonomination we knew we fit with much better over the long haul.
There had been no discussion of anything like this when he was working on the committe. We were amazed. When we least expected it, GOD arranged a way for us to get into the newer denomination in a funky way.
We knew GOD wanted us here, the timing was just off
We weren’t wrong in thinking GOD wanted us there. It’s just that our timing was off! The story GOD writes in our lives is always funkier than the neat stories we would like to write!
So that is how we ended up at Old Cutler Presbyterian Church two years after we started in North Miami Beach…just in time for school to start…in 1981…I think! His title was Minister of Spiritual Growth.
And that is only a piece of the story GOD wrote in our lives. And by the way, for anyone who thinks that being a pastor is glamorous? It is just not true!
It is full of experiences that will be both humbling and humiliating; joyful, sad, full of grief and hurt, and unimaginably fulfilling and encouraging. It is a lot like life. There are highs for sure, but not nearly as many as it seems there might be…at least for the ordinary, regular pastors out there.
Watching the story of GOD’s grace play out in the lives of the people of GOD…the Church!
We have an opportunity to watch close up as GOD works in the lives of people. We hear more of their stories and in more detail than many do. Because we hear the backstory, we are often more aware of the amazing changes GOD has brought into the lives of people that we have grown to love.
When I walk into church, I don’t see a bunch of perfect people. I see people who may be cleaned up for Sunday, but I see a bunch of people with the story of GOD’s grace at work in their lives, just as He is in mine. Not a one of us is perfect. We are all broken. The ones I know, know about some of my brokenness. I know of some of theirs. We have learned to love and accept each other in Christ…and worship Him together.
I love the Church. For all her flaws, I love her. I am a microcosm of her to the world. She is a microcosm of Christ. At some point, we will all fail in the ways we portray Christ, but that is who we are there to show. Instead of criticizing each other, we need to work together to show the world Jesus... realizing that it won’t happen perfectly. But we need to give grace to each other to let it happen!
How have you seen GOD’s grace at work in the story He is writing in your life?
Have you come to love the Church with all her warts, as Christ loves the Church?