Eight years ago, over a period of 6 to 8 months, our church suffered subtle, subversive attacks from multiple angles and agents. It wasn’t the first time and as long as God tarries His return, I’m sure it won’t be the last. But this one was different from the others before it. It literally paralyzed me as a pastor – I had a stroke on stage in the middle of a sermon. My confidence in God’s calling on my life had been weakened. I blamed myself for giving the enemy ground on my watch as the shepherd…and there was certainly some responsibility on my part that I’ve had to deal with. My confidence in God’s voice of direction for our church was shattered. I was unsure about nearly everything. I trusted very few but my own family as the blows of the enemy kept coming.
It decimated our church…we were crippled and curled up in a corner, wondering if we’d ever survive the slaughter. We barely functioned through our numbness and paralysis. After a couple years of that, the Spirit got us to our feet, cleaned us up and we began to see and feel movement again. He slowly nursed us back to health. That took another five years…we were so thankful to still be alive but you could tell, our people were nervous and scared to open up, timid to trust and yet tired of hurting. Sooooo many walls up. Then came a worldwide pandemic…and instead of letting us retreat into fear, panic, obscurity and seclusion, God opened the floodgates of mercy, grace and blessing upon us…He opened our hearts and our minds. He taught us that He’d given us much through years of spiritual, emotional and physical healing and it was time to share that with others who had been battered, abused and led astray.
We’ve just passed a milestone – 22 years since my little family gathered with 3 or 4 other little families for the very first service of Crossroads Church here in Grain Valley, MO. I’m thankful for all of them. I’m thankful for each person whom God used to help us get started, to strengthen our foundation, to serve and love the many who have come through our doors. I’m thankful for those who stayed a short time. I’m thankful for those who have been enduring partners for many, many years. We’ve had heroes who have walked these halls and left an incredible legacy upon our hearts. I’m thankful for each one whom God has used to strengthen my family, those who have poured into us, nurtured us, cared for us, encouraged us and loved us as their Pastor and family. I’m thankful for new life, new family members, fresh vision and spirit of cooperation.
I’m thankful for the challenges and attacks that came in the form of both people and circumstances beyond our control – things that the enemy intended for evil against God, but God meant it for good. We are HIS church…HIS bride. He strengthened us through adversity. He chiseled us through attacks. He tried us through fire. He healed us for His glory and the good of His people. He has released us from the bondage of the past by reminding us of our future.
Odd as it may sound and tragic as it may have been for many, I thank God for this pandemic…for what it has taught us about Him, about His Word, about His Church, and about His Plan. I thank God that for some reason and in His infinite wisdom He has seemingly released us from 10 years of wandering in a cloudy, sometimes dark and frustrating wilderness, knowing that He has never left us nor forsaken us.
To God Be the Glory – #solideogloria
Blessed are you, Lord our God, King of the Universe, Who has sanctified us by Your commandments, Who has cleansed us by the blood of Your Son Jesus Christ, Who anoints us with Your Holy Spirit, and Who has kept us alive and preserved us for Your glory and Your purpose. May we never be the same again.