I had lunch with a colleague today. He and I went through a very difficult phase in our (separate) ministries in previous churches, during the same period of time. We are both marked by the difficulties we faced and the wounds we incurred.
What is amazing is that we are both in much happier phases of ministry now. God is healing our wounds and showing us what we learned through those difficult times. As we talked, my colleague, who is notably stoic and unemotional, said to me “I’m in danger of loving these people.” Now for your average Joe, that might not sound like a grand declaration. But for this particular colleague of mine, it is pretty close to gushing about the congregation he now serves.
I remember keeping this promise of God in my mind during the long months of that difficult phase:
“For I know the plans I have for you,” says the Lord.
“They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.”
Jeremiah 29:11 NLT
I would tell myself this over and over again. Sometimes I would look in the mirror and say “Rebekah, you know you serve a God who loves you more than you deserve. He has promised you a better day. It is coming. You have to get through this time to get to that time.”
Today as I sat outside with my friend enjoying some good food and good conversation, I realized that the better day is HERE and NOW. Despite whatever bumps in the road come (and trust me, they come all the time), I love the people that make up the congregation where I serve. And there is nothing like love to make a situation good.