Those of you who know me well at all know that the spiritual journey that my wife and I have traveled over the past few years has not been an easy one. The story includes hurt at the hands of the children of God, disappointment in those in leadership, and general disillusionment with the American church as a whole. If you really want to know the whole sordid tale, you can always read about it here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
Back in May, my bride and I took the girls to visit another church. Miranda actually posted that day, and her words pretty much summed up the experience. Two weeks later, she really poured her heart out.
That first Sunday, the pastor spoke about bitterness in relationships. I realized something that morning, and I shared it with Miranda that afternoon. The fact is I am a forgiving person by my very nature. I am not bragging or anything – it is simply the way I am wired. Bragging about it would make as much sense as bragging about my having blue eyes… I never chose to be a forgiving person, God just made me that way. I am not one to harbor resentment toward a person. That Sunday, I realized that I had grown very bitter with the church as a whole. I had been repeatedly hurt by the church,and I was sick and tired of dealing with it. I have proven myself adept at forgiving people, but how the heck was I supposed to forgive the church as a whole?
As I shared all of this with my bride, she listened patiently before responding. “You know, if God used Jack to show you all of this, maybe Jack is the one that you need to talk to about it. Why don’t you call him?” I agreed it was a good idea, but I wasn’t really gung-ho about it.
It turned out that I didn’t have to be. The next night, Jack called me. (I guess that is what I deserved for filling out a visitor’s card, huh?) We ended up getting together for breakfast, and he listened to me as I poured out my heart, my hurt, my frustrations. Rather than critically point out my obvious flaws and shortcomings, he just befriended me. That first breakfast, Jack told me, “You know what I think you need? I think you just need to go to a place where you can be loved… where you and your family can just have a positive experience in church for a change. I would love for our church to be that place, and maybe it can be. If it can’t be, maybe I can help you find it.”
That first breakfast lead to another, and each Sunday, my family kept going back to that church. It has turned into weekly thing now, and Monday mornings are one of my favorite times of the week because I get to have breakfast with my friend.
This past Sunday, we bit the bullet. Six months ago, I was almost ready to blow off the institutionalized American church for keeps. I had had enough, but Jack was right. We needed a place where we could have a positive experience, and we found it.