Huddled in a fetal position in the back corner of our bedroom, I shook with grief. The tears would not stop. Every shade in the house pulled shut, every door locked, and our phone was off the hook. Mike and Sarah were in California and would not be home for several days.
“God,” I cried, “What have I done? What have I done? If only I’d walked through that open door a year ago, and waited for You to lead us to another church, I wouldn’t be here now.” Guilt, regret, and shame pressed in heavy.
Would he come here when he couldn’t reach me by phone? My stomach was in knots, and my head throbbed with pain. Fear poised over me. I was afraid to move.
Over and over those words, “I am the one who gave you the prophetic mantle, and I am taking it off. You will never minister again.” At the moment, I believed every word, and they cut deep.
How did I get here? The months since the mountain trip were rocky at best. My unquestioning trust in the pastor’s prophetic words and decisions no longer held strong. In my mind, I questioned everything.
Many of the responsibilities I had carried before I turned over to others. The only key position I kept was the prophetic team. The congregation was in flux.
The pastor decided to move on and plant another group in a neighboring city. He turned his local position over to Harry, the pastor of the church who had merged with us in the previous year. Everything was a bit of a scramble with people trying to settle into new leadership and methods. However, one thing that remained constant was the prophetic team meetings at the global office. The pastor needed other prophetic voices to lead him in his mission to plant more churches.
It was at one of these team meetings that the unraveling started. It was customary for us to start with prayer and then each of us report on what we were seeing or hearing. We shared dreams and words etc. On this particular day, the pastor was absent. He didn’t show up. Forty-five minutes after the set time for the meeting, he called. “I’m not going to make it. Go ahead without me. We can meet on Monday and discuss bottom lines,” he said.
We went on with business as usual. Each of us started sharing. When the first one shared, every one of us came to attention. Shocked expressions registered on every face. God had given every one of us dreams or words about the same thing.
There was a common thread. Things were going on behind the scenes at the global office. God was not pleased. God showed each of us the same thing. He also gave us the same instructions. “Share with the pastor what I’ve given you. If the pastor refuses to listen, you are to leave the prophetic team.” (That was the gist of it, as I can remember.)
It was Friday, we wouldn’t be back in the office until Monday. We decided to pray over the weekend and follow through with the meeting on Monday.
I’ve never enjoyed confrontation. I knew the pastor was not likely to receive this word without an argument. He was a good man with a heart to do God’s will, but he, like us had his idea of how he wanted to operate.
He’d just told me the previous week that we were all at a crossroads. “It’s not going to be about personalities, likes or dislikes,” he said. “I’m going forward with my plan no matter what anyone says.”
I’d served as his secretary or assistant for nine years at this point. I knew he meant business, but it didn’t bring the peace of Holy Spirit. Instead, I saw red flags.
With the merging of the congregations, we gained several strong leaders. There were often tense times about procedures and methods. Questions about who was in charge were a point of contention. While I knew this, I heard something more in his proclamation. I heard an ultimatum. We either needed to agree with him, or not move forward with him in the mission he had in mind.
Well, as you might have guessed, the meeting on Monday was not pretty. God by His grace has removed the memory of much that was said and done that day. God’s counsel was not received, and each of us left the office knowing our part was over.
It would have been wise for me to go home and spend several days in prayer and fasting. But, wisdom was not ruling. I was an emotional mess. Plus, I knew Rachel and her husband had just moved to Colorado. They moved there to help the pastor start another congregation. In my protective ‘mother’ role, I felt they needed to know what had transpired.
When I got home, I called Rachel. She was shocked and upset. She’d been part of the prophetic team and knew some of the dynamics I discussed with her. I ended the conversation in tears and told her to pray.
Within an hour my phone rang. We didn’t have caller ID on our phone. If we did, I would not have answered. It was the pastor.
He was angry beyond words to express. While I’d seen him angry at others, I’d never been the target. Words, like fiery arrows, shot into my heart. All I could do was cry.
When I got off the phone, I was shaking from head to foot. I fell to the floor and sobbed. My mind raced with questions, but no answers came.
After a few minutes, I got up, pulled every shade and locked every door. I went to our bedroom, crumpled in a fetal position on the floor, and cried and cried.
When I was able to pull myself together some, I sat up and pressed my back into a corner with my knees pressed to my chin. I had to sort this out.
I don’t know how long I was in that corner. I knew I could not stay in the house by myself. So, I called Harry and told him what had happened. He and his wife invited me to come and spend the night with them, which I did.
I called Mike and told him where I would be and what happened. The details of that conversation don’t register any longer in my memory, but he was not happy.
When the debris field cleared from the explosion of personalities and decisions, I remembered something and started putting pieces together.
A month or so before, God gave me a dream about a re-training camp for veterans. I knew that those of us in leadership were part of the veterans in the dream. One of the things God told me stuck with me, “You can’t get there from here.” At the time, I questioned what He meant.
Now, I realized God was giving me previews of coming attractions. We needed to be retrained. But we couldn’t get there from our present position with the pastor and the church. God was calling us out. We needed a course correction.
The training for me would be to make God alone the source of my direction and counsel. I wrote in my journal, “You are God, and I’m not. You have great plans for Mike, and I. You are in the business of readying us for those plans. I’m too tired to fight or vindicate myself or anyone else. I feel like crawling in a big hole and hiding out for a month or two until this blows over. I now realize I put a man in Your place. Please forgive me. I am desperate for more of You.”
I flipped open my Bible that day. Text jumped off the page in confirmation. “I cry out to God Most High, to God who will fulfill His purpose for me.” Psalm 57:2 NLT
Several days later I woke up with another Psalms scripture running over and over in my head. “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go.” (Psalm 32:8)
I was closing the door on a key season of trial and blessing in my life. But, I was stepping into the light, and Holy Spirit would be my Teacher.
~~ How About You? ~~
Were you ever convinced beyond a shadow of a doubt that you were on the right road? Later you discover you were on the wrong road? I believed I was following God’s lead. But, somewhere along the path, I switched shepherds. Not a good idea. The shepherd wasn’t to blame, I was.
If only I’d followed through the year before. If only I’d been willing to wait while God led us to another church, I’d never be in this mess.
Waiting and keeping our eyes on Him are lessons we repeat for a lifetime. They never end.
I could not blame the pastor. Yes, he was wrong in some of his decisions and actions, but so was I.
Recently, I noted this comment on Facebook, from Al Mack, who was talking about blame:
“Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. Maybe we ought to check our hands: What’s in your hand? Go ahead. Lay ’em down.”
We need to be willing to take responsibility for our sin, our part, and lay down our accusing stones. In so doing, we begin the walk of repentance. (Turning around and heading back to our loving Father.) Without this, we are leaving the door open for more attack from the enemy.
2 Corinthians 7:9-10 says, “Now I rejoice, not that you were made sorry, but that your sorrow led to repentance. For you were made sorry in a godly manner, that you might suffer loss from us in nothing. 10 For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
We are sheep of His pasture. John 10:3-5 points out the truth about true shepherds and true sheep: “The gatekeeper opens the gate for him, and the sheep listen to his voice. He calls his own sheep by name and leads them out. 4 When he has brought out all his own, he goes on ahead of them, and his sheep follow him because they know his voice. 5 But they will never follow a stranger; in fact, they will run away from him because they do not recognize a stranger’s voice.”
We have a Good Shepherd, and He alone knows the way we are to take. God bless you as you listen for His voice and follow Him.