Ready for a boring history? Well, read on at your peril... I never do anything half-heartedly ;)
God is so good. For the first 9 years of my life, my family attended a Baptist church with a great emphasis on solid Biblical teaching, and the homeschool families there really banded together and supported one another. I loved home groups, homeschool field trips, and spending time with other big families of similar interests.
I'm not sure why we left, but my parents felt God was leading us elsewhere, so we visited a new church one Sunday. Love at first sight ;) I have never witnessed a group of people more active in service and loving care for one another than at this church. At the time, the church was small and made up mostly of homeschoolers. I never thought God would ask us to leave, we were so involved in the homeschool co-op, AWANA, teaching sunday school, and myriads of other projects. But it seems to me that as a church grows, there is a tendency to get watered down in doctrine, purpose, and unity. Perhaps I'm wrong. I hope so, but my experience speaks otherwise. I have never felt so emotional about changing churches as I was on leaving this one. My parents wished better things for me and my siblings - a higher calling, a narrow road that means being different from the world, and shunned by 'cool' people. The youth and leadership were pulling the opposite direction in dress, music, actions, attitudes... and the new Christian school seemed to draw many home educators. 8 years had seen a lot of changes in both the church and my family - in the opposite direction.
You know when there is a conviction by the Holy Spirit, 'visionaries' (those who are passionate about their ideals and eager for change) tend to hit the opposite wall - that's exactly what happened with my family. We longed for a church family whose music, dress, and attitudes reflected the purity and 'peculiarity' that should mark believers in Christ. After visiting so many churches that the little kids would make a habit of asking, "Where are we going this Sunday, Daddy?" We found a church that shares our ideals. For two years members of my family struggled with this decision, however. I'm afraid I was the worst. I am reactionary, and I loved everything about this new church - hymns only, suits and dresses, King James only, great teaching, respectful youth. I did not want to leave, though God was not giving my parents peace with the change. When will I ever learn that my parents are the instruments of almighty God for good, and not for evil? That in my folly, they can guide me to the right path if I will only submit and listen to their teaching.
After a year, my family became quite cynical - every Sunday over lunch we would argue, joke, laugh and cry over this church. Why were all the issues that had made us leave SWH so important? What made our new church so right or wrong about things like only reading the KJV, singing hymns, and girls wearing dresses only? Were we simply guilty of 'church shopping', choosing to fight over 'gray areas', or were we truly convicted by God of Biblical truth? Were we dealing with legalism or leniency?
My heart changed - how frail I am. I realized that my parents were right. If we could not submit to our new church leaders, we needed to move on. We left and tore the whole family away from the few friends all had made.
Finally, through ECD, I met three lovely young ladies (you know them as Caity, Megan and Emily :) ). By happenchance I mentioned my family's struggle, and their family invited us to their church. We are now where God wants us and I am at peace for the first time in two and a half years.
I now know the purpose behind why the Lord sent us to this last church for those two years, yet never allowed us to stay. It went through a major church division at the same time that we left our old church, so it was not the right timing! My family also had many lessons to learn, many priorities and convictions to form, and struggles to work through. That's when faith becomes real and doctrine becomes your lifeline.
We have come full circle. I miss so many friends from all three churches, godly examples who encourage me to walk in His ways. I pray that you will forgive me for any words not spoken in love, but mostly for my bitter thoughts during these times. I am extremely opinionated, and where I failed to show grace to others, many still extended grace to me. To all of you that read this, thank you.
Two years ago, I grew fed up with the lack of repentance and the justice of God not being preached by churches in America. Where was the zeal, the conviction of sin in unbelievers' hearts? Why all the 'back-slidden' and apathetic Christians in the churches I visited? When I turned my focus to the wrath of God, however, I began to miss the grace of God. It's like driving - you find yourself drifting towards the ditch, and you react by yanking the wheel to the left and veering into the other lane.
In His mercy, I have again found as King David did;
"The Lord is gracious and full of compassion. He has given food to those who fear Him; He will ever be mindful of His covenant." (Ps. 111:4-5)
"Oh that men would give thanks to the Lord for His goodness, and for His wonderful works to the children of men! For He satisfies the longing soul, and fills the hungry soul with goodness." (Ps. 107:8-9)
"Bless the Lord, O my soul; and all that is within me, bless His holy name!
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all His benefits:
who forgives all your iniquities, who heals all your diseases,
who redeems your life from destruction, who crowns you with lovingkindness and tender mercies,
who satisfies your mouth with good things, so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
The Lord executes righteousness and justice for all who are oppressed.
He made known His ways to Moses, His acts to the children of Israel.
The Lord is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in mercy.
He will not always strive with us, nor will He keep His anger forever.
He has not dealt with us according to our sins, nor punished us according to our iniquities.
For as the heavens are high above the earth, so great is His mercy toward those who fear Him; as far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.
As a father pities his children, so the Lord pities those who fear Him.
For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust.
As for man, his days are like grass; as a flower of the field, so he flourishes.
For the wind passes over it, and it is gone, and its place remembers it no more.
But the mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear Him,
and His righteousness to children's children, to such as keep His covenant,
and to those who remember His commandments to do them." (Ps. 103:1-18 NKJV)
Brothers and sisters in Christ, never forget the greatest commandment - to love one another.