A couple months ago, a lawn service worker was driving a box truck and used the parking lot of the church I attend, Faith Baptist, to cut through to the street behind the church. He and others do this often since the church has a traffic signal making left hand turns in and out of that side of the road easier. This time, unfortunately, he was distracted and went under our canopy which wasn’t tall enough for the box truck he was driving. This resulted in our canopy being destroyed and the steeple having to be removed. Thankfully nobody was injured which is the most important thing. Without the canopy and steeple the front of the church looks kind of sad. As a kid, whenever I was asked to draw a church, my drawings always included a steeple. Many churches these days don’t have steeples, and I know that a steeple doesn’t make a building into a church, but my church’s building just doesn’t look complete without it.
About a week and a half after the canopy was demolished, my church’s senior pastor resigned. I don’t know all of his reasons as to why, and even if I did, I still might not understand the why. I’m not going to get into that aspect because his reasons are his own to tell. Whatever the reasons, his resignation has left me sad and a bit unsure entirely how to feel. I’ll start with a little background…okay, maybe not all that little, but background nonetheless. When my parents were pregnant with me, they attended a different church. They met my (now former) pastor and his wife when they attended the same child birthing class. After all the babies from the class were born, they all met up to introduce all of us newborns to each other. That’s when I met my friend, Rebecca, and we’ve been friends ever since. Over the next few years, my family would occasionally visit Faith Baptist if our church wasn’t having a service. When I was 5 years old, my family decided that we needed to find a new church. We visited quite a few in the area before ultimately deciding to regularly attend Faith Baptist. Twenty-seven years later, that’s still where my parents attend and where I’ve restarted going since life brought us back to the area nearly 2 years ago. I was talking to my dad recently and pointed out that the age I am now is the age he was when we joined Faith Baptist. Until a month and a half ago, we’d had the same senior pastor the entire time. Since I was such good friends with Rebecca, if I wasn’t at home or at church, chances were good I was at her house. I even helped build their house. I often tagged along with my dad when the house was being built and if Bec and/or her brothers weren’t there, I’d help putty over nails on the drywall or bring tools to the workers. Her parents were like another set of parents to me. They were a source of encouragement to me, and when needed, correction as well. After my biological family, they probably were the biggest influences in my life, and I consider them to be part of my “adopted” family. When Justin and I were about to be married, we went to Pastor for our pre-marital counselling. He told Justin that he considered my family to be part of his family and that Justin had better treat me right. After Justin was injured, while he was on the phone with me for that initial call, he asked me to give the nurse Pastor’s cell phone number so that he could call him later that day. That was (I believe) the 3rd post-injury call that Justin made. No matter how long I was away or how far away I was due to college, the Army, Justin’s injuries, my family and my church have always been two constants that haven’t changed all that much. Going back home meant I would see my parents, at least one of my sisters, possibly my grandparents, and I would go to church and at church, Pastor would normally be the one preaching. After living other places for about 6 years, so much had changed back home, but those things were relatively the same. Until now.
Like the front of the church building looks sad without a steeple, the pulpit looks sad without a senior pastor. Don’t get me wrong, the rest of the pastoral staff are great and they are doing a wonderful job during this crazy time of transition that very few in our church have ever experienced at our church. There are only a handful of charter members left who were around when Faith Baptist’s first senior pastor stepped down to associate pastor and Pastor stepped into the pulpit as senior pastor, and that transition wasn’t nearly as…I don’t even know how to describe it. I’ve never been in a church that was searching for a senior pastor before. There’s so much uncertainty and so many questions. What will our new pastor be like? Will I like his preaching? Will I like him as a person? Will he be someone I’m comfortable talking to when I need advice? Someone that I can call to pray for my family if something goes wrong? Will he have a family? If so, what will they be like? Will his wife be someone who will encourage the other ladies in the church? Will his kids be kids that my son can look up to (if they’re older) or that he’ll enjoy spending time with? Will he lead our church and help us draw closer to God? The list of questions could go on and on. We’re at the beginning of the process and just elected the people who comprise our pulpit search committee. Only God knows who our next pastor will be.
With all the uncertainty at my church, and in the world today, I’m thankful that my faith isn’t grounded in a person or a country or anything here on earth. The foundation of my faith is God and His Word. Two things that won’t change. I don’t like change, especially change that I can’t control. It’s a comfort to me to know that God never changes, and while the future can look scary from a distance, nothing in the future is out of God’s control. He holds the future in his unmovable, unchangeable hands. Psalm 146:3-6 say, “Do not put your trust in princes, nor in a son of man, in whom there is no help. His spirit departs, he returns to his earth; in that very day his plans perish. Happy is he who has the God of Jacob for his help, whose hope is in the Lord his God, who made heaven and earth, the sea, and all that is in them; who keeps truth forever,” Over the course of my life, I’ve learned that people will let me down. People will not always be there when I need them or would like them to be. People move away, and sometimes I’ve been the one to move away. People die. People change, and with that change, relationships often change. God never changes, and He has helped me work through many changes in the past, is helping me in the present, and I have faith that He will help me in the future…even when I try to do it on my own and fail miserably.
This time for my church is difficult, but even in the midst of this crazy transition, God is working to bring us the right senior pastor and to make us the right church for that man. John 14:27 says, “Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” Even during times that don’t make sense to have peace, God brings us that peace when we trust in Him to take care of the situation. Philippians 4:6-7 says, “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Please pray with me for my church. Thanking God for the years we had with Pastor and thanking Him for the rest of the pastoral staff. Praying for the current pastoral staff that God will give them strength and wisdom, praying for the man who will one day be our senior pastor, and praying for our church both now during the transition time and later when the new pastor is brought into our church family.