Life has many bumps. Our church has hit a few of those recently. We call it transition. We are changing and change requires stretching, maneuvering and many other things that we humans have grown to resent and fear.
The other night, after helping out a ministry, some fellow church attenders were sitting around, ready to enjoy some pie. I'm not much for pie, but I thought it would be fun to hang around and get to know these people. Most of them I know by sight but haven't gotten to really know. All of them were my "elders". So the pie is passed around and they start talking. Not two minutes pass before I hear a grumble. You know what that is, the "I'm not happy about so-and-so". That grumble leads to another grumble and another. Soon, I'm surrounded by grumbles.
And there I sit, listening. My heart is welling up with concern. These grumbles are the worst kind, the ones that cast doubt on the shoulders of good people. I want badly to stop the grumbles, but I also realize that my normal reaction (a "knock it off") that works well with close friends, peers and children, is not going to cut it here. So I try to counter the grumbles with something uplifting. I add in things like, "I know his heart is for us to all worship together," and "I think the messages she shares are really valid," and "I like it when we pray in service". And what meets my uplift? Stronger grumbles!
By this time, I was in a tizzy. My soul is shouting that I need to counter but my heart is whispering that these are my elders and I am called and commanded to respect them. So I did the only thing that I could. I left.
As I was driving home, I peppered God with questions. How could I stand against such grumbles and still be respectful? How can I respect these people when they are setting such a bad example? I heard nothing. At home, I wrestled and wrestled to no avail. I knew I would wrestle all night if I didn't get it out of my system and the prayers so far only complicated the matter. So I wrote an email to some very wise people (a married couple) who I knew would understand my thoughts, not judge me too harshly and, most importantly, hopefully be able to help me wrestle it out.
Today, I finally got to talk to one of them about it (just writing the email got it out of my system enough so I could sleep!). I told him I was still at a loss for how to counter, but that I knew now it was a very tactical spiritual attack- and I felt like I failed. He understood and said I did the right thing by leaving, and that I was on the right track. Then I pointblank asked, "How can I counter it, next time, and still be respectful. It is still on my heart that the issue needs to be confronted."
His response? Ask questions. Come at it from the point of trying to understand. He said he always feels respected when people ask questions because it shows they are thinking and grasping your point of view, or at least making an effort. And he was in agreement that it IS a spiritual battle and one the enemy has been using for ages. He also said if my heart was still compelled, it probably meant I was convicted and confronting out of conviction rather than anger is always the better option.
So, I think I'm ready for the next battle. I hope I am and pray that God will give me the strength to keep fighting. After all, this is HIS church, HIS people and He desires us to be a family- and so do I. I want to honor Him and pull our family together. If you think of it, pray for me and my church.