the gracious and terrible “no”

This is what happens sometimes: You plead with God for something for years and years, and He keeps letting you ask until finally, painfully, He says “no.” I don’t pretend to understand the mechanics of this, or to have some hidden insight into why God does this (or does anything). I do know this: The “no” is not because He doesn’t love us, and neither is the drawn-out asking.

My church‘s last public service is next Sunday. After nearly thirteen years of existence and prayers for growth and health and for His kingdom to come to Houston through our being there, we’re closing. We voted about it this morning, after about a month of discussions and real, gut-punched grief.

This is the end of my having been a member of a church for nine years, of having worked for said church for three years and some change. This is God’s gracious and terrible “no” after having said “yes” to so many other things.

There’s much that could be said here, and there are stories around that are not mine to tell. What is my story to tell is this: While my church has been a source of love and healing to me, for the past few years it’s also been a cause for anxiety and sadness, and a great deal of me is breathing a sigh of relief. We’re not closing because of sin or disunity or anything like that, which is a small miracle in and of itself. The choice was made by people I trust, and I believe God is using this to send us out into places where we can grow and flourish in the gifts that He’s given us for the benefit of the church in ways we’ve not been able to.

But that being said, this is still a heartbreaking thing, and there are people I love who are very upset about it, and I want to give them room to be upset about it. It’s going to be pretty hard for a while, even after our last service.

So pray for us, if you’re so inclined–pray for healing of hearts, pray that my pastor and his family can find a place they can settle into, pray that we all find new churches where Christ is exalted. And pray that we will continue to love each other well.

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