Saturday, July 7, 2007

Lost Friends

I am saddened. I think I’ve lost two friends. Just so happens to have happened close enough in time to frustrate me. In my contemplation of this matter, I feel there are two main reasons – two reasons that may manifest in slightly different ways, but here they are for your consideration.

1. My name seems to be synonymous with the name of our church – something I do consider an honor. However, my friends, in their decision to leave this congregation, find they must also leave me.

Leaving a church………….sounds so painful to me.

There used to be protocol for leaving a church body. Probably because people did it so rarely. A family would leave their church reluctantly and only because of a move or a call from God. They would obtain a letter of recommendation from their “old” pastor to be given to their “new” pastor. The old pastor would often call ahead and help them to find a new congregation with which to worship. Pastors and members would stick it through, no matter the hardships. They had faith that all would come out on the other side better and closer to God.

Now-a-days, people skip from church to church as easily as finding a new restaurant to have Sunday lunch. They leave for as many excuses as there are people. I have noticed a trend, though. A trend that is just as easily seen in broken marriages.

Have you ever noticed that after a divorce, a woman will suddenly decide that she needs to “remake” herself? She will join a gym, lose weight, get a new hair-do, update her wardrobe, redecorate her house, find new friends, basically remake herself. She then says she is so much happier. That she has found herself. And that she likes her new self so much better than the old married self. She considers her divorce a good thing. I wonder, though, what would have happened if she would have put forth as much effort before the divorce. If she would have “found” herself and become happy while she was still married, would her husband still have lost interest in her?

Over and over again, when folks decide to leave a church, it is because of a hunger inside. They may or may not understand this hunger. But many times they will confess that no, they have not been reading the Word or spending any decent amount of time with the Lord. A couple will not have been praying together. They will have been “so busy”, “so sick”, “so tired” that they have not been fellowshipping with the saints much at all. In this time of discontent, they make a decision to try another church. Maybe this new church will feed their hunger. They decide to divorce. After they have left, they often decide they need a fresh start. Christian resolutions usually start with reading their Bible more and spending more time in prayer. Through the process of “remaking” themselves, they become happier and more content. They will then, most often, give the credit to changing churches. I submit that if they would have put forth as much effort getting their daily lives more in line with what Christ has in mind for them, they would have found their first church a wonderful haven of rest – one that they would see no reason for leaving.

2. I am not loved for who I am, but abandoned because of what I am not.

If I am not careful, this can really bother me. But, age and the wisdom that comes from it, have taught me that this isn’t a “place” for me to stop long. I am to be what God has called me to be. I am learning every day what that really means and my journey will take a lifetime. When God improves me, it is such a blessing and joy – sometimes uncomfortable, but always fruitful. When I let others try to improve me, it cause strife – within and without.

Unfortunately, I cannot be everyone’s best friend. Sometimes, depending on your point of view, I may not even be a good friend. But, I have prayed and interceded for my friends. I have fought the enemy over my friends. I have stood strong for their marriages. I have prayed for their children. Seeing them has most often brought a smile to my face.

I really am so sorry that they have left our fold.

I will miss them.

3 comments:

  1. Hang in there. I've often found God's put people in my life for a season...when I needed them most. As we change, so do our needs...but never our loves.

    As long as you're doing what you believe is right, you'll be blessed with more friends...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Tomorrow we finish the new member class at Harvest Rock. We will "officially" join. I'm taking it very seriously for resons you talk about in point one. Definitely not something to enter into lightly and not something I'll get out of easily.

    I'm so sorry about those who have left without actually troubling themselves to be released.

    One thing that is required in joining our new church is that new members are released from their old church. If necessary members are encouraged to go back, talk to their former pastors, apologize for leaving (if the leaving wasn't amicable) and ask for a blessing in the new place.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Please don't miss my point. I am not feeling so much "poor me" as I am "shame on them". Just so you know. *smile*

    ReplyDelete

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