I’m not a woman who believes in coincidence and the timing of finishing our discussion on the chapter entitled, “The Greatest Gift is Love” only serves to deepen that conviction. The season of ministry in which Luke and I currently find ourselves is without a doubt the most difficult we have ever faced in our 18 years of experience. However, there is one thing of which we are certain: a group of believers committed to loving one another can make it through any attack as long as we will lock shields and fight as one man. (Thank you, Gladiator, for that visual.) I sobbed tonight as I read back over this chapter whose future relevance I couldn’t begin to comprehend when it was written almost 2 years ago.
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” (1 Peter 4:8) This verse has always held special significance for me because I’m just foolish enough to believe it works. This verse is the reason I have never withheld my heart from those we serve because I am confident that if we have relationships and friendships within the pews that there will be a basis for forgiveness when either one of us just flat blows it. Love says that we believe the best about someone first, that we bless those who curse us, that we give the benefit of the doubt, that we think of others as better than ourselves, and that we come to serve instead of being served. The truth is, love doesn’t always ‘like’ but it does at least throw a blanket of grace over the unsavory thing so we can maintain unity.
There is a paragraph on pg. 183 that I would like to quote. It is also the one that made me cry so much because I know the Lord wanted me to see it with fresh eyes on this very day:
“In our (the minister’s family) defense, there are often two legitimate sides to an issue and yet we are forced to choose one. If our choice falls to the opposite side of your own opinion, will you love us anyway? Can we agree to disagree and move on side by side even if we don’t feel like holding hands at the moment? When we can operate beyond our own desires and seek God’s agenda for our lives and churches, everyone wins.”
What do we win exactly? Victory over Satan’s schemes. He has come to devour our testimony. To bring to nothing all the ground we’ve gained together. To steal the love of the saints towards God and one another. When, when, will we catch on and turn it back on him? Why are we still taken captive by the same old arguments that set themselves up against the true, life-altering, knowledge of Christ and how we respond in trial because of it?
I know you are probably thinking, ‘Easier said that done, Lisa. Are you really that naive?’ The answer to that question is yes, yes I am. Because here is what I know: we have God’s Word in front of us and it is a plumb line. There isn’t any single situation you could level against it for which there isn’t a relevant instruction on how to proceed through it. We weren’t promised easy but we are promised that all things are possible for him who believes. It drives me insane that we could sit for years in a sanctuary every Sunday morning or in our Bible study classes on weeknights and hear teaching after teaching on how to live the Christian life and then totally disconnect our knowledge from our action when it’s time to road test all we’ve learned.
Girls, we have to love. Even when it hurts. Even when it is the last stinkin’ thing we want to do. Even when it requires humility that is hard to muster. And you know what? The unfortunate truth is that there may be a day when that affection is not reciprocated and it is time to move on. But, we can do that knowing that we did the noble thing. That we could walk out (or be hurled out!) with heads held high because we loved and protected and acted from that place of motivation.
It has been such a pleasure to walk through this book with you and to share once again my heart where ministry is concerned. I consider it the greatest privilege of life and will never take for granted the special ability to serve Christ’s Body and the people in it. It is also a wonderful thrill to think that any word contained here was used to strengthen your resolve to hang in there. God thought much of you when He appointed you to this life, my friends. Don’t you ever forget that.
The past weeks have also profoundly humbled me again as I’ve watched my husband fight the gates of Hell on behalf of his beloved people. IBC, you can not comprehend the heights and depths to which you are loved and how far your pastor would go to rescue just one of you or to shelter all of you. You have no idea. It is with unwavering conviction that I say I am utterly confident in this man’s leadership and that I absolutely trust his judgment because he is on his face before the Lord with his soul clean and bared before Him. There is no greater judge of a man’s character than the opinion held of him by his wife who sees him when the microphone is off and the parsonage doors are closed. I’ve never been more convinced of the right man being in the right place for such a time as this. It is my joy to uphold him so he can be of greater service to you.
So maybe you girls recognized I’m really tender and got a little carried away there. After brief consideration, I think I’ll leave it all intact. I don’t have a long list of questions for you but would rather ask:
“Can you encourage us with a situation where love saved the day?”
I need to hear it and I know many other people do as well.