Monday, 15 September 2014 00:00

Wounded: When it is Hard to Love

Written by Tim Lee

"Are you crazy?" and "Do you think you will even get into the house?" The previous two questions came from the lips of the nephew (Don) of the chairman of deacons. The questions came from my desire to meet a need for that deacon.

Just a month earlier this deacon stood before my congregation and said I was the reason the young people had left the church. Brother Mickey's (the disgruntled deacon) daughter-in-law joined the conflict by sharing things that were false. Brother Mickey had a big heart. I knew he was responding to the hurt he perceived me to have caused.

The previous Sunday there had been a divisive meeting at the church. A group of people (10-15) including the deacon's son and daughter-in-law wanted to vote me out as pastor. Most of the complaints were over important things like the use of the church van and borrowing toilet paper without permission. This was the beginning of the list.

The business meeting was extremely difficult. I was attacked and ridiculed. I was able to endure with the help of a loving and tender Heavenly Father, as well as some godly men and women in my church family who supported and comforted me. My leadership was affirmed in the meeting. The affirmation did not erase the hurt and embarrassment I felt.

I had to move on, but how? There were people who were angry, and hurt. Two weeks later, at our homecoming service, I saw Brother Mickey and learned that a disabling health issue resulted in him being unable to take a bath for three weeks. He could not get in and out of the tub.

Mickey's family decided to provide for his needs by doing some renovation. I got Don to let me know when the renovation would occur. Don informed me that the work would start the following Monday at 6 p.m. Don said, "I still think you are crazy." On Monday evening I brought my tools and jumped into the middle of the project. As I entered Brother Mikey's home his eyes got the size of grapefruit and mouths dropped opened. I said "good evening" and started to work.

Later that evening Don told me, "Tim, we got a new administrator where I work. I haven't had a day off in 60 days. You know what you are doing; this can be your project." The next morning I showed up at 7 a.m. and quickly began working. Brother Mickey greeted me with a smile. As I worked, he sat on his scooter at the bathroom door. We talked, laughed and told stories like nothing had ever happened. About 8 p.m. that evening the shower and bathroom were completed.

On the way home the Holy Spirit reminded to me that God does the same thing for me. When I hurt or disappoint Him, He never withholds His love, kindness and blessings. I didn't tell anyone what I had done. I went about my normal activities, and two weeks later Brother Mickey and his wife were back in church. The church family told me Brother Mickey prayed the sweetest prayer for me. His wife always told her Sunday school class, "Don't forget to pray for our pastor."

I had the opportunity to go on a mission trip to Africa in the same year this conflict occurred. The Sunday evening before I was to leave, my church commissioned me for this trip. Many of the men came forward to lay hands and pray for me. Brother Mickey joined them. He was near the back of the church. He rode his scooter to the front. He was delayed by objects on the floor. When he got to the front the men had begun to pray. He reached out his hands, placed them on my head and said, "Oh, God this is my pastor, and I love him." "Please send him back to us."

Every time I think of this experience I am overcome with emotion. Let me be honest, every time I read verses like Matthew 5:44, " your enemies, bless them who curse you, do good to them who hate you, and pray for them who despitefully use you, and persecute you," I say, "Yeah, yeah I know that is what I am supposed to do, but loving your opposition is hard." Love brings healing. Love changes things. It changes you. It changes others.

God loves like this all the time. He loves us regardless of faults, and failures. God is love!