God’s will is not always easy to follow. Sometimes, it is excruciatingly painful! Such is the case of leaving Twining and coming to Bryan.
It was the Christmas of 1993. Pastor Bennett had been the pastor of First Baptist for 27 years and had been the pastor under whom I had grown up. He was in declining health at that time and realized it was time to make arrangements for the future. He asked me to meet with him and when I did, the topic of the meeting took me by surprise. Would you be interested in coming home and serving as associate pastor for a time and then transitioning into the senior pastor role?
Such an offer would seem like an oasis in the desert if there were problems in the current church where you are serving. That was not the case. We had been at Twining for almost three years. The church was growing, we enjoyed the people, and I think they were enjoying us. We were not interested in leaving. After all, the Lord had miraculously brought us to this church. Why would we leave? However, Pastor Bennett had asked and it was only right to pray.
As 1994 progressed, so did Pastor Bennett’s pursuit of us to come. Finally, at the end of April 1994, First Baptist voted. The night the church voted, I was praying that God would make the vote a crystal, clear “no.” I didn’t just want the Lord to shut the door but I wanted to hear it slam. The opposite happened. FBC voted to call us to come in the associate pastor’s role. Please don’t misunderstand. I had nothing against coming to Bryan and my home church. I just didn’t want to leave the people we had grown to know and love.
Announcing this to the church in Michigan was horrible! The month of May was very uncomfortable and we realized just how deep the family tie had grown with these people. Our final Sunday was brutally painful! Tears flowed openly, tributes were made to us, and special songs were sung (Michael W. Smith’s Friends Are Friends Forever). Some did not understand this decision and believed that it was a move for more money, going to a better community, or climb some ecclesiastical ladder with a bigger church. None of that even came close to the truth.
What did we learn from this experience? We learned that doing God’s will is sometimes very painful, emotional, and difficult.
In Genesis 12:1, we read, “Now the LORD had said unto Abram, Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will shew thee…” Such a command had to take Abram by surprise. And, though the Scriptures don’t tell us, I would imagine that this was hard on Abram and his family. But, if Abram wouldn’t have obeyed, things would have become harder and he would have missed out on God’s blessings.
Genesis 12:2-3 “And I will make of thee a great nation, and I will bless thee, and make thy name great; and thou shalt be a blessing: 3 And I will bless them that bless thee, and curse him that curseth thee: and in thee shall all families of the earth be blessed.”
Obedience is hard. Disobedience is harder. Obedience comes with blessings. Disobedience invites chastisement.
Don’t let emotions and feelings stand in the way of doing what God calls you to do!