This post does not answer any questions that have been asked, but is a precursor to coming answers. I felt that it would help readers understand future answers. So, for those who have wondered but failed to ask. . .
“How did you end up in an abusive church?”
What is your dream?
What if you could live anywhere and serve the Lord in any capacity? What would you do?
Have you ever wanted something for your family; anything that would suit the needs of your children?
My dream was to raise my children in the country, where my husband and I could work the land. I wanted room for my children to explore and run free. A place to garden and raise animals was at the top of my list. Our home did not need to be large; space outdoors was all I dreamed of.
My husband had the same dream and knew just the place. Somewhere, there is a picture of me standing in front of a river. All you can see of me is my silhouette with hands raised high to the creator of this beautiful place. It was taken during our engagement on the day my husband introduced me to his dream. We had taken a snowmobile to that river and when we arrived he told me, “This is where we will live someday. One of these days, we will build our home by this river.”
Our other dream was to serve the Lord in building his church. We had been in youth ministry for years, but our hearts were somewhere else. What we really wanted was to work with others in authentic community. We were in pursuit of a Christian community that worked together in and out of the traditional church boundaries. We felt like there was so much more to Christianity than we had experienced so far.
Good friends who lived in the country, with land on that river. We were visiting them the day we rode to the river. They had been friends of the family for almost thirty years. Their home became our getaway. Whenever we got the chance to leave home for a few days, we were there. The love and faith of the family was inspiring and the country atmosphere was relaxing. I never wanted to go home.
Many events transpired over the next twelve years, drawing us closer to our friends and their home. What began as a Bible study in their home eventually became a small church and we were intrigued. From a distance, we watched the church grow, waiting to see what God was doing. By our observations, the church was growing into a community of committed believers who loved each other deeply and worked together in service to the Lord. Children were growing up and either staying close to home or returning after a time away. They wanted to be a part of what the Lord was doing in his church there. This in particular was attractive to us when so many other Christian youth grew up to leave their faith.
From the beginning, we had been encouraged to move to the country and live near our friends. They knew about our dreams and invited us to join them in community. Eventually, we became serious about the idea and prayed over it diligently.
As we prayerfully considered the future, we began to see both good and bad about this place. The good we saw was in line with what we read about the church in the New Testament: the older women teaching the younger women, everyone looking out for the needs of others, mothers teaching their children, men leading their families. The amount of attention given to the preacher, whom we came to know as the shepherd, seemed out of balance. The people also seemed to focus more on the church than on Jesus. The good seemed wonderful and the bad seemed more like immaturity. Our friends appealed to us, saying we would meet a need for maturity in the young church.
In the end, we believed this was exactly where we should be. Not only would our dream of living in the country come true, our desire to help build the church would also be fulfilled. So, we moved and established our home on a piece of land that backed onto that beautiful river. It was a dream come true, but it would not turn out the way we hoped.
Have you ever followed your dreams?