Simply put God has called me to the Prodigal-Church.
Yeah, you know.
The ones referred to as:
The Wrecked and Wounded.
The ones who have heard it all before and just ain’t listenin’ anymore!
These are the “ones” who are severely bruised, deeply disappointed and pissed off at God, The Church, or all of the above.
(Nope. Not an easy crowd.)
But, you know what else?
God passionately LOVES these that many folks just privately hope will “Go away.” leaving us in ‘The Good Church’ to our sleepy tranquility.
I know because I was one of these prodigals, and truth be known? Sometimes I still am.
Ticked-off that is—not prodigal.
I still get angry because many of these folks have been brutally beat-up good-n’-proper.
Perhaps they “once upon a time” believed. But, now?
Now they ain’t havin’ anything to do with it!
They have hit the dusty trail, and now have turtle-shells thick-n’-crusty around once trusting hearts.
Yet they are STILL HIS. And are perhaps MORE WANTED than they were in the beginning.
(Before it all went wrong in their lives.)
Make no mistake about it—He still calls them BELOVED, and He longs for them to come home to Him.
These the Saints consider rabble-rousers, and futile-flotsam, He calls with infinite tenderness, “My Beloved.
I believe this because—I was one of them when He came after me.
(And I do understand how “The Church” feels.)
I fondly remember the days of easy crowds and occupying easy chairs. (Yeah, I confess.) All gone now, and it’s okay because I believe someone needs to reach Wounded Sheep! All those Prickly-Prodigals with crusty shells around hearts that have stopped believing in anyone calling themselves Christian—walking away from our churches—taking the back door out.
Yep, they’re my assignment. My mission. My project.
Believe me—those are words I now hold very sacred.
When Jesus says to you, “Follow me.” He is not asking you to live in a hothouse full of roses. He is calling you to your own cross.
And, your “cross” is not a pretty piece of jewelry around your neck. It is an instrument of torture, suffering, and death. Your cross is a place where Self, with its hopes, aspirations, and dreams are annihilated.
We in the Church throw the word cross around as casually as grace sometimes. But we do people a great disservice if we portray following Christ as only a “joy ride” without the expectation to also wholeheartedly embrace suffering.
The Apostle Paul wrote,”
“IamcrucifiedwithChrist: nevertheless, I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.” [Gal. 2:20Gal. 2:20 English: World English Bible - WEB 20 I have been crucified with Christ, and it is no longer I that live, but Christ living in me. That life which I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself up for me.
If you believe them, you may be choosing to live them out, literally.
Count the cost—because there will be a cost.
His word guarantees it.
And still… I ASKED to be made a woundresser.
Crazy? Probably. Am I sorry? Some days yes; most days—no. And that’s just being honest with you.
I now know to become a woundresser involves a costly education.
One I do not recommend for the faint of heart.
BACK IN “THE FOLD” — MY EDUCATION CONTINUES
As if my past is not enough of a resume, Jesus decides my education needs expanding.
There were more dark storms waiting for me on my horizon; baffling and incomprehensible storms. Storms that shook everything I trusted and believed.
“… everything that could be shaken, would be shaken so that that which could not be shaken would remain.” [Heb. 12:27Heb. 12:27 English: World English Bible - WEB 27 This phrase, “Yet once more,” signifies the removing of those things that are shaken, as of things that have been made, that those things which are not shaken may remain.
I became pregnant at eighteen only to have my twin babies die in utero.
Being young, painfully ignorant, and unaware of what happened, I walked around with these dead babies inside.
Needless to say, I became extremely ill and almost died. But that wasn’t the worst. Not the pain, or the blood, or even the resulting hysterectomy at eighteen. That hysterectomy was devastating. But the grief and pain that got buried under a huge secret was worse.
I was told “a tumor had been removed” and my medical records were then sealed.
For over forty years there were memories of events I couldn’t explain. Questions that went unanswered. And grief that had been buried alive. It was the weirdest sensation, being haunted by “feelings” that made no sense.
Then there was the ultimate realization that most of your adult life has been based on a lie.
My second medical crisis, a misdiagnosed thyroid crash, left me helpless, hopeless, and jobless.
There were astronomical medical bills I couldn’t pay, putting me into a medical bankruptcy and wiping out my credit.
I have been homeless—twice. Though not “on the street” I have slept on floors, in some very filthy and unsafe places.
I spent twelve years building a business, only to hand it off to an unscrupulous business partner who decided he wanted it ALL. I walked away with nothing, believing what the bible says, that fighting in a courtroom is wrong and about as unchristian as it gets.
I have been through what I call “a Church holocaust” where I was shunned, though I was never charged with any offense. Overnight I was an untouchable outcast. No one was allowed to speak to me or have any contact with me.
You have to go through the horror of shunning to understand that kind of painful rejection. You are emotionally stoned and left for dead.
The official diagnosis was: “One of the worst cases of spiritual abuse the Experts had ever seen.
Their verdict: “These people will likely never recover, or ever be an active part of a church again.”
I have endured a “bully” pulpit, but Pastors are also victims of abuse. The spiritual abuse door swings both ways.
My last three churches all had pastors who became embroiled in headline-making sexual scandals. The “holocaust” ending in a devastating church split.
Me? I’m thinking, “Three strikes—I’m out!”
God AGAIN—had OTHER plans.
First, because His plan holds the promise that He will never forsake you. (No matter how fierce your storm!)
Second, because of His love, He will make a way when you lose your way.
I was befriended by one Christian couple.
Ned and Maryellen—you were the incarnation for me; Jesus with skin on.
They washed my wounds with the word of God.
They spoke Light and Love into my life when I saw only darkness, pain, and hopelessness.
They “sang” songs of faith to me when I was engulfed in storm clouds of despair and doubt.
They gave me back my song when I believed I would never sing again.
They were His Lighthouse’s, shining Truth into my storm; reviving my battered faith.
Though we have never formally met, I will love them to my last earthly breath.
Which brings me to this place—this book I call, Habakkuk’s Vineyard.
(Perhaps the point and real purpose of it all?)
This “vineyard” has been a barren place for sure—of everything but His Love and Grace.
Because it has been RIGHT HERE that He has PROVED TO ME:
Nothing can separate me from the love of God!
Not broken families.
Not our own brand of broken behavior.
Not broken churches.
Not other broken hearts—who just don’t know Him yet.
NOTHING. [Romans 8:38-39Romans 8:38-39 English: World English Bible - WEB 38 For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,
39 nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.