Crossroads

(This is an article that I wrote for our former church’s Sunday program. I interviewed the wife of a couple at Shoal Creek in Pleasant Valley, MO. They were new to the church and I was new to the writing team. This was my first time writing an article from an interview. Their story still inspires me. It was great to sit down with someone and document their spiritual journey. She was so open and honest. I would love to do it again. NOTE: I did change their names to protect their very private story.)
It was just last fall. October 2011. Melissa came to a crossroads. Literally. On her way to church for the first time in a while, sitting at the stoplight of I-35, 69 Highway and Pleasant Valley Road, she asked God to lead her.
Which way? Do I go back to the church I know? Or do I try Shoal Creek? Which way, God?
Melissa knew she needed God. But where would she find Him?
Earlier in the year, in February, Melissa experienced the worst possible moment in a marriage, the moment your spouse reveals a secret. Any secret can leave someone feeling vulnerable, anxious and overwhelmed, but this secret was devastating. He had betrayed her by being intimate with another person. However fleeting the encounter, the indiscretion left Melissa reeling and unable to trust. Understandably.
Soon though, words of wisdom rushed back to her. Words from her mother.
Nothing worth doing is ever easy.
Melissa was ready to begin the journey toward reconciliation. Over the next rocky part of almost a year, Melissa and Rick went up and down on their return to faithfulness, a trail that is still being blazed.
Rick, for many years, was living like all of us, leading a very self-centered and self-focused life. He was in crisis.
Who am I? What do I want? What am I good for?
Something was missing. Rick thought that their marriage, their relationship, was missing some important ingredient. He was right. Sort of. Melissa knew what “the something” was. It was God. But how could she tell him?
Melissa’s friend had mentioned how much she enjoyed Shoal Creek. How different Shoal Creek was compared to traditional church. This was a surprise to Melissa because she knew her friend was definitely not a Mrs. McChurchy-pants. Her friend’s approval of Shoal Creek intrigued Melissa.
She turned right that fall day back in October. And she turned right into God. She wandered into the office at Shoal Creek and struggled through tears to finally ask for help. “Can I talk to someone?”
One of our senior staff members was there. He waited patiently for ten minutes while Melissa just cried. He listened for an hour and a half. Then he asked to meet with Rick and Melissa that Saturday afternoon for another hour and a half. This was an answer to prayer. Melissa had tried to contact a counselor and it would have been weeks before an actual appointment.
This leader could have been anyone. And he will kick the dirt and say, “Aw, shucks, it was all God.” BUT, it is because of his obedience and submission to God that this reconnection was made. God was able to use him. He revealed the worst parts of himself to reach that couple. He humbled himself to Melissa, to Rick and to God. He knew that God uses our sin and our mistakes for His plans.
Isn’t it miraculous that God can use every experience, good or bad, that formed and guided us for His glory? For His service, for His individual life-changing plans for our lives and in each other’s lives. Praise God.
From that day forward, God has moved slowly and amazingly in Melissa and Rick’s lives. Like a river, He has swept away the selfishness, settled the hurt and moved their hearts with the current of forgiveness and grace.
One day, Melissa was concerned and anxious about the past relationship. She thought, “Will this always be a part of who we are? Does he still think about her?”
She shared her anxiety with him. Rick touched her face with a sense of urgency, “I’m not that man anymore. You don’t have worry about that anymore.” Praise God.
Praise God that this bridge across the city was built, that these connections were made. These acts of selflessness change the course of people’s lives and demonstrate the vision of Christ. If we know the grace of God and do not share that, we are on a dead-end road. Whether it is across the room, across the street or across the world, God wants us to build those bridges. When someone’s life bottoms out and is washed away with the storm, we are the bridge-builders. God is the architect, but we are the hands for His plans. We are called to show God’s love so that others may know and see the truth, to see the way forward. Which way and to whom will you turn when you find yourself at the crossroads?Make those connections this year, this week, today…now.
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