Church Planting Lesson #17: One moment of grace will wipe out 100+ critics, complaints, and concerns

LESSON #17:  One moment of grace will wipe out 100+ critics, complaints, and concerns…

Last night, the men of Damascus Road gathered for some good Bible and some good brew.  Every other Tuesday, men gather to delve into Systematic Theology–an organized study of our God.   For our last gathering, we discussed the providence of God and, specifically, His relationship to evil.  We examined some disturbing passages that forced us to ask some hard questions about the “evil” that comes into our lives.  At one point I asked if God could cause, give, permit, allow, or ordain us to have a terminal illness.

As I asked this question, I knew I was sitting next to a good friend (will call him Bob) who came to our church with his lovely bride (will call her Betty) about a year and a half ago.  In that time, they have grown in their faith and in their relationships with our community .  On Monday, Betty was diagnosed with bone cancer.  One of our pastors talked with Bob on the day they found out.  They were devastated.  We offered to come pray with them, to cry with them, to just be with them.  They wanted to be alone.

I didn’t expect Bob to show up at a Theology night where we’d be talking about God’s Providence.  Perhaps I projected my own faithlessness onto him.  And though Bob dialogued about the topic, he didn’t reveal the news.  As the evening came to a close and people began to leave, I turned to Bob and asked him how he was.  He spoke honestly about how he felt to be a man whose wife of 34 years has cancer.  I just listened.  After he finished, I asked him how his bride was feeling.  He paused, tears began to well up in his eyes.  Then he said something that blew every critic, complaint, concern I had away…

He said that she was being very strong and that she didn’t want everyone to worry.  Then he said that one of the first statements to come out of her mouth was, “I just want God to be glorified through this.”  Bob cried and  I cried with him.  We prayed together in our tears, not knowing what will happen next, but declaring our trust in a God who does.  Bob was no longer talking about his theology, he and his bride were living it–in a way that perhaps I never have.  It was humbling, convicting, and beautiful.  For me, my tears were not only those of sorrow, but of joy in what God is doing in the hearts people like Bob and Betty.

As a church planter, it is all too easy to be discouraged by the externals, to depend on numbers, to be hurt when people leave, and to wonder if anyone is listening and if any of it really matters at all.  Be encouraged, be faithful to the gospel in word and deed, and trust that God is at work in ways you can’t see.


Author: Sam Ford

Sam Ford is a preacher, planter, and pastor from the Pacific Northwest. He is currently pastoring Restoration Road Church in Snohomish, WA.

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