John 8:2-11 ESV
Not my first rodeo.
I can’t forget my first rodeo in ministry. My Oh my was I green. I was so young!
I thought I knew something.
I sort of thought…how hard can youth ministry be? I wish I could laugh about it, but I can’t. It’s not so funny now.
I remember the first crisis where we were stimied about what to do. A young man was in a really bad place in his life and even at a young age he’d lived through a series of bad places. Life had dealt him one blow after another and there really weren’t any words to say to him.
I was humbled.
I was speechless.
I started to get a clue that I didn’t know what to do.
Even though we didn’t know what to say and we could not fix anything, we stuck with him and let him know he could come to us. That was my first rodeo where I saw another side of life.
So then after a while a small church extended a call and we packed up and moved a ways north.
We were big stuff.
We went to college.
We knew what the books said.
But while we were there we buried a good man, a faithful kind man who ended his life because the thought of being blind was more than he could bear.
We had no words. The books didn’t say how to help his widow face tomorrow.
We were starting to get a clue that we knew less than we thought we knew.
Then, down the road we went. We packed up moved across the state to a place we’d never heard about.
My oldest child was in third grade.
We still sort of thought we knew something.
While I was there I learned what EGR stood for. I met a woman who made it her mission in life to tell me everything I did wrong with my children.
The list was long. It made me tired.
I learned about coping when extra grace was required. Extra extra grace. I learned that love is not easy when everything I did was wrong.
Our time there ended when my daughter graduated from high school.
We packed up and on down the road we went to Mississippi River country.
I thought I knew something about giving extra grace.
I found out that I knew nothing. I came face to face with EGROS.
Now, I not only did nothing right with my children, I was told who my older children were to befriend and who they were not to befriend. This was extra grace required on steroids.
This was in my face ordering me publicly to do everything she demanded.
I remember thinking, “I have no words”.
Then when I didn’t think it could get worse, it did. We learned what happens when ministry staff grossly misuses church funds and privileges and the church is taking sides. There were problems at every corner and the walls were crumbling. Good people rose up to stop the abuser and good people defended the abuser.
None of it made sense, but eventually ‘right prevailed’ and after much pain and sorrow, the sun came out and everything was revealed.
After we caught our breath, down the road we went…
Little by little every step of the way I learned that I know nothing. I came to realize that my only response was, “I surrender all.”
I finally got a clue that I know nothing. I can not make order out of chaos. I learned that I cannot prepare for everything before it comes.
Only God can prepare me. God alone is God.
In John 8:2-11 we learn, “Early in the morning he came again to the temple. All the people came to him, and he sat down and taught them. The scribes and the Pharisees brought a woman who had been caught in adultery, and placing her in the midst they said to him, “Teacher, this woman has been caught in the act of adultery. Now in the Law, Moses commanded us to stone such women. So what do you say?” This they said to test him, that they might have some charge to bring against him. Jesus bent down and wrote with his finger on the ground. And as they continued to ask him, he stood up and said to them, “Let him who is without sin among you be the first to throw a stone at her.” And once more he bent down and wrote on the ground. But when they heard it, they went away one by one, beginning with the older ones, and Jesus was left alone with the woman standing before him. Jesus stood up and said to her, “Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?” She said, “No one, Lord.” And Jesus said, “Neither do I condemn you; go, and from now on sin no more.”
No one is without sin and that includes me. Yea, life can be tough, but when it gets tough, God is there to hold onto us and teach us that we cannot do anything on our own. The woman caught in adultery learned that Jesus was there for her.
So did I.
Looking back, at the time I didn’t know that the women who criticized me were the very women who needed me to pray for them. More than likely they were critical because as a child they were heavily criticized. Someone taught them to be critical.
The gift they gave me is that I learned I can do nothing without God. I am clueless about what tomorrow brings.
Yea, this isn’t my first rodeo.
I mean literally…not my first rodeo.
All of it taught me how to pray and rely on God.
Spiritual Practice: Pray
Do you have critical people in your life? Pray for them. Pray that they will turn to God.
In God, Deborah