Leaving the church

by the Night Writer

Allow me to interrupt the travelogue blog in order to describe a different kind of route that will long live in my memory.

Yesterday was an emotional and bittersweet day for me at church, but before I tell you why let me first tell you about a particular Sunday some 10 years ago. My eldest daughter, the Mall Diva, had been called up to the front of the church for some reason that I can no longer remember. She was about 10 then and as I watched her walk across the dais I suddenly felt as if I were in a large bubble while everything around me was in fuzzy, slow motion except for her. Then I “heard” God say, gently – but in a message that gripped my chest – “You will not have her for long for I have need of her even when she is young” and then my senses went back to normal. In that pellucid moment, however, I absorbed that this wasn’t meant to be scary but merely advance notice so that I (and perhaps the Mall Diva) could be prepared when the time came.

I don’t remember anything else from that service as my mind was focused on trying to decide whether or not what I thought had just happened had really taken place. Had my mind or my enemy dredged up some buried fear to torment me? No, while it wasn’t a message I could initially embrace with open arms, it wasn’t a scary one. Accepting that, my mind then tried to speculate on just what kind of plan God had in mind; I pictured her perhaps being a global evangelist or famous in some way – such are the weaknesses of the flesh and the limits of human understanding. As the years passed I still remembered that moment and a part of me still hoped that it wasn’t true and that she would be with us for a long time to come.

She first came to church with us when she was six days old, on a Wednesday night when the prophet Bernard Jordan was speaking. Since then it has been her home and we watched her grow up in the various children’s ministries and pageants, attending Vacation Bible School and later serving as a volunteer VBS helper, joining and singing in the band, planting and growing her own faith and conviction rather than just coasting along on those of her parents. And from time to time I would remember the word and the moment that had once come to me, and I would wonder anew what it could have meant.

Yesterday she again sang with the band, even soloing on one song as her husband, Ben, harmonized beside her and my eyes clouded because it was the last Sunday that she would be a part of this immediate body, her lifelong church. Next week she goes to Alexandria to visit her in-laws and the week after that her husband begins his pastoral internship at a church in Savage, MN. She will go with him, taking all she has been filled with in answer to the call on both of their lives, perhaps even the one foretold to me.

I know it’s not unusual for children these days to leave the church where they were raised, though most of them may view it as an escape and not as a commission. All her life, however, she has changed people’s lives everywhere she has gone, and I am sure that she will continue to do so and that that is the reason for her going. It would be lovely if she could stay and continue to worship with us, but also selfish on my part to want it to be so. Greatly we have received, and as a result, greatly we give. It will be strange, however, when she is not there, especially for me who’s own membership in our church is scarcely longer than her own. But as I watched her sing yesterday I remembered all the things she has done here, and I remembered that word that I received, and I remembered the very first time she came to church and how she and her mother and I were called to stand before the prophet and I recalled the words that he spoke. Part of the message we received that night was as follows:

“And this child, oh man, is going to be the one that is going to strengthen your faith, to cause you to see the miraculous provision of your God. You’ve wondered in the past, “Where is God?” You have seen me work, says the Lord. But it is just the beginning, because the days of the miraculous are taking forth in your lives.”

Mission accomplished.

6 thoughts on “Leaving the church

  1. Leaving the church maybe; but not the Body of Christ. It still must be a good feeling knowing that she has stayed on that narrow path, and that she carries the lamp that keeps her on the path. Ben will have to let us know when he’ll do any preaching, we’ll plan a visit.

  2. I’m excited for this new adventure, but I wasn’t quite ready for this chapter to be over, or for your mission to be accomplished. And now I’m all sniffly. Thanks a lot, Dad.

  3. I didn’t mean that my mission was accomplished – only that what Bernard Jordan had said about the affect you were going to have on my life came true.

    Here’s a Kleenex…

  4. Ahhh, another chapter begins. She (they) walk with prayers, hope, love, committment, and unspeakable joy as they advance the kingdom of God. John, you are a FAITHful Father and your words of love blessed me!

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