Passing Along the Verse

I used to be a youth pastor. I loved being a youth pastor. In my heart, I could have done it for another few decades. The pastors of the churches I was working for, however, had another idea. They wanted me to plant their youth groups into a church for all ages. I didn’t think it up, nor did I particularly want to do it. I began a year of prayer and inner turmoil over whether or not I should move forward with their crazy idea. During that year, someone from outside this group of pastors found out that the church plant was a possibility. Without talking to me or any of the other pastors, the man assumed I was doing this on my own. He then proceeded to send out messages to over 150 churches in the area that I was a “cult leader.” Don’t you love some church people! In response to the accusations against me, a set of meetings took place which culminated in one huge public meeting where all six pastors told their people that it was, in fact, their idea to plant a church. As a result of this turmoil, I was deeply hurt and didn’t know how to react to the person who was disparaging my name far and wide. I dealt with the stress by developing an ulcer. Maybe not the most godly, worry-free response, but I am still growing in my faith. One evening, during this season in my life, I was finishing up supper when the phone rang. It was a woman named Jane. She was at a retreat I had spoken at over a year earlier. It was fun to talk to her again. She had no idea what I was going through, but after some small talk, she admitted that there was a reason for her call. She was praying for several people and then I came to her mind, so she prayed for me. Then a verse came to her mind. She took the risk to phone me up and shared it with me. She said wasn’t sure if it would help but she read this over the phone, “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you (Matt. 5:11-12).” I don’t think I have ever cried that much while holding onto a phone. “Just what I needed” would be a massive understatement. Decades later, I still wonder at small miracles like these. I wonder at the depths of meanness of Christians to each other. I wonder at the heart of God who saw and cared enough to move one of His servants. I wonder at Jane’s risk-taking to phone up and share a verse with someone, even though she wasn’t sure. I just wonder at the love and care of God to set His love in motion through ordinary people. God fill me with prayers for other people. Help me to be “alert” in my prayers (Col 4:2) to your ideas and give me the boldness to risk sharing your heart.

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