Soooooo, the stats of readers on that last post went wayyyyyy up. That leads me to believe that many want to read what I have to say here about being out. Many are as frustrated as I was and want to step out but are afraid. Many just love and support me. I see you and love you back. It’s all good. Thanks for reading. Again, the reason for writing this is simply because I am untangling myself from any and all assumptions about my life and this ministry that God has called us to steward, Rivers of Eden.
I am going to write as the Holy Spirit leads my thoughts. It will not be in a linear fashion from Point A years ago all the way to now, like a timeline. It will be in a circular rhythm of grace. Think about it. Didn’t Jesus walk like that? Let me explain. Some people and situations entered my ‘space’ over these past thirteen years and made a great big impact on my life, changing me and transforming me. Other things were part of the process and if I write about everything, it would simply be too long and boring, cluttered with details. I want to challenge your passion here to follow Jesus with all of your heart. He will make a way for you to move. Where? Where He leads you.
We left our church in April of 2000. I believe it was April, but it was 2000. We were not sent out and it was a bit tense at the time for many of us. People did not understand our decision. One dear pastor actually cautioned us against backsliding. He was so concerned for us and said this to us with unconditional love. Thanks Pastor Small. You are smiling down from heaven right now. You and I both know, Marvin and I are still on fire, following the Lord with our whole heart. No backsliding here.
The first few years out, we consistently met with people in our home to worship, pray and study the Word. I will call those years, My Journey Into Recovery from My Addiction – Religion. It took me about 5 years to be weaned out of the control of religion and performance based addiction to it. For Marvin, it seemed to be easier because it never controlled Him. He had no problem leaving the church. I said I didn’t but I surely did in truth. For me, I derived my identity from being in church, serving in church, being a good girl in church, going to church for every prayer meeting, attending every cutting edge conference, and the list goes on and on.
When there was suddenly nowhere to go on Sunday, I was like an addict suffering from withdrawals. You may think I am being funny here but I am not. You can ask my husband. Each Sunday would come around and I would feel so guilty and so shamed because I was not in church. I ended up so tense every weekend that this good Christian girl would pick an argument whenever the opportunity arose just to feel right about something. Can I tell you what I did?
Okay, I will. I will end with this story. Over those first few years of being OUT, I would often encourage Marvin just to visit some churches to get a fix on Sundays. Doubt was deep within me about the decision to leave. I really was miserable. He would shrug his shoulders and agree. He knows me so well that He knew what was going to happen after the service. We would go through the service – you know, greetings, 3 or 4 worship songs, announcements, another worship song while the offering is taken, the message and some prayer at the altar. In the best of cases, there was ministry of healing and deliverance to the people but that was not the norm but the exception.
As we left the building and got in our car, silence penetrated the atmosphere. I waited for him to talk. But he is no fool my husband. He just sat and waited for he knew what was going to happen. Then the explosion occurred. I went on for the whole ride home about the condition of the church we just visited. (Please realize I am not looking for the perfect church. It does not exist. My story, remember? No judgment here, okay? Follow this journey. J)
I may have been right in my observations about those churches, but I had no right to judge any of it. It’s God’s job to build His church. My job was to follow Him where He was taking me, not looking to the right or the left. Yet, please know, that with most, not all, of the churches we visited over and over we saw man’s control, the wisdom of the world being employed to build the church, no flow of the Spirit in prophecy or words of knowledge, and a whole lot of programs. This is reality, not judgment. After my tirade, I got quiet realizing I could not go back -at least until the next Sunday when guilt and shame hit again and this scene repeated itself for those few years. I had a lot to learn. God had a lot to teach me.