The stories are all the same.
A leader in the church leaves his family behind, his faith in shambles, his flock confused and wandering. I've read the articles and the headlines and I always am sad and hurt and confused. But from a distance.
This weekend, the truth of a fallen soldier hit home.
Our pastor announced that he no longer believes in the God of the Bible and also that he was having an affair and leaving his wife for another woman who is also married.
The amount of emotion this left me with was inexplainable. The weight, the tears, the anger, the sadness. I ache for his family, for the other woman and her family, for him. For our church. For the explanation I had to offer my own children.
My heart is grieved. Our hearts are grieved, all of us who called our pastor friend and teacher.
The question that has been asked a lot is, "What now?"
What DO you do when you pastor fails? When he walks away from everything to which he's spent years encouraging his sheep to cling? When he abandons his family, his friends, and his God?
As my fallen pastor always said, it is to the Scriptures we cling and find our hope. When Jesus wanted to explain to us the deep truths of the universe, he did it through story.
He told the story of the one lost sheep and how the Shepherd would leave the flock and go bring back the one who strayed. He told the story of the prodigal son and how his Father held out hope and showered love upon his return.
Then he walked on water. He was carried into a tomb and walked out three days later.
He showed us that the laws of this world are His.
So to these things we cling:
1. We remain patient. Our Good Shepherd will never leave His sheep astray. If our pastor belongs to the Lord, He will bring Him home.
2. We love the victims in this tragedy disguised as decisions. They are victims, but they are not casualties. They are children of God, His righteous remnant, and they will be restored. We love them. We love them unconditionally and in whatever way we have been gifted to love.
3. We do not doubt the truth we have been taught. For years, our pastor taught the Bible. He no longer believes the truth that fell from his lips, but truth it was and truth is remains. We never doubt the ability of God to deliver a message.
4. We spend time in the Word. His Word is a lamp unto our feet, a light unto our path, the Flesh that dwelt among us, a sword in the hands of His people. We never stop reading. We never stop running after the heart of our God, the Good Shepherd, the One who will never leave or forsake us.
5. We pray. We pray without ceasing for the lost, the broken, the weary, His church, His will, His people.
And in these things, in these truths, we stand firm. With our heads held high, we pray without ceasing that the glory of God may be manifest even in this. That His Word would be exalted, His will clear, His place on the throne evident to all Who call upon His name.
And upon His name we call.
"Even the youths shall faint and be weary,
And the young men shall utterly fall,
But those who wait on the Lord
Shall renew their strength;
They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
They shall run and not be weary,
They shall walk and not faint."
For His glory,