Tuesday, August 15, 2006

To Those Left Behind

Wow! As I look up at that title, I wonder what you may be thinking is actually on my mind today. No, I don't have an inside scoop on the second coming...however, two churches that I deeply care about have departing pastors this week. My good friend, Wayne Wilson, should be arriving in North Carolina any time now in his U-Haul. He just had his last Sunday at Sunnycrest Baptist in Marion...my old stomping grounds. Another friend, Wayne Shoemaker, will have his last Sunday with us here at Alta Loma this weekend.

I know the statement has been made here, and I'm sure someone has uttered it there in Northeast Central Indiana... "What are we going to do now?" This pair of Waynes were great men and integral parts of the churches they served. Wayne Wilson, through his incredible heart for the Lord, was used by God to help give that congregation permission to be more expressive and to seek more personal, daily worship of the Lord instead of only thinking of Sunday as "the day of worship." Wayne Shoemaker, with his amazing servant's heart, was used by God to help this church stay the course through some rough waters during his eight years. In all of it, he served as an example of how to meet needs with compassion and how to minister in grace and truth.

So, this question (i.e.- What are we going to do now?) seems to be the logical one to ask. It certainly comes from a good place. It comes from hearts that recognize the work of God through His servants in His church for His glory. It comes from hearts that see the vital roles that certain individuals play in kingdom work. So, the question is understandable...those that are "left behind" will miss the kind of godliness, leadership, and friendship they found in those who served them. What a great testimony of the faithfulness of this "pair of Waynes"! We praise the Lord for their ministries.

Now, to those left behind, I want you to know that you have not been left "high and dry". You are not stranded in a sea of hopelessness because God has moved His servants to new assignments. In Acts 13, Saul and Barnabas were sent out from the church at Antioch because of what "the Holy Spirit said." Because I know Wayne and Wayne, I believe their moves have been prompted by the Spirit as well. That's where most of the focus usually is...on the ones leaving. However, the Spirit that called them to go is the same Spirit that raised Christ from the dead, and He is the same Spirit that abides with the church of the Lord Jesus Christ. So, we are not abandoned to hopelessness when a friend/pastor leaves our congregation to serve the Lord somewhere else. We may experience a sense of loss because our fellowship changes, but it would be a different story if we lost the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. That would be the real tragedy!

So, be encouraged if you are left behind. God has not left nor forsaken you. He has not stopped building His church because His ministers have been moved. Stay steady in the times of transition...it is in these times that you and I will be most tempted toward discouragement, fear, and unbelief. King Solomon wrote, "Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding. In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight." (Proverbs 3:5-6) To those who are left behind, follow the royal advice.