Nestled in the valley, hidden among the pines, lay the tiny town. Passer-bys on this old country road would never know she was there if it were not for the cross of the church steeple reflecting the sun from its evergreen perch.
Linda usually enjoyed the drive through the green rolling hills but today going home was bittersweet.
Linda remembered the first time the shimmering steel had caught her eye. Beckoning to her with its sparkle of hope, a desire was birthed in her to discover what was at the foot of the cross. She was drawn into the tiny town by a power greater than herself. Hearing the gospel preached under the glow of that cross, Linda surrendered her life to Jesus Christ.
When was the turning point from joy to mourning?
Linda was welcomed into the small, closely-knit church “family” with open arms but soon the separation began to manifest. There was an underlying competitive spirit that strove against any threat of change.
She accepted the call to help clean the church as an honor. The other ladies handed Linda a mop, sent her to scrub the floors and then closed the door in her face. Hearing the fellowship of their laughter in the separate wing of the building sent a surge of rejection through her.
Being the fifth wheel so to speak among the four other church ladies was lonely but bearable. Linda accepted the fact that she was not a part of their clique. She found rest in her friendship with Jesus.
When the false accusations started flying Linda’s shield of faith took a beating. Approaching her accuser to plead her innocence was like striking her head against a brick wall. She was painfully not getting anywhere.
The issue was taken to the pastor and Linda’s frustration over the self-righteous innuendos poured forth. Linda’s reaction was far from godly as she angrily rushed to defend herself.
“I have known this woman for twenty years and she has never lied to me,” the pastor said, raising his eyebrows at her impropriety. Linda took a deep breath. She had never lied to him either but that was not the issue.
The complaints against her had come from overzealous discernment practiced in the flesh rather than the Spirit. Her innermost thoughts shared in confidence had turned into a “what did she really mean by that” interrogation. The accusations hurled against her were based on feelings rather than facts. Even the accuser’s dreams were treated as “thus saith the Lord.”
Walking away willing to forgive was challenging but when the allegations kept repeating with the same unjust outcome Linda’s heart began to grow weary. The theme that sustained her as she learned to control her temper became, “He was oppressed and he was afflicted, yet he did not open his mouth (Isaiah 53:7 - NASB).”
Linda eased her foot from the gas pedal, cringing at the thought of returning to this town.
“Lord Jesus, you have brought me to this place but I’m having a difficult time submitting to the authority you have placed over me. I am being falsely accused. You know I have been willing to do all that has been asked of me. What should I do?”
Presenting her case before this holy Judge, the verdict came down.
“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ;
“Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;
“With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men;
“Knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free.
“And, ye masters, do the same things unto them, forbearing threatening: knowing that your Master also is in heaven; neither is there respect of persons with him (Ephesians 6:5-9 KJV)."
Coasting downhill into the tiny town Linda felt like she was flying. “You are not a respecter of persons,” she whispered to her Lord as she wiped the tears from her eyes.
As if seeing the cross and its meaning for the first time, Linda’s heart was strengthened. It had never looked so beautiful.
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