“Pastor, we just want to let you in on this before others hear about it. Julie and I are getting a divorce.”
Pastor Howard replaced the receiver with a shaky hand after that stunning announcement from the president of his congregation. His first reaction concerned the effect this would have on his church members. How would they respond to another Christian leader caught up in public failure? Oh, yes, he knew that all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God. But just last month the Pastor in a neighboring parish was led to resign his position due to infidelity. And now this.
His second thought was even more distressing. What kind of a pastor am I that a man I work with so closely does not have a strong enough relationship with Jesus to withstand the desires of his flesh or the arrows of Satan or the pressures of the world….or all three for that matter? How have I failed this man?
From experience he knew that by the time a couple like this came to tell him of their marital woes it was too late for counseling. One or both of their hearts had already become hardened to God’s word. Of course, he could not rule out God’s power to heal such a breach, but his instincts told him that at least one of these two was not seeking healing, but escape.
As he thought about the members of his congregation he felt despair. Are they all just a bunch of Sunday morning Christians? And, really, was he any better? Perhaps it was time for him to resign. Not because of infidelity to his wife, but just being unfaithful to his office. It had to be his fault as much as anyone’s. After all, he was the spiritual leader, and just look where this couple ended up. Some leader he was.
Falling to his knees, something he had been doing a lot lately, Pastor Robert Howard poured out his soul to the Lord:
“May my cry come before you oh, Lord; give me understanding according to your word. Ps119; 169
“If you, O Lord, kept a record of sins, O Lord, who could stand? But with you there is forgiveness; therefore you are feared.” Ps 130:4
And received comfort:
“For the Lord watches over the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish.” Ps.1:6
“The righteous will flourish like a palm tree; they will grow like a cedar in Lebanon. planted in the house of the Lord, they will flourish in the courts of our God.” Ps. 92:12
“I have told you these things so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” John 16:33
A steady flow of scripture verses entered his heart in answer to his call for help. Humbled, yet comforted, Pastor Howard took out his Bible with the dog-eared cover, and read Psalm 91:1 and following, the 911 psalm as it has been called.
“Lord, just make me your servant,” he whispered.
Wiping away the tears, Pastor Robert Howard, only one of many faithful pastors, returned to his Bible, studying God’s word in preparation for a church council meeting that night.
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