When I left my husband two years ago, I moved myself and our two girls an hour away to a smaller town of about 25,000 people. The first church we attended was what I would call a “mega” church–they have 4 services comprised of about 300-400 people. Even though I joined a Bible study and got to know a handful of women, I never saw them on Sundays. There were simply too many people. As a single woman, I grew tired of coming to church and sitting alone, Sunday after Sunday, and leaving with no one really noticing whether I was there or not. The pastor had no idea who I was, and was not one to stand in the foyer greeting people before or after the services. He would simply show up on stage, preach, and be gone again.
After two years of that, I decided I needed more intimacy. I needed a church where I could know people, and be known. So I went on my search. Sunday after Sunday I would try out churches, and I began to feel like Goldilocks. This one was too small, the next one was too big, and the one after that was just plain weird. Finally, I found one that was just right. I can’t tell you why it was just right, but, like Goldilocks, as I sat there in church that first Sunday, I felt comfortable and at home. And then something happened that sealed the deal. After the service, I was standing and talking to a couple of women who had been sitting near me, and I heard someone say to me, “You’re Jillian’s mom!” I looked up, and there was the dad of Emma, the goalie on Jillian’s soccer team last year. How nice to have someone recognize me!
The pastor wasn’t even there that first week, so my decision wasn’t based on him, but when I returned the next time, he was, and he made a point of getting to know my name. By my third visit to the church, I was ready to jump in with both feet into membership–and considering that I had never joined the previous mega church, this was saying something. That very Sunday, I attended the first of the meetings for people considering membership. All was going nicely…
A couple of days ago, I received a phone call from Pastor Steve. He was holding a meeting in his home about baptism and wanted me to attend. He had remembered that during the first membership meeting, when he asked who had been baptized, and how, I had said that I had been sprinkled as a young child. He said that they are a New Testament church, and he wanted to talk to me and others about immersion. He wasn’t going to pressure us; he just wanted to tell us his thoughts and feelings about it. I could feel my blood pressure rising. Me, being baptized in front of the church? My hair soaked, my makeup streaming? Whoa…I wasn’t prepared for that. He sensed my reluctance, and tried to make me more comfortable. Finally, I agreed to go to the meeting at his house.
Since that conversation, I’ve turned it over in my mind many times. Here I am, wanting intimacy in a church, and boy, did I get it in a hurry! Even more than that, I see that God is giving me a pastor who wants to gently lead me, and my first instinct is to push back. Yet I have craved the leadership of a godly man in my life for many years. God is now giving it to me, and I’m getting the sweats.
I can feel Him smiling, and saying, “Gwenn, if you can’t let your pastor lead you, how will you allow your future husband to lead you?” True. It’s a trust thing, once again. If I feel that this pastor is led by God–and I really do–then I have to trust that he has been given the authority and the wisdom to lead his flock. Even if it entails being drenched in front of the church. (I know I’m thinking all about the water and not at all about the sacrament of baptism. I’ll get there…)
As women, we want strong, godly men in our lives–on our terms. We want them to be our heroes, but not necessarily our leaders. We want them to open our car doors, but not urge us through doors we haven’t chosen on our own. But God has designed men to lead–gently–and women were designed to follow. God has designed men to protect women, and designed women to crave that protection. And I truly do…but I need to submit, and therein lies the rub.
I think we need to realize that godly men are fewer and fewer in this world, and when a godly man is placed in our lives to lead us, we must praise and thank God, and be open to his authority and wisdom. He is a rare jewel, a gift from the Most High. And when God gives us our heart’s desire, even if it’s more than we expected, we must realize that He knows the true needs of our hearts, not just those that lie on the surface.
Praise Him who gives us more than our heart’s desire.