(I have changed the title because it gave the wrong impression. See Comments. Also linked "the announcement" to This Sunday, which explains the offenses we were posting on this blog and why we were singled out.)
"I stand beside you, lovingly preparing you for what is ahead. .
. [F]ocus on My loving Presence with you. I will equip you as you go,
so that you can handle whatever comes your way. Trust Me to supply what
you need when you need it." (Lamentations 3:22-26; Psalm 34:8) From Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.
Those words from the day's devotional reading steadied me yesterday.
Later in the day God told a couple we know that today would be a
"very difficult" day for us, that there would be "wagging tongues and
mocking spirits, false traps" and that I would feel slugged in the
stomach. They prayed for us, that God would give us love and
So we knew this would be the day.
And with that revelation came the certain knowledge that God wanted us to be
there when the announcement was made. I am SO glad He didn't let me know
any sooner! If you have to get a shot at the doctor's, it's better to
find out at the last minute.
We did have time to notify all our
intercessors and some of them had time to write back, encouraging us and
sharing Scripture passages, which I printed out and took with us to
peek at periodically for courage:
One of my favorites: "Don't panic. I'm with you.
There is no need to fear for I am your God. I'll give you strength.
I'll help you. I'll hold you steady, keep a firm grip on you." Isaiah
41:10 The Message
In an email from friends this morning: "Fear thou not, for I am with you. Be not dismayed, for I am thy God. I
will strengthen thee, yea I will uphold thee with the right hand of my
righteousness." Isa 41:10 "The Angel of the Lord encamps around those
who fear Him and rescues them." Ps 34:7 "Have I not commanded thee?
Be strong and of good courage. Do not be afraid; neither be thou
dismayed; for the LORD thy God is with you whithersoever thou goest."
Joshua 1:9 King James
As the service started, I was mentally rehearsing Psalm 100:6, "The LORD is
good, His love is eternal and His faithfulness endures through all
generations" when that very verse was read from the pulpit! Thank you, Jesus!
When the service ended, when I thought we had been mistaken and nothing would be said--and was wishing it would be so we could get it over with--Pastor Lou announced that there would be
a break so all non-members could leave. There would be a
"short announcement" afterwards. We knew what that meant. My hand, in Jerry's, was clammy.
God brought back to my mind Rita Wignall's timely phone call the
day before yesterday. She reminded me, "Just like the
apostles and disciples before us, we will be targeted. Because He has given people
free will, the enemy will use them to attack us until His kingdom comes.
"But we're going to be proven
right--for all eternity. For a few years, people will think we're
crazy. But He will give us crowns!"
I sensed Jesus reminding me that He is sovereign, that this is His world, His church, and His battle. He had allowed
religious leaders to crucify Him, had let their plan play out, let them think
they had won. He told me not to be afraid, that Jerry and I could both go sit
right down in front for the announcement, that He would welcome us there with crowns.
So, as some people walked
up the aisle, we walked down and sat in the front pew, right below the
Steely, Chairman of the elder board Carl LaBarbera
made the announcement: "Jessica Renshaw with the support of her
husband Jerry Renshaw have sinned and need to repent." He kept referring to me first--a deliberate slap in my face, Jerry said afterward. LaBarbera called on church members to be involved in the "reconciliation process" by persuading us and praying for us to repent. The other eight
elders, some of whom we count as personal friends, were not involved. I am so grateful.
When it was all over a friend slipped into my hand a hand-written copy of Psalm 34:18, "The LORD is close to the
brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit."
God is good.