As you know if you’ve visited me here before, I come from a very conservative Mennonite background. I grew up on the Plains. My great-grandfather arrived on the prairie as an infant, riding with his family in a covered wagon. My roots are there on the Plains.
I spent summer nights on Grandpa’s farm, playing Kick the Can and Grey Wolf with a passel of cousins. Such good times. Treasured memories, and I’m smiling as I think about it. A rich part of my childhood.
For all the fun I had with my cousins and friends, my inner world was tormented. (I have written about this before, so I won’t detail it again.) It took years to sort things out, and along the way, there came a point where my husband and I chose to leave the churches of our childhoods. (And let me note clearly here: we did not leave God or our faith. We simply left our plain churches. There is a difference.)
Looking back, one of the greatest gifts my home church gave me as a child was a strong Bible memory program. I had no idea as I was working hard, learning Ps. 119 and many other passages in exchange for gift certificates at the local Christian bookstore; had no idea of the treasure I was storing up. I had no real notion of the lifelong impact it would have on me. For there is not a day that goes by, not one, but that a verse comes to mind, and it’s always just what I need. The seed was planted, and the Holy Spirit has been faithful to me and has caused the seed to grow and bear fruit. I am truly grateful.
Over the years, I have come to see that it was the intensity of my torment that drove me. It drove me to seek God for myself. To learn once and for all just Who He was and what He thought of me. I sought after Him with my whole heart and with all my might, and I can tell you today that when God says, “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart,” He means it. The peace and joy and rest I have are indescribable. Even this Words Girl struggles to articulate her happiness.
While I am no longer plain, I do still care about “my people.” I can see that a storm has broken upon their shores, and as painful and awful and terrible as it is, it is time.
It is time for perversions to be uncovered. It is time for sexual abuse to be exposed. It is time for the darkness that has lurked and preyed for generations to be brought into the light.
It is time.
For years, we thought that “the world” was out there, but now we are seeing that “the world” is in here. It’s among us. It’s in our pews.
For years, we thought that being “in the world, but not of it,” meant that we were above the law somehow. While living under the law, we were, yet, above the law. But we aren’t, and that reality is harsh and cold.
For years, we thought that our religion made us safe. That all men of God could be trusted simply because they claimed His name. And for years, too many of the trusting were victimized.
For years, we thought that covering the body in certain, prescribed ways would prevent lust, but it only hid it better. In doing so, we agreed in an odd and unexpected way with other religions, like the Muslims. Also, in this doing, we promulgated shame and agreed with “the world” that bodies are shameful and dangerous. These sanctuaries of God, “shameful.” Ah, Lord. Have mercy.
Ah, yes! Mercy.
Mercy, I have learned, can come in the severest of packages. The ripping off of a Band-Aid to cut, excise and clear an infection is a severe mercy. It hurts. The re-breaking of a bone to set it straight is a mercy. The needle that stings when removing a splinter; that is a mercy, too.
“It is not God’s will that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” In this one sentence lies God’s heart. It is naught but the mercy of God that calls us and draws us to Him. In this great mercy, He gives us many, many chances to turn (that’s repent). Many; far more than we deserve.
God’s holiness and His mercy are divinely balanced. He does allow us to choose, and if we consistently choose to turn a deaf ear, a blind eye, to harden our hearts, His mercy will become severe. And that is how revival can start.
If the exposure of rampant sexual abuse in our churches will bring revival, then bring it. If it makes us uncomfortable, no matter. Still, bring it. If God, in mercy, is giving us another chance, we need to listen. To turn, repent, and obey.
God, have mercy upon us as we seek You with all of our hearts. And let righteousness rain down. Amen.