Saturday, August 10, 2013

The Jeremiah Burden, Part Seven

Chains of Sin by KingPaton:
  The Religious thing is one mean taskmaster.  First, it binds up, rather than loosening chains.  Second, it works really well with Condemnation and Guilt.  So the poor person who's caught in the cycle of Religion is bound themselves and yet constantly feels guilty for not being bound up more.   I guess Matthew 23:4-7 sums it up best:  
     “Instead of giving you God’s Law as food and drink by which you can banquet on God, they package it in bundles of rules, loading you down like pack animals. They seem to take pleasure in watching you stagger under these loads, and wouldn’t think of lifting a finger to help... They love to sit at the head table at church dinners, basking in the most prominent positions, preening in the radiance of public flattery, receiving honorary degrees, and getting called ‘Doctor’ and ‘Reverend.’"

 You gotta feel bad for folks who walk in that lifestyle!  Really, that isn't how Jesus lived.  That isn't a life of "righteousness, peace and joy in the Holy Spirit!" 

Jesus was incredibly free; ripping on the hypocrites one moment, playing with children the next.  One minute he's messing with his friends' minds by overloading their boat with fish, the next He's weeping over a sinful city that didn't receive Him.  He didn't care about what the religious thought.  He did what His Father said.  Ah, man.  I want to be free like Him.  

  Do you know, every time I push the "Publish" button on this blog, I still have to push aside Religious lies?  Guilt tries to creep in.  I start worrying over my motives.  I have to consciously remind myself that I am writing because the Lord told me, "It's time, Christina. I want you to put your story down."  
My sweet daughter
  So, here we go again...

  I met with Joan Shoeman in April.  So much had transpired since we set the date, that, to be honest, I was dreading meeting with her. 

 I didn't bring the church situation up at all, but kept to lighter subjects.  Finally, since I wasn't saying anything, Joan said, "So, how are you feeling about things with Crossway now?  Are you doing better?"

  "I think I feel a new resolve," I answered.  "I have a better understanding now of the situation we're up against and the kind of men we're dealing with."

  She didn't like the last part of my comment, but I kept going:  "We're looking for other jobs for Daniel.  We will be leaving, so although I've loved this house, I've laid it on the altar, so too speak, and am okay with losing it."

  "Well, if you're not interested in building with us, than of course, you should find where you want to be," Joan said, a little shortly.

  "It is not that we didn't want to.  We felt called here by the Lord and we were really excited about that calling.  But over and over it has been made abundantly clear that we are not wanted at Crossway.  I've actually been attending a different church for a month now."

Joan hadn't known this and asked where I was attending, pursing her lips when I told her where.  She again mentioned how important it was to be patient and let God do things in His timing.

  "Yes," I answered.  "I know that is what you and Tim advised us.  But then I remembered something else God showed me long ago. He told me, 'I would never call you to stay in a place of abuse.' This experience with Crossway has been incredibly painful to me and my family.  And although we have tried to communicate that, and I think we've done well expressing it, no one seems to care."

Joan shrugged this off.  "You know, you really need to try to put yourself in other people's shoes.  Try to see how it is for the people who have been here a long time."

I nodded.  "Yes, I understand.  I've actually been asking God what it is that we have been facing here, because I have been so puzzled about how my fellow Christians can justify their actions.  I happened to be reading about George Washington when he took over the Continental Army.  He was shocked at the terrible condition it was in.  He found that the officials and underlings both had come from the same small towns.  They had eaten together, raised kids together, drunk beer together.  So when there were violations, the officers would not correct the men.  The book said, 'they wouldn't cut across old relationships in order to enforce discipline'."

  For the first time, Joan seemed to be really listening.

  "I can walk in others' shoes," I continued.  "I understand how it would be hard to grow up here and have long-standing relationships.  You've prayed together with these people, gone on mission trips with them, seen them through good and bad times.  When a new person arrives, your tendency is to stand by your old friends.   And it's hard to correct them when they're out of line.  However, I also remember having issues in my own family where I had to draw boundaries.  It was very painful to me, because I love my family.  But I did it because it was the right thing to do."

  "Is there something I can pray for you about?" Joan asked.  

My son, picking dandelions
  I looked over at my son.  "Yes.  Thank you.  You can pray for my children.  Daniel and I have tried to keep things from them, but my son is very sensitive and this season has affected him greatly."  

  I started to weep as I said this.  My son looked up from his craft and said in a mournful voice, "Mommy's sad."

  "No, no, Buddy.  Mommy's okay," I said, wiping my tears away quickly.  

  "I have to take make a call because I'm going to be late to another appointment, but I'll finish up and come back to pray for you," Joan said.  

 If someone offers to pray for you, the normal reaction, I think, is to be appreciative that someone cares to do so.  But I had time to think as Joan talked on the phone.  I realized I didn't want her to pray for me.  I didn't trust how she would pray and prayer is a powerful thing.  I wasn't trying to hurt her, but when she came back, I stood up to meet her.

  "I so appreciate you wanting to pray for me, Joan.  I'm not trying to offend you.  But I am in a very fragile place right now.  My family has been betrayed and hurt.  I am going to ask that you not pray for me, though again, please understand I am not trying to offend in any way."

  Joan was floored.  "You don't want me to pray for you?"  

  "Prayer is such an intimate thing," I tried to explain.  "And right now, my family and I are having a hard time trusting.  I'm sure you understand.  There's already been a lot of talk taking place behind closed doors about us.  Though I am okay with you sharing this conversation with your husband, I would ask that you keep it to yourselves."

   Around this time, Pastor Marv and his wife Kay arrived from Colorado to visit.  Of course, they were from this region and so were in the approved crowd.  Even though Marv had managed to pull the Colorado campus away from the Network, it seemed he was still very admired and respected.  Perhaps more so, now.  There was a get-together with the campus pastors and him.  I admit, I wondered with suspicion what exactly would be said there.  

  It's important to note that Daniel had received absolutely no "disciplinary write-ups", no "written warnings".  Although he did not agree with many of the media decisions being made by the pastors, and he would share his concerns (the lords of the manor must be warned if there's a drop-off ahead), he would still do everything asked of him.  However, he knew he was considered a liability by the pastors.  Chase Bowler had entered Daniel's office and berated him publicly in front of the volunteers Daniel was trying to train up, and every unpleasant comment card about video or media by any audience member at any campus was used as another subtle whip.  Still, the only actual reproof was the one already mentioned:  Daniel was considered "disrespectful".  Perhaps this had something to do with the time that he had closed a meeting (involving Gavin and Chase) with prayer on his own initiative.  Early on at Crossway, Daniel had been disturbed with the fact that in pastoral meetings, behind closed doors, no one ever prayed.  So, once, he had. 

  Then there was yet another meeting with Daniel and Pastors Gavin and Chase.  In this meeting, the tone had strangely changed.  Both pastors were taking copious notes anytime Daniel said anything.  Pastor Gavin had on his "friendly face".

"We want to work with you, Daniel.  We want to patch it up."

Daniel's response was grave:  "Not trying to offend here, but I don't trust either of you.  You have systematically taken all my job responsibilities away and all I'm left to do is wonder when you're going to actually fire me."

Pastor Gavin was still friendly.  "Well, how can we help make it work?"

Daniel tried to explain once again.  "The problem I have is that you aren't willing to actually do anything required to patch it up.  You will say everything that is right and appropriate but you have never actually dealt with anything that I have told you about.  Let's just make it impersonal for a moment.  You don't really want a media director.  You want a video lackey.  Every time I have acted in my role as a media director, I have been seen as 'insubordinate'.  My job description says (x,y,z).  To the best of my ability, that is what I have been doing here."
Gavin:  "You keep referring to your job description.  Why do you keep referring to that?"

Daniel:  "Because my job description is the only contractual basis for our working relationship."

Gavin:  "Well, let's redefine this job description so that it works for everyone.

Daniel:  "I'm not interested in redefining it.  This is what I was hired to do.  My contract stipulates that it is not to be changed unless both parties agree to it.  You folks have already violated that numerous times already."

Gavin:  "So, it sounds like this isn't going to work."

Daniel:  "No, it doesn't."

Gavin:  "Well, then it sounds like we know where things are going.  Let's wait a few weeks, see how things go, not do anything too fast, make sure we're not overstepping God, and then we'll make a plan of action for moving forward."

The meeting was over.

Link to The Jeremiah Burden, Part Eight

To be continued...unless mentioned, all names have been changed except my husband's and my own.  I write for healing and for others wounded on similar journeys.

No comments:

Post a Comment