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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Authority Figures: Pastors, Reflections

     My keen interest in God and the Bible served to introduce me to quite a number of wonderful pastors and Christian leaders over the years. I have fairly well covered the denominational and nondenominational scope of Christian clergy in my search to know God. I have had good student-teacher relationships with Catholic priests and nuns, Methodist, Lutherans and Presbyterian reverends, as well as pastors from the Baptist, Assemblies of God, Open Bible, Four Square gospel and a number of just Christian fellowships of a variety of unique names. No, I am not a “church hopper”; I just like to learn. I have not left a church because of dis-satisfaction or because there was a split. Sometimes when I moved into a community, the particular denomination I had been attending did not have a church in that community so I went to another one. Normally, I regularly attended Sunday morning service in one church while participating in Bible Studies in two others during the week where friends were studying. Like I said, I just loved to learn!

     The one pastor mentioned in this week’s sad account was my only contact with ungodly behavior in the pastorate. Tragically, many others have suffered serious harm at the hands of those ordained by God to help them learn of His perfect and unconditional love. Books have been written of children sexually abused by fathers who preached in the pulpit the morning after inflicting his lustful pain on them. I can think of no greater injustice to the child or their image of a truly loving Heavenly Father.

     I included this account while sharing my journey in the Tween and Teen years because it is a part of my journey to understand God. Sometimes folks have negative experiences with the church or someone in leadership within that church and they want to toss every part of God out of their lives. This is the real tragedy. The one who hurt them is a fallen, imperfect human being, not the true and living God Who loves them more than they can ever know in this life.

    Yes, this frightening event did occur in my young life at a time I was searching for understanding and knowledge of God. Yes, God could have seen that I never met this man and learned that people, even pastors, have a sin nature that is not always submitted to the Lordship of Jesus in order that it never happen to an innocent child. I would never have wanted to have this experience, nor do I wish it on any little girl or grown woman, but I learned that day to trust that “check in my spirit” the Lord had already placed in my young soul. If something just doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t and I must beware no matter who the person is. I also learned that God was there to protect me from what could have happened. This man still had enough fear of being caught that he fled at the possibility that my mother might be coming soon.

     Oh, it could have been so much worse and I am thankful it wasn’t. Still, I had not escaped without a bruise in my heart towards pastors. I feared those I did not know well, as a result of this encounter. As the years passed and fine men and women had key roles in teaching me and discipling me in the ways of the Lord, that wound buried itself deeper and deeper. I didn’t ever think of this day and never talked to anyone about it. It was over and he was not a part of my universe in any way. I had gotten away unharmed.

     Twenty-seven years later, on the other side of America, the fear erupted inside of me as though this day had just happened!

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