After one of our elders told us the church in Acts no longer exists, I experienced a temporary moment of crisis. Heading back to the car, I tried to keep myself from combusting before shutting the door behind me. Pointing to my Bible, the words fell out of my mouth in rapid succession, “If the church in this no longer exists then what the f*** are we doing?”
It wasn’t a rhetorical question. My husband and I sat in the car, in silence, for quite a while. We faced one another, but our eyes never met. Looking back, Jamie was probably afraid to say anything for fear it might push me over the edge. He gave me a look I would become very familiar with over the next five years, but one I haven’t seen in a while. (Not because I’ve backed away from the edge… more likely, because he’s joined me on that narrow strip.)
I remember staring out the car window, drawn back to reality by the fog of my breath and the numbing of my fingertips. I remember a burning sensation building in my eyes as my sight became blurred. I remember the blurriness fading momentarily as the tears, slowly, one-by-one, fell down my face. But the blurred vision returned and stayed for a while. So did the tears. It was the first time I remember feeling duped by the church, but it wouldn’t be the last. Not by a LONG shot. But, at the risk of splitting hairs, it wasn’t the church… it was the leadership IN the church… also a commonality in our story. In many people’s stories we’re finding. It took me a while to direct my hurt, anger, and criticism at the right place, to do it in a healthy way. But here’s the truth: I LOVE the church, the bride of Christ. My affections run deep and I will fight for her until I take my final breath. This is one of the reasons why we’re going on the road.
A few days later, when I was able to string more than a few words together on the subject without raising my voice, we sat back down to talk. We faced a fork in the road and a decision had to be made. If the examples laid before us in the book of Acts were simply fantastic narrative and not holy instructions, then our lives were a lie. And if we were living a lie, then I wanted no part of it anymore. There were no tears, most likely because the well was completely dry. I felt defeated, resolved to absolutely nothing, except this tugging at my soul that maybe… just maybe… the elder of our church was wrong. (He TOTALLY was, by the way.) That day, I prayed in a way I had never prayed before. It was a frank, one-way conversation with God: I needed to know if the Acts church was dead and if it wasn’t, He needed to show me. I soon found out my prayer wasn’t a one-sided conversation after all. God answered… and He asked us to help plant a church in Rhode Island.