“Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me.”Psalm 51:10 (KJV)
By Bro. John L. Cash, “Country Preacher Dad”
I’ll tell you a parable today. Once, a man became stranded alone on a desert island. After several years, the Navy came to rescue him. The admiral said to the castaway, “I see that you’ve built three huts here. Why three?” The castaway said, “Well, the first hut is my house. I live in that one. My second hut is my church. I go to that hut and pray on Sunday. And the third hut… well, that’s the church I USED to go to.”
I think most Christians have thought about changing churches at some point in their faith journey. After a period of time, we see imperfections in the pastor and the people of the church where we worship. Pastors, too, become discouraged from time to time and look for greener pastures.
Although a change in congregation sometimes can’t be avoided, we need to think prayerfully and long and hard before we leave the one where God has placed us. I don’t have a lot of inside experience with different congregations because I’ve served the same congregation since I graduated Bible college. But, my sister’s husband, Dr. Ron M. Buck, has served a few congregations over the past quarter-century. Once, when I was having a time of discouragement in my ministry, he told me “John, if God is providing an opportunity, pray about it. But don’t ever change churches just to be changing churches.Every congregation has the same people in it. They just have different names.”
This has proved to be excellent advice. Look a little closer and you’ll see that each congregation has some fine folks: Faithful Fred, Loving Laura, and Patient Pat. Unfortunately, every congregation has Tactless Ted, Discouraging Donna, Irritating Ira and their cohorts. Each congregation has “all the same people,” just with different names.What’s more, “Wherever you go, there you are.” You and I don’t really need to look for a perfect church. Since we’re imperfect, as soon as we arrived at the perfect place, we’d foul things up!
I weathered that storm and stayed put. I’m very glad I did. The Lord has poured out great blessings on me and my family. You see, sometimes we don’t need a change of congregation. We need a change in ourselves. We just need more prayer, more patience, and more love, and the belief that God is using our circumstances to make us more like Him.
The principle holds true in other parts of our lives, also. You may be feeling you need a new house, a new spouse, a new job or a new set of circumstances. But our Heavenly Father may have you exactly where he wants you to be because He often sends trying times to make us grow in faith and patience.
So, dear friends, this week don’t build a new hut. Pray that the Lord will give you a new heart.
Dr. John L. Cash is the “Country Preacher Dad” * Sing that to the tune of “Secret Agent Man.” He was raised in Stuttgart, Arkansas, and is beginning his third decade of being a country preacher in the piney woods five miles south of the little town of Hickory, Mississippi.He and his lovely wife, Susan, and his sons, Spencer (age 17) and Seth (age 14) live in the parsonage next door to the Antioch Christian Church (where he and Dr. Ron Buck once fed the first pancake to the dog). You should drop him a line at firstname.lastname@example.org.