This is a story that was emotional and devastating at the time and it took years to realise the full impact of what had happened, but this is also a story of hope and of God’s sovereignty over all things. I am so grateful that I have been given the opportunity to share my story with you, in hopes that it might be useful for others. -Jodi
The Fruit Tree
I will start by going way back, all the way back to the beginning of 2008. At the time, my husband and I were engaged and were serving in our local church. This was the church that I grew up in and I had been there for nine years or so.
We were leaders of the evening worship team and very invested in the church. We had a vision for what we were hoping to achieve with our worship team. As such, we shared our vision on regular occasions with our minister and were excited to see the team grow around us. We believed in giving the absolute best of ourselves to our congregation and we were striving for excellence in what we did as a team, as well as personally in our leadership roles.
Jump ahead to a Sunday evening service a few months later. We had had an awful practice session. The sound system wasn’t coming out right, the rehearsal went poorly and we just felt that everything was out of control.
During the service, my now husband, then fiance’ felt prompted to share this with the congregation and invited them to lay down their worries and stress with us and to focus on bringing our brokenness to God and offering whatever we had before him. We felt like it was a “Holy Moment” and I could feel the presence of the Holy Spirit in that place of brokenness.
We were getting married in late June of that year and decided to take some time off from leading while we finished preparing for the wedding, and then for about a month afterward while we settled into our new home.
Pruning the Vine
Once we were ready to get back into everyday life, we were asked to be scheduled to lead again, yet our minister said that he wanted to talk to us before anything was decided.
At the end of July, he met with us. That was the day our lives changed. He said that some people in the congregation and on our team had complained about the way we were leading, that we were asking too much of our team and that under no circumstances could we ever share with the church that we were going through a rough time. That since we were in leadership we had to portray an image of security. He said something along the lines of “people don’t come to church to listen to our sad stories.”
During that conversation, we realised that we didn’t want to belong to a church whose leadership put out an image of being OK, when in reality, underneath the surface, things were broken. There is dishonesty when you bring an “image” to a congregation and we felt that we needed to be able to share honestly of ourselves with our church if we were prompted to do so by the Holy Spirit.
The conversation ended with him saying that we couldn’t be in leadership anymore and we decided that we couldn’t attend that church any longer.
It was devastating! This was my childhood church; the church we served at every week. It was our second home because we participated in church activities at least three times a week. It was the church we had gotten married in a month previously and those devastating words had come from the very man who married us. It was like a rug had been pulled out from under our feet and we were standing in a puddle of sinking sand.
For the next five years, we wandered from church to church, homeless and hopeless. We questioned everything we knew. Our faith was broken and we were shaken to the core of our beings. Nothing made sense! We were searching for a church that we could call home but in reality, we were really looking for Jesus.
God, in his Divine Wisdom, led us to a church that was alive with the gospel of Jesus Christ. We found a safe space to recover from the storm that had been raging in our hearts for five years. We found a church that taught us how to forgive and properly let go. And more important than those things, we found a church that helped us to understand the nature of spiritual warfare and why we had just been through the toughest period of our lives.
You see, for us, it was a necessary ending. Bigger missions, riskier steps of faith and a wider vision of the gospel was now open to us in our new home church. Our understanding of the nature of God and who we are in Him has expanded tenfold. All of our pain: it was all an exercise in pruning.
“He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.” -John 15:2
We are fruitful now. We are more alive, more faithful and more spiritually aware than we have ever been. We are part of a body that is alive with the power of Christ. We are leaders in our new church and we are so thankful that God has called us to this church at this time so that we can call it “home”. God not only heals the broken, he restores fully and then adds His Glory so that all the world can see His light.