Dangerous Prayers (Part 2) – CMN Women

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Dangerous Prayers (Part 2)

by Becky Swartzendruber
 

I have a tendency to pray dangerous prayers, and my husband often jokes that I should just stop praying. When we planted the church, I prayed that God would show me how to love people like He does. Boy howdy, that one has been a doozy.

That prayer may be one of the most dangerous prayers I’ve ever prayed.

In the two years since we planted, we have had people spread crazy rumors about us, had a church swoop in and buy the building we were renting out from under us, and had someone close to us betray us. The rumors and untruths were emotionally hurtful, and the building situation has been really hard to not become bitter about. However, of these three situations, the betrayal has taught us the most about loving others the way God loves them.

Last year we met a young man who desperately needed Christ’s love. He was 25 and a severe alcoholic – among other things. We started mentoring him, and he got clean and became really involved in church. Through this, Christ was healing his relationship with his daughter.

Our first “opportunity” to love him like God does came when he borrowed and wrecked our church trailer because he was drunk. The grace we showed him during this situation lead him to make the decision to get clean. Several months later, he and my husband went into business together in the farming and ranching industry.

In May, my husband noticed that his paycheck and the paychecks to their employees were bouncing. Upon further investigation, we discovered this young man, who we had even provided a place to stay on our property, had been stealing money from the company account. When we confronted him, he disappeared and left us with the company debt.

We were devastated as we don’t take a salary from our plant because, frankly, the church can’t afford it. So this left us with no income and a mountain of debt. My husband applied for many jobs and wound up having to go back to the oilfield. He is gone for two weeks and then home for one. Thankfully, he makes enough to start digging us out of debt, but it has left me to run our ministry alone. It also leaves me to take care of our children and everything else alone. In all honesty, I feel like giving up pretty much everyday. I don’t though, because even if I have one person showing up to church it’s worth it.

I’m not going to lie, it took me a while to forgive this young man. We have not seen or heard from him since we found out what he had done, but, in the end, God is still in control. I have absolutely no idea what our future looks like. (That is super hard for me, FYI). However, through this heartache, I am learning more than ever to trust God, even if we can’t see His plan. I know He isn’t done with us yet and that this is just a season. I am learning more and more that it isn’t about what I or my husband wants for our ministry, but what God wants, even if we have no idea what that is right now.

Jesus understood betrayal as Judas kissed his cheek, and he understands us as we deal with the pain this young man caused. Learning to love those who have hurt you is most definitely the ultimate way to love people like God does. It’s not pretty, and it downright sucks. But, in the end, it’s not all about me anyway. It’s about changed lives.

Thank you, God, for answering my dangerous prayers. Help me to keep loving like you do. Amen.


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Becky Swartzendruber is a pastor's wife at The Venue church in Levelland, Texas.

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