by Angelia Crane
In 2021 God asked me if I would be vulnerable. That was the word and question for me. I was raised in extreme legalism and that word was never used. How do I share my heart in vulnerability?
Here is just a small portion of my heart that was filled with disobedience for a season. God has healed what I thought was a mistake and as He did, He turned it into a blessing. I want to share with you today a small portion of my story.
It was an early morning on a fall day when I got up after a season in battle for my life in ICU for twelve days. Before that experience, we had gone through a harsh battle in ministry that was very challenging and hurtful.
After a few months out of the hospital and away from the battle of a major church split, on that fall morning, I stood with a list of things to do for the day still on my mind. I turned to my husband and said out of a heart of pain, “I know people can be imperfect because we are all human. I can see how people we pastor can be deceived and cause divisions due to their own blindness. But I am mad!!! I want to know where God is in all of this.”
Have you ever been through a thing that has rocked you to your core and exposed things in your heart that caused you to question God?
After all, Jeremiah 29:11 NIV says He knows the plans He has for us:
“’For I know the plans I have for you,’ declares the LORD, ‘plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.’”
It was during that day after a season of struggle in my own heart that I had to go pick up a rental car in Springfield for a pastors’ conference in Texas. I pulled out of the driveway with the new car and flipped the radio on. What happened next rocked my world.
I had distanced myself away from God because, frankly, I was really hurt by God's ultimate power to control the outcome of my life, after He had allowed church people to hurt us. I felt like He was the bully. I was mad at God!!
Yes, everyone gasped together…. “She was mad at God. What?”
I told my husband during this season of grieving that I have always been the good girl and if I am His child and He really is my Abba Father, He will love me when I am mad at Him. I didn't pray as much! I read the Bible less! I listened to more jazz music, watched more Hallmark, and just had a negative outlook toward ministry. But the weird thing was, I had a positive outlook towards my own life. I had such a conflicting heart issue through this. I really struggled to navigate the real grace of God through that season. Believe it or not: I found out God does love us unconditionally. He was teaching me a great lesson that I needed to go through. He was teaching me how to get unstuck in grief. He was also teaching me the rest of the scripture in Jeremiah 29:12,13 NIV:
“For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future”—His part--"Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart”--my part.
How am I supposed to seek God when I am mad at Him? But, yet how do I navigate a church wound without Him? There is nothing more that I hate than wasting time on ungrateful people. My time is valuable and so is yours. But how do we change our perspective from us to the Father?
Hebrews 6:10 NIV “God is not unfair. He will not forget how hard you have worked for him and how you have shown your love for him by helping his people, as you continue to do.”
Time, grieving, and reaching out for help.
I made up my mind I was not going to be bitter in ministry. It was not easy. I turned that same anger toward my husband, and it just kept creeping into all areas of my life. I could literally see the bitterness growing like weeds choking out the blessing of God. Not because of Him but because of my perspective. I had to have his help. So here is what happened the day after grieving for a year.
Remember when I told you I got a rental car?
Here is the rest of the story. I asked my husband that morning, “Where is God in all of this?” I left that parking lot and turned on the radio. The radio was tuned to a Christian Station. And this is what it said, “So you want to know where God is in all of this? God never said it would be easy.” Then the man on the radio continued to talk about Paul and how he faced all the trials in his ministry. Then he said something that humbled me and healed me at the same time. “God never said ministry would be easy but, He did say….IT WILL BE WORTH IT!” That broke me. All my anger melted. Not to say I didn't struggle a little through the grieving as a pastor who was rejected, betrayed, abandoned, and used. I was healed and I did forgive God in my heart. I now have a better understanding outside of grief and PTSD! I am now in love with God more than ever. I think He saw this all along. I am so grateful.
Guest blogger Angelia Crane and her husband Anthony began full-time ministry in 1991 and have been in missions or pastoral ministry for over 25 years.
In 2006 they established a ministry to rural pastors and their wives called Tour of Life. They provide retreats, helps, refreshing, and connection to ministry leaders. Tour of Life recently built the first phase of a Pastoral Media center/retreat in Ozark, MO.
Tour of Life is partnered with Pastoral Care Inc. For more information, see their Website or Facebook page.
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