Providence in Spite of Arrogance
The little church I helped form was a mistake. It was born out of a sinful desire to show the elders of the former church that they were wrong. It was born out of the hope that I could rise up and be noticed. It was born out of a heart of rebellion. But it sure didn’t feel that way in the beginning. The reason, as best as I can describe it, is because I was naive in my thinking and theology. I mistook excitement and energy for knowledge and wisdom. Common for young people and that is one of the reasons our Lord gave us elders.
I think of Solomon’s son Rehoboam. In 1 Kings 11:43 Solomon has died and Rehoboam is now king of Israel. Right away in chapter 12 he hears wise counsel from the elders in verse 6, essentially telling him to give the people a break, let them rest and they will follow him forever. Then these fateful words are read in verse 8, “But he forsook the counsel of the elders which they had given him, and consulted with the young men who grew up with him and served him.” The result was that he made the pressures upon the people harder and split the kingdom, losing ten of the twelve tribes.
I was wrong not to listen to the elders of the church. And every time I watch young men at my church wiggle under decisions the elders make I remember my sin. But I serve a sovereign Lord who providentially works even in and through sin. And that is what he did for me.
Grace Bible Church was where I decided that seminary was what I needed to do. It was where I taught adult classes (some of which I am embarrassed over now). It was a place where I could watch up close the workings of a church, good and bad. It was where I was rejected as an elder which made me madder than a hornet since I thought quite highly of myself. As a deacon I was given oversight over the lowliest of responsibilities which made me mad again. But Grace Bible Church was also the place where I preached my very first sermons and where the elders officially recognized the preaching and teaching were gifts given to me by the Spirit.
Kim and I were married now, were told by the pastor to not pursue schooling for one year just to settle into the marriage. And over that time we began to seek God’s direction. We had decided to go to The Master’s College and then The Master’s Seminary but were unsure when we should go. Again God’s providence gave us a nudge.
I worked as the General Manage of Au Bon Pain, a french café, in downtown Houston. The corporation had hired a hot shot out of New York to boost sales. My store was picked to expand and we had plans drawn up. When we met with the city inspector he said that we would have to lose a lot of floor space making it handicap accessible. The hot shot told me to offer a bribe and I refused. A week or so later I was at the headquarters with the other managers for a meeting, where he publicly mocked me and fired me for fake reasons. Nudge number one.
I was heavily involved with the church and had a Sunday School class I taught. I still remember the name of the class, Dispensationalism and Other Strange Words (picture me shaking my head at myself right now). One of my friends in the class asked if I would be offended if her and her husband would attend a new class starting up. Then the rest of the class agreed that they wanted to be in the other class. My teaching time was up. Nudge number two.
The two things keeping me in Houston where gone. God’s providence again was being made plain and Kim and I were headed for Los Angeles. I still remember the directions. I was to turn right onto Voss, go a few blocks to I-10, go left. When I got to I-5 I was to turn right and I was there.