This is a marathon, not a sprint. It doesn’t end quickly. It’s painful. You never know when you will turn the corner and finally see the finish line, but you must keep going. You can’t stop. There are people to care for, scars to bandage, hurts to soothe, fears to calm. When you most feel the need for a break because of your own exhaustion you have to continue the work, pray for God’s strength, and care for the sheep.
Scars take time to heal, especially deep ones. Trust takes time to be restored, especially when it’s been betrayed so badly. Respect takes time to earn back, even though it was someone else who betrayed it. But we ask anyway, “how long will this take?” There is no way of knowing how long it will take before this is just an entry in the history of your church, but it will take time. I think of a passage of scripture that talks about this change,
Exo 1:8 A new king came to power in Egypt who didn’t know Joseph.
Recently I got to see this transition begin to happen. I was talking with one our church family who brought up the pastor’s name, and one of our new members asked, “who are you talking about?” Then I realized, we are near the end of this….new people coming into our church family who aren’t wounded, “who don’t know about our Joseph.” That was a great promise of hope for me, a promise of a body of believers who don’t know all that we have been through and haven’t been wounded by the earthquake we went through.
Now, many more are coming into our church family with no idea of our past. I’m glad for that, and gradually the scars are healing, the past is forgotten, and we are changing. After your earthquake your church will change. There is no way to avoid that. You will change pastors, you will change people, you will change identity….but be aware of this one thing…you will change.
It will take time, it will be hard, it will be painful….but keep going. Time will bring about a day when some new person in your church family will ask, “who are you talking about?” Then you will know you are near the end, the finish line is right around the corner. No matter how long it takes keep going, care for your people, love them, be faithful….there is hope ahead. For you see the great shepherd, the great pastor of the church, Jesus Christ, is in charge of your church and he will see you through.