West Franklin Family,
She walked into her apartment after a relaxing vacation and something didn’t seem right. The floor her feet walked on felt different. Soft. Squishy. She didn’t see any water, but knew something was off. Over the next few minutes she discovered a leak in the bathroom. It wasn’t her fault, but it was bad. The leak had obviously sprung soon after she left town. Water had seeped into everything.
She shared this with me the Sunday morning post-vacation. . . while she was preparing coffee for the church at 7:30 am. She served on the praise team an hour and a half later.
That was three weeks ago. She just left my office declaring what a remarkable blessing the leak-that-soaked-everything has been for her.
A month or so prior to the post-vacation leak, she wept in my office confessing to being a self-diagnosed hoarder. She couldn’t stop and needed help. She admitted to barely being able to walk into her apartment and was – to put it mildly – overwhelmed with junk. We talked. I prayed. She shared with a few others. I made a recommendation or two. That was that.
Until she returned from vacation. Now she was forced to do something. She had to tell her landlord what happened. Her landlord would have to see her apartment. She had to ask for help. Something had to be done. Fast.
I wish you could see the text chains on my phone over the last several weeks post-return-from-vacation-water-everywhere-hoarding-confession-clean-up-brigade. She included me on texts to people who committed to helping her through this mess and get her to a good place. The names are West Franklin members. The names include folks from her small group. Men and women from the worship ministry team. Other friends from our church. Deacons. Within days, her “people” had helped her clean up, box up, dry up, throw away, and transport heavy boxes out of her apartment. They prayed. They took meals. They supported. They cheered. They helped with the landlord and insurance. Even now, they are helping her stay at a hotel until she is able to move back in.
The dreaded leak that left the floor squishy turned into, not just a new apartment, but a new life. The dreaded leak led to a wide-spread confession of sin and an admission of help. Soft floors that are supposed to be hard led to a softened heart and an abundance of grace. In other words, the Lord allowed Alesia Painter to experience the goodness and restoration of God. Alesia Painter, who constantly serves and gives herself for the good of others, was forced to let others serve and take care of her. Alesia is seeing firsthand, the church being the church.
West Franklin, I think it’s pretty obvious why I am sharing this story. But let me put the cookies on the bottom shelf. First, confession of sin and struggle is the only way to experience abundant grace and love. Holding on to it out of fear keeps it in the dark. Bringing it out into the light allows the light of Jesus to shine. Second, being involved in a local church works both ways. On the one hand, you get to help others grow and flourish and thrive as a human. On the other hand, it allows others the opportunity to help you. It is never a one-way deal. Third, it is impossible to get help until you make the need known. If no one is aware of the need, they cannot help. But if you know anything about West Franklin, when a need is known – our people are like flies to a vacant paper plate full of food on a picnic table.
Let me add one final thought about Alesia Painter. It is something every single one of us can learn. Alesia has been here since the West Franklin Baptist days. She endured the transition to the Church at West Franklin. She has been beyond active since I have been your pastor. She has experienced wonderful moments at this church. She has been hurt by this church. There are things that have happened she loves. There are things she wish had been different. But she has stayed. She has served. She has loved. She has walked with Jesus and others through circumstances most of us would have fled. She genuinely loves West Franklin and has loved us regardless. I am thrilled beyond words that now West Franklin gets to genuinely love her back, regardless.
The last I checked, that is the definition of salvation.
For God So Loved Us,
Tomorrow morning my Bible will be open to Acts 13:1-4. Pastor Mike Glenn will cast vision for all campuses. I will share a few thoughts about our campus. We will sing, worship, give, and pray.
And, please, mark your calendar’s: Sunday night, October 10th is our Fall Family Gathering. It’s gonna be good!