PRAISE GOD! Mike and I are now official members of Covenant Life Church. We attended our first care group a few weeks ago, and one of the couples had us over for dinner on the following Friday night, where we played “Settlers of Catan” – which is pretty much the coolest game ever.
In our membership interview, our Pastor (his name is Eric Sheffer, but he goes by “Shef”) asked us questions about our understanding of the gospel, how it applies to our daily lives, how we both came to know Christ, and other questions like that. Much of the discussion led naturally to stories of Four Oaks and the Pastors there. We told Shef about how Four Oaks used Sovereign Grace Ministries small group bible study materials (Sovereign Grace was “born” out of Covenant Life), and how that informed much of our decision not only to move to DC (vs. Atlanta) but also to attend Covenant Life once we got here (though that process was interrupted… but that’s another (long) story…). In fact, we told how Josh Hughes boldly and gently exhorted us to consider not just finances and career paths, but also the availability of a good church in any prospective new hometown. So Covenant Life, and DC by association, was kind of a no-brainer.
Shef said something to us in the interview – several times, in fact – that hit me in a really profound way. He said (something like) “It’s evident that the two of you have been poured into, and that your pastors in Tallahassee were faithful in leading you in grace.” He said he was so grateful for our Pastors in Florida who had so clearly invested in us, and led us in sound doctrine and authentic faith and passion for God.
Now, let me be clear: this moment could have been a perfect opportunity for pride. I could have thought, easily, “Wow, he’s right. Mike and I are super-Christians. Covenant Life Church is soooo lucky to have us.” See how twisted we can be? Ok, ok… see how twisted I can be??
I laugh as I write that, because I have had moments before that aren’t too far removed from that attitude.
But, by the grace of God, and as evidence of the work He has done in our lives through our faithful Pastors, I didn’t think that. Instead, I was humbled even more and thought “Wow. Shef is right. How little I deserve God’s saving grace, and even more to be led by such faithful Pastors as Erik, Scott, Josh, John, and Paul.” (Those are the Four Oaks Pastors with whom we had relationships – Josh most of all.)
Having done some church hopping up here for a little while (it’s amazing how long 6 days feels when you can’t wait for the next Sunday to come so you can try a new church in hopes that it will be “the one,” only to be disappointed again and go another 6 days feeling spiritually hungry), it’s clear that not all Pastors are of the same caliber of those I have had the honor of serving and loving.
I guess I just want to say that the Pastors at Four Oaks are humble servants of Christ. They invest in their flock with a tenacity that doesn’t make sense to unbelievers. In fact, I’d venture a guess that they sometimes wonder themselves how they continue to persevere as they lead a stubborn people in glorifying God.
Thank you, Four Oaks Pastors (especially Josh, our Fellowship Group leader!) for serving us honestly, humbly, and transparently. Thank you for investing in Mike and me with Biblical teaching and leadership, and following God’s call on your lives so that Mike and I (and all the others you serve and lead) might be equipped to be in this world, but not of it.
Mike and I miss you guys and pray for you (almost) daily. 🙂