Originally posted November 21, 2016
Today marks the day that 6 months of unemployment came to a close as I signed an offer for employment. It is a relief. It is an answer to prayer. It is amazing I am in any sane state of mind! Really, it is God's grace to me and my family. But this is not even the culmination of God's grace and kindness to us, it is rather another mark of His goodness to us during an incredibly trying time. In complete candor, I have been rather silent as to what happened leading up to this point, or why we had to leave a church ministry for many reasons - most being concern and care for the people we left behind. Sure, I could have at any number of times let out a tirade of facts and occurrences that would have been true and exposed the terrible things that were done to us, but what good would that really do, apart from appeasing my own vengeful desires? It would have felt great for a little while, but ultimately I would know that justice and especially reparations to those who have wronged me are best left in the hands of God. But because we left without saying anything, there were inevitably questions left unanswered - we left a worship and children's ministry that was going somewhere and growing, we left only weeks after my little girl was born into this world. It did not make sense to many people and I have to say I understand why. We had to leave a lot of things unsaid, many questions left to guess work and even assumptions. I don't even imagine what those assumptions would have been, all I know is that it was hard enough to look some of the sweet older ladies in the church in the face and try to answer when they asked me, "But why?".
So after all the silence, I would like to say something. Believe me, all this time I have thought and prayed and meditated over what I would say and how I could say it. So here is my ambition - I have no intention of smearing anyone or any ministry. We (my family and I) love the people we served and pray for those who we had to face and even endure in our final days there. Rather, my intent is to draw attention to God's grace to us through this time. It is no mistake that our daughter is named Grace. While I recently discovered the first female Kilcup to arrive in the New World was a Grace, it had nothing to do with that (I only found that out months after her birth). It had everything to do with God's kind hand guiding and sustaining us through one of the most taxing, emotionally and spiritually draining and otherwise degrading times in our life. Before resigning and since, our life has been marked by God's great grace, and so the name was inescapable as we thought of what we would call this awesome life He trusted to us. So here are some of the ways that God's grace has sustained and allowed us to flourish during this time, here are the ways that God's kindness to us overshadowed the cruelty of man:
When man continued to level accusations and pick apart my actions and motives, God gave me security in Him alone and granted me sleep and peace amid some of the most intense and enduring turmoil.
When each week found me looking into faces that had predetermined truth for me, faces set against the welfare of my family, God gave me a new little baby-girl face to look into as well as the faces of my wife and son.
When my integrity was being called into question because I would not go along with the running narrative, God brought along wise, biblically sound counselors from all walks of life who drew me into anchoring my thoughts and choices in God's word.
When I was told that my wife could no longer "serve in the public eye", because of false accusations brought against her, and because of the fear of man, God put songs in our hearts and long car rides to express those songs.
When I looked across a table and was called a liar to my face, God reassured my heart with truth about myself and the entire situation at large.
When people went out of their way to find fault with me and my wife, God protected our reputation all the way.
When my heart could not have been wearier or more worn out from the persistent stream of attacks, despite my best efforts at peace, God gave rest to my soul and sleep to my body - either in bed at night or through some of our travels.
When those who vowed to stand by me betrayed my trust and used personal information spoken in confidence against me, God gave me true friends who stood by my family, spoke truth into our broken hearts, and drew our hope and security back to Jesus.
When we found ourselves walking on eggshells lest any movement or action become reinterpreted and used as a weapon to use against us, God gave us family and friends to go to and find solace, comfort and security in the middle of the storm.
Through all of this, God remained faithful. I have never expected man to stand by me the way that God stands by me, but we have experienced some of those betrayals and heartbreaks that are all too common among young men and women who engage in Christian ministry. And here's the thing - while I have watched many of those young men and women, many who I schooled with back in the day, leave ministry altogether and never look back, I can't do that. God's call on my life transcends what I feel, and certainly transcends the sin of man, because that kind of includes all of us, including me.
We have been through some rough stuff, but I have to say that since the separation from that situation, God has only blessed our family. He is rooting out the sin and brokenness in our life, our children and marriage, and drawing us into a fellowship that is biblically and spiritually healing. I refuse to fire back at the accusations that were unjustly made of myself and my bride. Though it infuriated me and drove me crazy (mess with a guys wife and see how that goes), I am called to something greater - a life devoted to God. So when He says that the vengeance, the justice, the reparations are all His, that's where I go with all those feelings. Even in my resignation address, I chose not to lie, even if that got me in "more trouble", because truth is truth. It was not merely God leading us on, but rather a distressing and heart breaking set of events that culminated in choosing to leave over causing any kind of division or war within that particular body of Christ.
Since then, God has shown fit to keep us in this Valley that we love, at least for now. Our hearts are always looking for where He will send us, even the foreign field, and Lord willing, that will happen some day. But for now, during this time of healing, we are very glad to be here. There are still so many people that we love and serve around here, people we have met since, and people we have known throughout this whole thing. Yeah, we love the mountains, we love this area for its beauty and the way the creation around us calls to us of our Creator, but really it has everything to do with what God has designed for us.
So I count my blessings, and I lose count every time. God has provided for our needs months after the severance ran out, He has provided relationships where others fell apart, and even strengthened those sweet relationships we already had. God has aligned us in schools and life situations that are caring for our kids needs in ways we didn't even know we needed.
I could go on and on. I could crash your computer or phone just numbering the ways that God's grace has triumphed (once again) over any designs of man. God is quite sovereign enough, quite in control, that the devices and schemes of man can never overcome what He has set in motion. I may falter, fall and fail, but God is nothing like that. He has truly been my rock.
Now when you see those photos we put up of that cute little squish-face, don't just see a cute baby whose cheeks you want to pinch, see the truth behind her name. See God's grace, lived out and experienced by this little family. See the greatness of the One who has sustained us and allowed us all to flourish far beyond what we could ever deem possible.