This page is an extended answer to a letter on another page, Difficult Questions:  Authority in the Church.  The reader may wish to refer to that page for a better understanding of the background of this one.  This is the answer page.  To begin, here is a quote from that letter.

After a great deal of praying, we still hadn't had any clear direction from God about whether or not to take this opportunity.  To make a long story short--we decided to take the offer.  To make it even shorter--the whole deal ended up pretty badly to where we are now going to be leaving that church in June.  We now realize we got ahead of God, misinterpreting his silence as permission to do what we wanted.

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  As an aside, I would not discount your failed experience at the other church.  It is often the case that God sends us to do something that isn't going to work.  Jeremiah had the miserable task of telling Jerusalem that Babylon was coming to punish them for their wickedness, and he wound up in more jails than America's Most Wanted.  I recall that Dave Wilkerson originally went to New York because he felt God wanted him to share the gospel with a group of gang members on trial for murder.  His first day was terrible--he was ousted from the court house, and photographed by the press, painted as some religious nut.  It was not too long after that that he met his first real gang members on the street, who had seen his photo on the front page of the papers, and figured that if the police didn't like him he must be on their side.  That was where his ministry really began.  In your wife's case, there may be many reasons why God might have wanted her to go there.  It may be that she needed to learn something; it may be that that church needed to learn something from her.  It might be that somehow as she leaves she will stir something in those people which will begin to awaken them, even if it doesn't happen for a long time.  It might be only that God wanted to tell that church that He was going to try one more time, and if they didn't listen He would leave them alone.  I don't mean that she should not leave now; this, too, could be part of the direction.  I don't know whether you've read my page on objective and subjective Christian guidance (it might be helpful to do so if you haven't), but one thing that comes out is that the degree of certainty we have going into something is commensurate with the amount of trouble God expects us to tolerate when we're there.  It would follow from that that if He wanted you to go there but didn't want you to stay, He would give you very little confirmation of that direction before you went.  Why did God send Agabus to tell Paul what Paul already knew, that he was going to be arrested in Jerusalem?  Because Paul was going to spend three years in jail, and had to know before he went in that this was where he was supposed to be.  If God had made it crystal clear to your wife that she belonged at this other church, would she be leaving now, or would she be holding on to that divine guidance received not so long ago?  Don't count it as a mistake.  It looks from the outside like God knew what He was doing--you've had some impact on that other church which you cannot easily measure, and coming back to your old church you combine the advantage of established roots in the congregation with the advantage of not having been in the middle of the controversy they faced.  Being gone during that time may have prepared your wife to be a healing influence for wounds that have not been recognized here.  She did not take sides during the disagreement, nor did she have to refuse to take sides, so no one is upset either by the choice she made or by her failure to stand up for one side or the other.  I'd say God did a pretty smart thing.

  Again, I hope this helps.

--M. J. Young
  Check out Multiverser

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