About 10 years ago the wife and I Pastored a small church in Kentucky, were there for about a year and a half, and went through a lot of different trials in our faith. We started from scratch and really never had more than about 10 or 15 people on a good Sunday. Some people we knew didn’t quite say it, but we felt them saying within themselves criticisms and judgments. But we knew we heard God and that it was His will, yet no real growth. But we kept pressing through. Did we get discouraged? Yes. Did we continue going on. Yes, but it wasn’t easy.
As I look back and really dissect things, I can see God’s hand and favor on us not for church growth, but for Spiritual growth in us. Yes we saw miracles and salvation, but I really believe we were there to learn and grow our faith. Part of the growing though was frustration. Sometimes, my faith was like a child trying to walk, reaching for someone to take my hand, only to wobble, cry, and just before I fell down, God’s hand would steady me and pull me up. I’m not saying I walk perfectly now. I still stumble occasionally. But I walk a whole lot better than when I started.
That time in Kentucky was boot camp for me, and boot camp is never enjoyable. But when the battles get fierce, our lives depend upon that training, and everything we trained for becomes second nature. Our defense and offense tactics become quick and automatic. I can get up and shake the dust off a lot quicker than I used to now, and I can remember that when something doesn’t go my way and I get discouraged, that the same One who trained me to walk, is the same One training me to run.
Elder Steve Smith