Some years ago I was in mental and emotional anguish. Someone I had loved and trusted, someone I had even gone out of my way repeatedly to bless and honor publicly — my own pastor — betrayed me. First he refused to meet with me when I sought his counsel. Then he refused to return phone calls when my husband Steve reached out to him on our behalf, requesting a meeting. Then when we finally left the church, he stalked us, chasing down our new pastor to turn him against us, asking:
“How well do you reaaally know these people?”
His diabolic scheme worked.
His audience of one — our new “shepherd” — listened to his maligning testimony, lapping up every word against my character without even attempting to seek other witnesses — an action which stands in direct violation against the biblical mandate forbidding that any accusation leveled against another be accepted as fact without first hearing corroborating testimony from at least one or two additional witnesses.
“One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.” ~ Deuteronomy 19:15
No such witnesses were ever sought.
Instead, after calling me on the carpet, my new so-called “shepherd,” proceeded to tell me how wanting my character was. Then my husband and I were told there was no place for us in the fellowship. We could *attend* if we wanted. But forget joining. That was OUT. Church membership was closed to us. They didn’t want “my kind” there.
Needless to say, I was devastated. We had already invested nine months of our lives in this new church home, getting to know other members of the fold. In fact, Steve and I were already busy serving there. And so happy to do so.
Now suddenly we were kicked out on the street — church homeless — based on the testimony of one man with an ax to grind.
The trauma this event brought about in my life is impossible to articulate.
How well I remember one morning trying to enter into praise and worship before the Lord, finally realizing I simply couldn’t. I couldn’t. My spirit was so crushed, I couldn’t even worship the Lord. I finally broke down in tears.
“The spirit of a man can endure his sickness,
But a broken spirit who can bear?”
~ New American Standard 1977
This went on for weeks.
Then one night…oh bless God…
One night, as I slept, the Lord rescued me. He sent me an angel! I saw her…seated behind a veil. A thin dark veil. Like a curtain that hung between us. There she was. And I watched and I listened as she spoke these words to me:
“Don’t worry. WE know who you are….WE know…..DON’T WORRY.”
Heaven knew! HEAVEN knew! Hallelujah! I wasn’t left without my own witnesses after all! All the company of Heaven saw every single thing that had happened to me! They knew me. Knew my heart. Knew the slander that had been perpetrated against me.
And now, just when I was inconsolable because my reputation had been destroyed by the accuser, the Lord sent help from heaven! He sent His own angelic messenger to me to let me know with absolute assurance:
Though on earth men may smear me, though on earth I might be looked down upon as dirt beneath another’s feet, this one thing I could rely upon:
I had the affirmation of Heaven.
And that, friends, was the beginning of healing. For what more could one hope for? The Lord alone is the Final Judge in all controversy. He has the last word. There are no “hung juries” in heaven. God not only knows the truth, He knows the precise condition of every man’s heart. Thus He, and He alone, is able to judge righteously.
Whereby we are able to proclaim with joyful, healing confidence:
“If GOD be for us, who can be against us?” ~Romans 8:31b
God sent His word — and He healed me! Then, and now. Glory to His Name!
And so, beloved…I want to encourage you.
If you have never experienced anything like this, then bless God, you have been spared.
But if you have shared my experience…
If you have been falsely accused…if your reputation has been decimated by a false brother or sister or, as in my case, a false shepherd…if you have experienced anguish of soul and mental and emotional torment because of the lies of an enemy who was once your friend…
You are not alone. HEAVEN KNOWS. And God will heal your broken heart…if you let Him.
Ours is simply to forgive from the heart, and let God do the rest. Some say, no, we only have to forgive those who come to us asking for forgiveness. But, oh my, I think that is a very slippery slope to walk on, and I would rather know that I am clean before God in my heart toward any or all who have sought my harm, than to hold a grudge or live in bitterness of soul separating me from my heavenly Father.
No, beloved, we must forgive, for as Jesus Himself said:
“For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”
~ Matthew 6:14-15
Sobering words, to be sure.
So let us forgive our enemies, dear one. Every single one. Let us forgive from the heart.
Then, having forgiven — let us rejoice! REJOICE! And hold firm within our hearts the sure knowledge that no matter what man may do to you, no matter what the world thinks of you, if you have the affirmation of heaven, nothing else matters.
Psalm 107:20: “He sent his word, and healed them, and delivered them from their destructions.” KJV
Romans 12:19: “Dearly beloved avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” KJV
Romans 8:31b: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” KJV
Matthew 5:11-12: “Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake. Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.” KJV