I am with you always, even to the end of the age. – Jesus
(This is written by my wife, Lynette Chambers)
Like many of your life stories, my journey has been one down a broken trail. Up until 1999, I had a pretty uneventful life. I was married to a pastor with three wonderful boys. I lived in Denver where I grew up, with all of my immediate family nearby. Life was pretty good. However, in the fall of 1999, because of the sinful choices of my husband, my marriage was in crisis and my husband resigned his church. (If you want to read his story click here )
Heartbroken and confused, I asked God what I should do. I asked, “Lord, should I forgive him? Should we stay married? My heart was filled with such mixed emotions! I wanted to work on our marriage, but at the same time, I was so hurt that I didn’t want to be with him. Here is what God said to me, “Whether you leave him or forgive him, I will be with you and bless you.” I decided against bitterness and chose instead to forgive and work toward restoration.
We made a move to Washington in November of that year. My brother-in law’s little church in Sumner, WA, opened their arms and hearts to us. They used the money they were raising to build a new building and paid for our move and counseling for a year. They raised some more money to pay for our oldest son to attend a Christian high school. They gave Joe a job tearing down a condemned house next door to the church for $10.00 an hour.
They loved us back to life as a couple and family. It was a very hard year, yet God was faithful in restoring our marriage and mending our family.
When each of our three sons turned about thirteen years of age, Joe shared with them his story. Asking each of them to forgive him. They each responded in their own unique ways. All very forgiving. I want to share with you how one of our sons responded.
Joe took our youngest son, Caleb, backpacking and while they were in the wilderness, he told him his story of failure and repentance.
Whey they got home from the wilderness, I was getting ready for them when I heard them drive up and come in the front door. Caleb came into the bathroom where I was curling my hair and said, “Mom, I need to tell you something.”
“Okay,” I said. Continuing to curl my hair.
“Mom put the curling iron down and look at me,” Caleb insisted.
I put the iron down and turned to him.
“Mom, I just wanted to say thank you for forgiving Dad and saving our family.”
I felt the presence of God in that moment. God was with me.
Our life from that point was never the same. God gave me a husband and a relationship like we never had in the 20 years prior. My oldest son married the girl he met in that little church in Sumner when he was just 14, and now we have four beautiful grandchildren. And now Caleb and Mindy have a baby on the way. God gave me a wonderful job at Cascade Christian School where all three of our sons were able to attend. He gave us loving and supportive friends and provided for us for 7 years.
Then, after seven years away from ministry, God gave Joe an opportunity to serve the Church again. God led us to a small church plant in Mukilteo, WA, first as a supply preacher over the course of a few years where we quickly grew to love the people, then later as executive pastor.
I was overjoyed for my husband, but at the same time, (because I am a person who does not like change) I did not want to go. After all, I had a wonderful job that I loved very much. Great teachers and dear friends I had grown to love …I just did not want to start all over again. But again, I had a choice to make. Do I dig in my heels in and stay in where we were with my secure job, or do we take a leap of faith and trust God with this new venture and begin working in ministry again? Either way, I was confident of His presence.
Well, again, we made the choice to trust God and dive into yet another new beginning.
Little did we know that within a year, the lead pastor would resign and move on to another church, and this church would consider my husband to be their next pastor. We had a wonderful ministry in Washington, then God called us to again make another move. This time back to our home state of Colorado and to our wonderful congregation here at Mountain Heights Baptist Church.
Throughout our journey, I have learned that God is a God of restoration, faithfulness, and grace. He doesn’t promise us it will be easy, as many of you well know, but he promises never to leave us and that if we will trust him, he will give us what we could never imagine.
Throughout this time, the verse that gave me a lot of hope was Jeremiah 29:11:
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I have been confused, hurt and scared in my life, but because Jesus promised to never leave me, I know that he can take what we mess up and use it for his good. So, if you are struggling with forgiveness, I highly recommend it. I have never regretted my decision to forgive and am proof that he can take that choice and honor it, restoring a broken life and using it to fulfill His purpose.