He (God) Himself has said, “I will not in any way fail you nor give you up nor leave you without support. (I will) not, (I will) not, (I will) not in any degree leave you helpless not forsake nor let (you) down (relax my hold on you)! (Assuredly not!)” Hebrews 13:5 Amplified

Last Sunday, our church celebrated the fulfillment of this amazing promise…and we didn’t even plan it.

As the service began, our pastor’s wife, who is also the choir director, prefaced their anthem by reminding us that it’s five years since our pastor was at death’s door.

He had gone to Minneapolis for surgery—a tricky procedure, but one we weren’t terribly worried about. Tricky procedures are almost commonplace these days.

Almost.

Sadly, this one went awry, leaving our pastor in a coma which lasted nine long days, while we wondered if he would wake up at all, or what he would be like when he did. His family kept vigil at his side while we waited for the email updates and fell on our faces in prayer. How well I remember the day we learned he had opened his eyes, when he talked, when they got him up walking for the first time. It felt like a miracle.

It still does.

For it was a dark time for our congregation, too. Our former pastor had just retired and moved to Choteau to care for his elderly mother. This man was scheduled to take over. Whatever would we do now? We felt helpless–like sheep without a shepherd.

But we were not. God did not fail us or leave us without support. He provided some great pastors to fill in—including one who went on to be our pastor’s fulltime associate. The church pulled together and became closer than we ever had been.

Now, five years later, our pastor stands before us—preaching, teaching, leading as he was called to do. He has even been strong to manage on his own for months at a time. Now, we all rejoice that we have just called a new young pastor, enthusiastic and full of energy, to share the load.

Our pastor has lived to minister among us, celebrate his childrens’ weddings, welcome four grandchildren into the world—including the latest, born just this week. And she was delivered by my own daughter-in-law!

It was, as the French say, “a good moment.”

As the choir sang the song that sustained our pastor’s family during that dark time, we remembered…

And rejoiced.

FATHER GOD: You are faithful. You do, indeed, keep Your promises! You will, indeed, never fail or forsake us. We are, indeed, grateful. What a wonder…and a joy. Amen.

To be published in “Bozeman Daily Chronicle,” February 24, 2019.