We served in Crockett from 1988 to 1993. Only 5 years. But it is incredible how deeply that 5 years impacted us. I made deep friendships there. When we occasionally go back, there are 3 guys in particular that are such good friends that when we see each other, it's like we just pick up from the last time.
I wish I had mentioned to the church yesterday about an "ah-ha" I have had. When I was in Crockett as a young, wet-behind-the-ears preacher, there was another preacher in town who was mean, who did not mind slandering people in public -- but who claimed to be the protector of "the truth." He made all kinds of false accusations about me, and I must admit that it really bothered me then. His tag line was, "Do I make you mine enemy because I tell you the truth?"
At that time, I was also a legalist -- thinking that what was REALLY important was what we did during our hour of worship each week, church organization, etc. It's just that my legalism and his were a little different.
Here is my point: Many in Crockett still feel badly for the way he treated me. But I have come to see that it is one of the most important events in my spiritual journey. I was headed down a path in which I could have ended up being somewhat like him. I don't think I could have ever been as mean and dishonest as he was -- but I could have been as "zealous" in my misplaced gospel. But seeing him and how UNLIKE Christ he was brought me to a crossroads. It made me realize that what the gospel is about is not those things that I had made of primary importance. The gospel is about a loving God extending His unbelievable grace to me. It's about me being allowed to journey with Him through life -- allowing Him to complete His work of transformation in me. To what goal? To become like Jesus. To be filled with the fruit of the Spirit -- love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Qualities that are amazingly absent in the lives of people who pursue legalism.
God works in mysterious, unexpected ways to get our attention. And looking back on those times, I am SO glad He got mine.