Back when I was pastoring a smaller church, we only had one secretary. When she went to lunch, we just forwarded the church phone to my cell phone.
People would dial the church and I answered, “Hello First Baptist.”
They assumed I was at the desk, but I might be in Dallas, or Denton, or Ft. Worth visiting hospitals.
“Bill could you run down to the Children’s class and see if I left my lesson?”
“I’d love to but I’m in Ft. Worth.”
Then one day it all went wrong.
A young woman phoned. She was obviously shaken. Her husband had kicked her out of the house and she needed a ride to a nearby town. She could stay there with her mother, but she didn’t have any transportation and her mother’s car was down. Could we help her get to her mother’s home?
I was out of town talking to her on the cell phone. She of course assumed I was in the office. I asked, “Where are you right now?”
“Pleasant View area,” she replied.
“How long have you been there?”
She started to answer when the battery on the cell phone suddenly died. Right in mid-sentence.
Oh no. She’s going to think I just got tired of listening and hung up.
From her point of view the church had rejected her cry for help. She might have even thought God was rejecting her. That thought horrified me. I was stuck. The woman on the other end of the line never told me her name or her phone number. I had no idea who she was and no way to find out.
Sure enough, when I got the phone recharged there was an angry message, “You call yourself Christian but I wouldn’t hang up on a person in need.” Maybe for the rest of her life she thinks the church and the Lord let her down.
I wanted to tell her, “I didn’t hang up, the battery died.” But I couldn’t. I was trapped in a misunderstanding.
I hate that, but it happens. Maybe it’s happened to you, and there’s nothing you can do except learn from it.
Remember how it feels when you are tempted to question someone else’s actions and motives. Give them the benefit of the doubt. Then forget it and go on.
Here’s the beauty of Jesus. Even when people misunderstand you, He never does.
(1 Samuel 16:7) …for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.”