It’s third-hand already so the details may be fuzzy, but I believe the main point is clear. My dear friend and fellow writer Margaret P. Toews shared with me this story of an elderly minister in their congregation some fifty or sixty years ago and the victory he won.
On this particular evening the minister was sitting in his living room reading through his diaries. During all the years of his ministry he’d kept a diary of the church work he’d been involved in and now he was looking for the record of past visits with a certain couple.
A family that once was part of his congregation was accusing the ministers of not acting in love and Christian charity. Years before, this couple — young parents then — had accepted some false teachings and tried to promote them in the brotherhood. Of course the ministry was concerned and had discussed this with them, then admonished them, encouraging them to seriously consider what impact this teaching would have on their children, where would this all end up.
The couple persisted in their thinking in spite of many visits and discussions of scriptures; finally they were asked by the church to repent. They went away in a huff, choosing to fellowship with another group who saw things in the same light. The couple resented the way they’d been treated and blamed the ministry: told others how the ministers had acted in a heavy-handed way, barely listening to their points. As tends to happen, the more they rehashed the tale the more out-of-joint their nose grew.
This minister in particular was singled out as being at fault and his name often came up in their complaining to all and sundry. As the couple’s children grew up, they took up the bitter lament. Other members of the congregation were influenced by the mud-slinging and became critical of their staff for their handling of this situation.
Now here in several of his diaries he found the records of the many visits they’d made to the couple, the scriptures they’d discussed, how they’d encouraged and prayed with them and for them. Here was his vindication; he could read these notes to certain folks who were still frowning over the issue.
Sitting there in front of the crackling fireplace, he set several diaries on the table beside him and smiled with grim satisfaction. If he was blamed again, he’d bring these out and prove his innocence, his care and concern for that family.
Then the Lord spoke to him. “I want you to throw these in the fire.”
The minister’s jaw dropped. “But Lord, these will vindicate me!”
“Burn them and let Me deal with this. I am your vindication.”
The minister wrestled with this command. It was hard to let go of his evidence, his chance to be vindicated. But to hang onto them and carry on in disobedience to God’s will… How would he face God on Judgement Day?
Finally he surrendered to the Lord’s request. The diaries went in the fire and an indescribable peace settled on him. God knew. Jesus Christ – and He alone – would be his justification on that Great Day.
Are there injustices we’ve suffered in our lives that God wants us to leave in His hands? Are there justifications and vindications we’re we holding onto that God would have us throw in the fire?
I Corinthians 1:29-31: “That no flesh should glory in his presence. But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption: That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.”