Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dear Pastor Perry

Dear Pastor Perry,

I don't know if you will receive this but I felt like the Lord wanted me to encourage you with what words I have for encouragement that He has given me over the years. You may not even know who I am but we use to be at Clemson and we have met but you meet so many.   I am so sorry you have gone through criticism recently.  I know how painful that can be.  Although it is wise to have those who watch over us with care it can be done in not so kind of ways.  I know you know, as I do in writing, that it is a huge responsibility to handle God word with wisdom.  But at the same time as your response said and I so admired we are all sinners, even those who criticized you unkindly.  This does not take God by surprise.  He prepared for us in Jesus.

I have prayed for you, your family and ministry.  We have dear friends in common and I have kept up with your story and admire you very much.  My daughter told me one of your sermons saved her life.   It was a sermon she heard on her kitchen floor November, 2012. It had been a long few years and she had been through so much.  Hard does not come near to explain it.  She was desperate and found life, Jesus and hope, in the words you shared that was sent to her all the way in Texas by her cousin that goes to church at New Spring.  She is an amazing woman and God has used her and has changed her and has helped her survive unbelievable circumstances.  Jesus has brought beauty out of ashes.  How do I thank you and Jesus for that?.  I have been amazed at how God has used you but you are a broken man and God uses those who love Him and have a broken and contrite heart.  I know you know it is not of yourself and you never stop short of giving God glory.  I have loved the sermons and services me and my family have visited over the years.  It was indeed a pleasure to meet you.  You remind me of my husband who always cares so much for people.

As you know we were in the public eye early on in our lives and received much praise as well as criticism.  Frankly I worried about both.  I use to sit in the stands and hear how great we were to how we needed to be fired.  I use to tell my children...they pay for their seats.  These people have had a hard week and this is their outlet don't take it personal.  Then we were criticized nationally in papers and news all over the country.  My children had to wake up and go to school the next morning and face the voices of others.  They never were critical of their dad or their team, fans, staff.  It would serve no purpose to say all that came our way as negativity in being such a position. They always held their head high and treated others with kindness. They have much compassion until this day.   It was painful and they had to learn to deal with it as young children.  Me too.  We defended when we could but that was not very profitable.  God used it in my families life to learn to deal with people and learn to forgive.  I cannot tell you with reason all the ways our family had to learn to deal with being in the public eye.  It was a tremendous blessing as well as a struggle in life that brought us all closer as a staff, and all who were supportive.  It was our family.  Til this day players come by and say what an influence my husband had in their life.  People still love and admire him.  He goes and visits the sick and dying and never tells a soul.  I believe it was meant by God for our family to be in the limelight and have the influence to point others to Jesus and love them and to be loved by so very many til this day.  God will and has used all you are going through for good and for His glory.

Recently, I have corrected someone I care about a lot.  I did it in an unkind manner.  It makes me sick and I am so very sorry.   I realize these things take time to recover from and deal with for everyone.  When you have hurt someone you love and respect their integrity as a Christian as much as anyone you know, you can't fix it, not their pain or yours.  All you can do is cry out to God for there to be no other harm to them, as the consequence of your actions, confess your sin and ask for forgiveness from God.  Hopefully forgiveness from them in time and learn from your mistakes.  I am just so aware how fallen I am and how I could be wrong on both sides of the situation.  So I pray for grace for you Pastor, me and the ones I hurt.  We do the things we hate and hate the things we do.   Paul said something similar.  We hurt the ones we  love and support and they hurt us.  We are a mess and Jesus is our only hope.  We need to hear when we are wrong, but in a loving, gracious way, speak the truth in love, valuing others more than ourselves.

Please know the community is in your corner.  None of us know it all and won't until we see Jesus.  As you continue to labor for our LORD and His sheep, know God is faithful to keep us all humble.  We all need our Savior.  I pray He is glorified through all our sin.  God bless you Perry Noble, your sweet family and His church.  I hope this is received in the light of someone who cares deeply and wanted to encourage you.  Blessings friend.  I know we all need to move on, so hope it was ok to pass this along to you for future.  Just some thoughts from an old woman for what they are worth.  As you and I know, the Gospel is true.  Gods grace is true.  Thank you Jesus!  Thank you Father and Spirit amen.

Deborah Ford