Separation: Ministry, Church, and Family

October 24, 2017 | Colin Johnson

Relationships are an important part of God’s Kingdom as it says in Ecclesiastes 4:9, “two are better than one.” Past experiences shape our perception, understanding, and expectations in every relationship. Divorce and separation, unfortunately, are a natural part of life and I can still see the hurt from these relationships today in my own life.

Divorce Affects the Family Too

My grandparents' divorce was my first experience with what a divorce can do to a family. Growing up my uncle, who was two years older than me, was my best friend. After their divorce, I experienced a change and a void growing between us. 

Divorce is defined in two ways. 

  1. Legally dissolve one's marriage with (someone).
  2. Distance or dissociate oneself from (something).

My uncle chose to walk away from the church. With all of the hurt that he felt from his parent's divorce, he chose to divorce himself from the body of Christ and from God. We don’t talk much anymore, but I do still pray for him at times. I pray that he finds God again.

My parents didn’t divorce until my mid-twenties. Growing up, I remember thinking they should divorce because they fought all the time, and my dad was always traveling. I did not fully understand the pain it caused. Even though I was older when they divorced I still felt and continue to feel the hurt. God said, it “does violence to the one he should protect,” Malachi 2:16. As a husband and a father, I am to protect my wife and my children from the violence of divorce.

Statistics say around 20% of children leave the church if their parents’ divorce. 

What type of father would I be if I hurt my child so much they left God? As a child, watching families in our church choose divorce was painful. I wondered how they could know God and experience the love of Jesus, and still choose to separate from their spouse. Something that God hates. (Watching people feel so connected to God and fall apart while watching my parents fall apart..). That confusion followed me into my teenage years, and I began to create a gap between myself and God. Ultimately painful experiences from my youth caused me to walk away from both God and the church. Years later, as a married adult, my wife and I have decided that divorce is not an option. Not when God and His commands come first. 

Feeling Divorced from God.

There was a time in my life where I felt the furthest from God that I have ever felt in my life and it took meeting my wife and having an experience where God shook me, to get me back into His love. Before I came on staff at the church, I felt divorced from the Body of Christ. It was hard to answer the call to ministry because I struggled with how much I felt like I did wrong. I felt I was not worthy of His love and I was so wrong. God loves us so much that He is willing to follow us to our lowest points just to pick us up. When I was homeless, God gave me the best wife in the world. It would take meeting my wife…. When I wanted so much to have my own family, God gave me the perfect daughter. I thought that my walking away from Him would remove me from His love, but He was following me, waiting with open arms. After being asked to come on staff at the church, I wrestled with the feelings and things God showed me. I thought, "Me? Working in a church helping people? How could someone so damaged and broken lead others to You?” 

I was given the advice to take a day and spend it with God. Just God, Bible, worship music, and a journal. That was the best thing I could have ever done. It allowed me to receive the answers I needed. The best way to lead someone is to take a path you already know. I had been so far away from God and found my way back. That is what He wants. He wants me to bring the separated, the distant, and the lost back to Him. He wants all of us to come to Him. Jesus met with me that day and reminded me of my value. After being divorced from Him for so long, God called me back and I answered the call.

Loving Like Jesus

Some time ago my wife and I talked with Pastor Alan Mock about our struggling marriage and I remember dwelling on was our need to love Jesus more than we love each other. 

We have to love Jesus so much that any other love falls so short it looks like hate. Pastor Alan shared with us that if we love Jesus and obey His word, we will love each other more, becoming servants to each other, and even trying to out-serve one another. She is to submit, but I am to die for her, creating a continuous cycle of love, honor, and relationship that resembles Jesus’s relationship with myself, The Father, The Son, and The Holy Spirit. I am inspired by Pastor Alan and Mary Anne Mock’s marriage. Watching the love they share with not only each other but with those around them. 

The way that God designed marriage is important to the way my wife and I live our lives. In marriage, you become one with your spouse which is God’s design for our relationship in order to make us stronger and more effective as a married couple. It is His example with not only husbands and wives, but between Christ and His church. I am excited to see the ways God uses my marriage to share His love with others, and the places He takes us together. 

“If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple." Luke 14:26

Jeremy Cai

Colin is the Coordinator of Student Ministries & Weekend Celebrations. Half of his job is serving with the weekend celebrations and making sure they run as smooth as they can. The second half is in Student Ministries where he gets to share God’s love with kids. Colin is happily married to his beautiful wife, Erin and together they have a Whidbey (their child).