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The Thread of Gold
God's Purpose, the Cross, and Me
A True Story
Chapter 1
IN THE SPRING OF 1977, MY HUSBAND AND I DRAGGED our bodies home
after a church meeting in Houston, Texas. During that meeting, I was publicly
humiliated; and after it, I was further shamed, censured, and ostracized. I had
sensed God’s nearness throughout everything that had transpired until that
night, and then it seemed that He had abandoned me to this horrible
experience. Those I loved had cast me into a pit of spiritual darkness and left
me there to languish alone. I went to bed still sobbing as I continued to relive
what had happened.


That Meeting

I was upset, nervous, and fearful as I sat there, waiting for Dan Williams to
speak. I had been in this condition since the time I had been told, several days
earlier, that my attendance in this meeting was mandatory. Dan was an elder
and regional leader from a church in another city who had traveled to Houston
with the purpose of holding this meeting. He was a tall, thin man who always
wore a longsleeved white shirt, a thin tie, and dark pants. He was sitting
forward in his chair on the front row jiggling one of his legs up and down
periodically. Then he rose and began to speak. He asked that the tape
recorder be turned off. This request was extremely unusual and, therefore,
foreboding.

Because of events in the preceding weeks, I knew whatever was coming
wasn’t going to be good. When Dan began to speak, he announced that there
was a “sisters’ rebellion” in the Texas churches and that the sister leading this
rebellion was in the Houston church. According to him, this sister had
committed serious offenses against the church. She and others with her had
encouraged people to open up and talk about their problems. According to
Dan, this was the same as encouraging people to vomit. He disapprovingly
said that when these sisters had told people to pray and wait for direction from
the Lord, they were advocating “passivity.”

As I had sat there listening to him, I had no doubt that I was the person about
whom he was speaking. Though he didn’t mention my name, many people in
the church had already heard I was in trouble and had stopped speaking to me
because of what was considered to be my “leprous condition.”

Dan declared that these rebellious sisters had opposed the Lord’s present
move in the church and had caused a serious division. He proclaimed that
they were seeking to be spiritual giants and that this was unacceptable in what
he called the age of the body, the corporate expression of Christ. Because of
their spiritual self-seeking, they had become deceived. Satan had used them
to cause serious error and trouble and, hence, to damage the church. At one
point, he stated his belief that sisters didn’t have any spiritual discernment,
and that they were, therefore, easy prey for Satan’s deception. He also stated
his belief that sisters could not receive revelation from the Bible. He continued
speaking for a long period of time, informing church members about the
evilness of the sisters’ rebellion and stating that any evidence of such rebellion
would not be tolerated.

A large knot of nausea and almost pain was throbbing in my stomach as I sat
there listening, feeling like time had been cruelly suspended so that the wound
I was receiving would be the deepest possible. When I ventured a glance
around the room, hoping for anyone, anything that might be able to stop this
nightmare, all I saw were faces glancing back at me with looks of pity. Dan
finally concluded his message: “One of these sisters hasn’t repented or talked
to us. You know who you are. After this meeting, come to the fellowship room.”
My husband and I knew he meant me. It apparently hadn’t been enough to put
me in a public coffin; he needed to nail it shut.


The Inquisition

With many eyes on us, we crossed the meeting hall and entered the fellowship
room. I felt like I was being summoned to the Inquisition. Dan was waiting there
with a number of others who had been invited to attend as witnesses. Most of
the local elders were present. One of their wives was present. An elder from a
third locality was also there. A number of sisters were there, including some
that had become members of the church through our efforts and had lived in
our home for a long period of time. It appeared that the elders wanted them to
be clear that I was not to be trusted. I was directed to sit down on the end of a
couch. Most of the people present were sitting on folding chairs in a semicircle
across the room from me. My husband was given a seat with them. Others
were standing.

A folding chair was on my right side, about a foot away from the couch. Dan
turned it to face me and then sat down. Looking at me, he began repeating in
judgment of me his pronouncements from the public meeting. He offered no
specific facts and no clear examples of my “rebellion.” He asked me nothing. I
did not understand his vague accusations. One of these was, “…and the
shameful downfall that you caused to one of us.” I had no idea what he was
talking about, but thought that by “one of us” he might mean one of the elders.
I wondered if his comment referred to a local elder named Steve Smith, who
had broken down and wept in front of me and a few others several weeks
before this. Steve was not present in the room that night.

Dan informed me that he knew all about the “secret meeting” we had planned
for the spring. However, this was news to me because I didn’t know anything
about it. He said that all my rebellious, negative speaking had “come to their
ears,” revealing a conspiracy among the sisters that was undermining the
elders and church oneness. Maybe he used the biblical phrase “come to our
ears” to try and give scriptural support to what he was doing. He wasn’t
interested in learning whether I realized I was the leader of what he was calling
a sisters’ rebellion. He told me emphatically that I needed to repent for my
offense to the church, and from that day forward, I was to “stop all my talk and
be quiet.”

I sobbed throughout his monologue. His non-specific accusations left me
feeling that my person was being attacked. Near the end of the torment, I said,
“The only solution I can see is just to dig a hole about six feet deep and put me
in it. I think the problem is just who I am.”

I also told him, “Whatever has happened, it isn’t my husband’s fault. It’s mine.”
At this point, another of the elders present, who always seemed to be lurking
in the background, Sam Jones, chuckled and said, “I always wondered why
the Lord put you two together, and now I know.” I had no idea what he meant
by this strange statement. Why had he always wondered this? What did he
now know? I certainly didn’t understand his apparent amusement. How could
anyone find anything funny in what was happening at that black moment in
that room? I was weeping and in extreme distress, yet he found humor in the
situation? Sam’s comment, at best, was thoughtless and cruel.

Later that night at home in bed, I tried to pray, but I couldn’t. I was experiencing
an internal, spiritual, and emotional agony. How had such darkness swallowed
us? I had belonged to Jesus since I was a child, and He had never failed me.
Where was He now? I felt like I was suffocating in a deep, dark pit filled with
blackness.
Into the Pit
The LORD has appeared of old to me, saying: “Yes, I have loved you with an
everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.” (Jer. 31:3)
Copyright 2005 by Jane Carole Anderson