The Significance of Rejection
by Autumn Miles
If you have ever felt rejection to any degree, let me be the first to welcome you to the rejection club. You have joined the rank of the most highly influential people known to man. Your name will be displayed beside Moses’ name; he was rejected multiple times by the entire nation of Israel. Who else is in the club? Joseph, whose own brothers sold him into slavery; afterward, he became second in command over all of Egypt. King David was rejected many times and found himself running from King Saul, whom, at one time, David had soothed out of dark moods by playing his harp. Then, of course, there’s Esther, who faced harsh rejection from Haman and could have been killed by her own husband for standing up for the Jewish people. Daniel was also rejected and placed in the lion’s den. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego were thrown into the fiery furnace. Paul, Peter, James, John … need I go on?
In modern times we’ve seen that people such as Abraham Lincoln and Martin Luther King, Jr. faced the ultimate rejecting for their beliefs, and their fights ended with death. Although all of these people were amazing men and women, your name will also fall in line with the name that is above every name, the King of kings, Jesus, who was despised and rejected by men. I have never been so proud to bear the label “rejected.” Knowing that I am in the same company doesn’t make me feel so bad after all!
At first I sat calmly in the pale blue room of the church I grew up in. The tables were positioned in a rectangle so that each of us in the room could see each other’s face. This room, just a couple of years earlier, was the room where I put on my wedding dress to marry the man who now sat diagonally from me. The warm and inviting room that had boasted of joy and happiness just a couple of years earlier now seemed cold and dark. The florescent lighting made the room feel like an interrogation room for a criminal.
I sat in the middle of the rectangle and faced opposition – several men whom for my entire life I had looked up to. I had been to dinner at their homes, celebrated Christmases with their families, babysat their kids, was babysat by them and grew up knowing them as men who were substitute family. My dad was the pastor of the church I attended, but he was not allowed at this meeting. With all the strength I could muster on that spring night, I sat quietly, not speaking until spoken to. The meeting was part of the process of confronting me on filing for divorce [from my abusive husband.]
At the time, this meeting seemed monumental to me; looking back now, God had me in that meeting for a much greater purpose. The details of the divorce had been discussed with the church leadership because I was the pastor’s daughter and had received support from the leadership for a short time. That night, however, the tide had turned. I could feel my face grow hot, and the nerves in my body were tense. My pulse sounded like a drum in my ear loud enough to distract me for a time.
The meeting began with prayer. As we prayed, God reminded me where I stood with Him. This momentary act of human rejection was nothing like the acceptance I had received in my relationship with Him. As the meeting began, I dreaded going through the agenda. Futile things were discussed, such as property division and the explanation of meaningless conversations. The leadership listened to my replies as I explained my actions. I knew that God had spoken to me, and for the first time in my life, I would not be persuaded to do anything against His plan for me.
I had made horrible decisions that went completely against His plan for my life; but as I sat in that room, I was now confident of the direction God had called me to go. None of my answers seemed good enough. The rebuttal from a couple of the men was strong and convincing. After a while, I just sat in silence as the firing squad continued. I looked down at the old 10-foot table and tried to pick the plastic from the edge. I was at a loss. I looked for comfort from my youth pastor, sitting to my right, but I found none as he stared ahead as if fixated on an object on the wall to distract him. There I sat, alone, when the chairman of the deacon board picked up a large book from the floor. I didn’t recognize the book, so I was interested in what it would say. He said, “You are planning on attending Liberty University in the fall, correct?” “Yes,” I answered. He responded with, “Do you know what they think about divorce?” “Not really,” I said. He then opened up the book and read the biblical stance that Liberty University took on divorce and said, “Do you think they are going to accept you?”
I was floored by that unexpected move and responded with a yes. The chairman of the deacons didn’t know that my father had called Jerry Falwell, the founder of Liberty University, just a few days earlier and asked for his advice. Jerry Falwell was a friend of my grandparents when they grew up in Lynchburg, Virginia. As a family friend, Jerry would regularly take my dad’s calls. Jerry’s response after hearing the entire story of my situation went something like this: “You tell that girl to get in a car and get to Liberty University and find her a man who will love her like Christ loves His church.” Coming from such a man of God, this had again confirmed my act of obedience.
I didn’t tell them that night about my father’s conversation with Jerry Falwell, but I sat there and simply responded with a yes.
After that, this man looked my squarely in the eyes and said, “If you do this, if you go through with this divorce, God will never use you.” I didn’t listen to anything that was said the rest of the night. But I have never forgotten that line: “God will never use you.” When the meeting concluded, I stood up, pushed my chair under the table and walked to my car. On the brisk drive home that evening, God reminded me of the people He used whose stories were recorded in Scripture. He began to remind me of the total screw-ups He had made into champions for His name. I drove away that night rejected and alone in the physical, but accepted in the heavenly.
Taken from Appointed: Your Future Starts Now by Autumn Miles. Copyright © 2014. Use by permission of Revell, a division of Baker Publishing Group.
We’d like to hear from you. Please share your comments below or like us on your Facebook page. Be sure to check back each month for more articles and products available at your local Christian bookstore.