I love looking back to see how God has used different seasons in my life to bring me to where I am now in my relationship with Him. Below is a blog post I wrote back in 2011. It was actually kind of a follow-up to a post I had written on a friend's blog that you can read here. I loved reading that one after all this time as well. I find it interesting in some way that the church in this photo below is no longer there. It has been torn down since I took this photo and wrote these words. That seems symbolic in some way. Things are always changing...
This morning I am preparing for a meeting of our High School Small Group ministry leaders. Matt and I have served as leaders for 3, almost 3 1/2, years now, and it is amazing to look back on what I had written just before that and see how quickly things changed. Shortly after I wrote this, we met with the pastors at our current congregation. The following fall we began working with youth again, and then this year I took on the role of coordinator for the program as well. We have definitely spent a good amount of time now as members of this church body, and there are many things we have grow to love about it.
It still doesn't fill that deep desire for a faith family that I remember when I read the post below. I still long for that ability to walk into the church and feel at home. Maybe that just isn't something we will find again. After all, this world is not our home, right? Yet shouldn't stepping into God's house be the closest thing I find here on earth? I find myself thinking that I need to talk to my Heavenly Father about this more. But for now there are sloppy joes to prepare, cookies to bake, and a meeting to finish getting ready for. This church we attend now may not be what I imagined when I wrote about our future church family, but it is a place God has given us to serve for right now. So, we will do that with gladness!
I always pictured us having children when we lived in Missouri. I wanted ours to be one of the little ones that bounced from pew to pew, being loved by a whole congregation. I wanted a child who could grow up in Miss Jan's Sunday School classroom, and be one of those cute little shepherds at Christmas. At the time we were the youth leaders and were always at the church. I imagined having a little shadow as I moved around the church preparing events and working on our ministry. Mostly, I wanted to raise our little one in an environment where I knew that they would grow to love Sundays and enjoy worship.
God, of course had other plans as far as when and where we would become parents. I don't doubt for a minute that He has a church family waiting for us here as well! The exciting news, is that Matt will finally have Sundays off again very soon. He bids on a new shift on Tuesday, and then in October we will be able to once again start searching for a church. We won't be constrained to Saturday evening worship, and can find a congregation that actually makes us feel welcome and loved. I can't wait.
Now, I know that a physical church is not the only way to worship. I love this quote: "The Church is not a physical building, but a group of believers; not a denomination, sect, or association, but a spiritual body. The Church is not an organization, but a communion, a fellowship of one body, and it includes all believers." (The Church - The Body of Christ, John MacArthur). However, I think we have to be careful not to confuse the definition of the word church with a "get out of Sunday service free" card. Yes, we can (and we should!) worship at all times and in all places. 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18 tells us to "Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus." This should not take the place of fellowship, though. The Bible reminds us of the importance of fellowship:
- Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful. And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching. (Hebrews 10:23-25)
- They devoted themselves to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of bread and to prayer. Everyone was filled with awe at the many wonders and signs performed by the apostles. All the believers were together and had everything in common. They sold property and possessions to give to anyone who had need. Every day they continued to meet together in the temple courts. They broke bread in their homes and ate together with glad and sincere hearts, praising God and enjoying the favor of all the people. And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved. (Acts 2:42-47)
Just some of the things that have been on my mind as we anxiously await Matt's change in schedule! We could use some prayers this week that he can find a shift with Sundays off and hours that will work for our family. We are making Sundays off our only criteria in his bid, and trusting God to find the right shift for him.