For 15 years I have gone to a church service here, gone to a church service there. We'd go a few Sundays and then stop. The people didn't talk to us or we felt uncomfortable. We always found something to complain about, some reason NOT to go back. I am always telling my children that your attitude is a big factor in how your day will go. Well, when you go to church with a negative attitude, odds are you're not going to get anything out of it. We went just looking for a reason not to go back. And, we got nothing out of it. Every. Single. Time.
I have several friends who do not go to church. Friends who don't even believe in God. Or friends who do but just feel like church is filled with people who are judging them, criticizing them, people who are sticking their noses in the air because church is their social hour and you are not part of their "clique." Having stood where they stand, I can understand that. I have seen people who have gone out of their way to not speak to us. People who sat in the church pews in front of us and gossiped about people in the church. But, over the past week, a thought came to me--church isn't about the people, church is about God. Sure, you have people who go to church to see their friends and socialize, and that is great. It's good to have Christian friends to encourage you, but at the end of the day, the true reason for going to church is to seek God. To praise Him and thank him for all that you have--to learn more about Him and allow your relationship with Him to grow. I realized that instead of paying so much attention to the people in the church, I should have been paying attention to God.
God was really nowhere in my life. I had negative thoughts about church, even about Christians. Then, things started happening. My best friend started attending a bible study and I noticed some changes in her. She seemed more positive about life. I noticed that some of her choice words were no longer in her vocabulary. I noticed that her tough edge seemed to be a little softer and she just seemed different--happier. Then, the father of one of my closest friends passed away suddenly. When I learned of this news, my heart sank. I remember feeling sick. I rescheduled Alex's therapies and planned everything out and headed to Duncan the day before the funeral so I could not only attend the funeral but the visitation with the family as well. I grew up with this man. He would ask me, "You going to church?" If I said, "No," He would say, "No? How come?" I, like so many others, would give him excuses and with each excuse he'd say, "Aww . . ." in an annoyed tone and say, "You need to be in church." He never made me feel like he was judging me, but he cared and he wanted me to be where I needed to be. "How you gonna grow closer to God if you're not going to His house?" Honestly, at the time, I didn't care. I went to this man's funeral. You hear people give their testimonies and say, "And then I felt God touch me." Nope. My testimony is, " . . . and then I felt God smack me on the back of the head." It has been long enough. Get it together and start paying attention! And I did. People got up and talked about the awesome ways this man had served God during his life. He was a man after God's own heart and he served happily and would help anyone who needed help. He was what every Christian should strive to be. God used him in life--and he was able to use him in death, as well.
I realized that I was going about things all wrong. People are funny. We don't seek God. We don't turn to God. We take all that we have for granted. When things go well we don't thank God for his blessings, no, we did it all on our own. But, when things go bad we get angry with God and blame God. "Why did God let this happen?" I am starting to realized the utter insanity of humanity--God gets credit for nothing, except when things go wrong. It makes no sense and I'm just as guilty as the next person.
While sitting in that pew during this man's funeral I felt God grabbing my attention. Something happened inside me and I felt the need to get back in church, the desire to seek God in his Word and in prayer, and the urge to serve. I know He is doing big things in my family, in my friend's lives, in my own life and I look forward to seeing how this is all going to play out.
And our story goes on . . .