|April 20, 2014|
Having just celebrated Easter with my new church family, I am overflowing with praise to God for the gift of other Christians. I don't doubt that many of you share my gratefulness for solid brothers and sisters in Christ. Some of you know the struggle that comes with yearning for and asking God to grant you a church home. It is a familiarity with that longing that convinced me of the NEED for regular communion with other Christians.
You see, aside from a short stint when I lived in Massachusetts, I've never been a part of a solid local body of believers. It got to the point where I went over four years without even going to church. The story of that period is a long one, but it boils down to a period in my life where the only option was a church that was not true to or enamored with the Word of God. During that time, I stayed as close as I could to God and I never stopped asking Him to grant me people who LOVE Him. I spent a lot of time at the Ranch and with Jay and Alice and Al and those in person times of Christian fellowship were beyond sweet. For several years, I missed having a church and felt really silly when people asked me about what church I was a part of and having to tell them that I wasn't. If I'm honest, it mostly felt really good not to have that area of battling with people who should have known better in my life any more.
Eventually, the whole not having a church thing started to really bother me. I missed what I had in Massachusetts and I craved a body of local believers the way that many people crave marriage or a baby. I cannot express to you just how overcome I was with this longing. Last Easter that longing came to a head. On Palm Sunday, I wrote this post and then I visited my parents' church for Holy Week services only to be reminded of the gut wrenching words that came from the pulpit there. On Easter Sunday, I sat out on the back patio at our house listening to the church bells ring. It was a beautiful spring day and I was just coming to the end of a journal. I poured myself out to God in prayer. By the time I gathered my things and went back into the house, my soul was refreshed. I didn't know what was going to happen, but I had submitted this area of concern to Him. I was honest with myself, with Him, and full of confidence in whatever it was that He had in store.
One year later, Easter rolled around and everything was so different. On Sunday I stood surrounded by this new body that I've been a part of since the end of August. The voices cascading over me as we sang "Christ The Lord Is Risen Today" were enough to make me sing this familiar song with all that I had in me. As we joined together to read Psalm 2 and hear the preaching about being glad in God, I was sitting in my seat overflowing with gladness. When the bread and the wine were passed around, I feasted on my Lord and His faithfulness. Though God didn't have to grant me a church or make it possible for me to have a place in it, He has. Those years of living where I grew up have given me so very much to be grateful for, the main ones being the walk with God that I have, dependence on Him, and a strong conviction for the absolute necessity of regular communion with other Christians.
Wherever you are, please do not take God's charge to meet with other Christians lightly. As with all of His commands, this one is for your good. Seek out people who love God and whose delight is found in His Word. Praise God and pray for churches full of these kinds of people. I still have to finish the "Strategies for Beholding" series, but until then, it is my hope that this testimony of God's grace will remind you of the gift that we Christians are to one another.
How has God's grace shown up in your life recently?