Throughout my life, I have been a member of many churches. I’ve attended churches that were very small, up to churches that I thought were large with attendance of well over 500 in each of two services. I have loved some of the churches I have attended and am grateful that God gave me the opportunity to worship in them.
Having had some difficult experiences with D and church, I have been very apprehensive when it came to church. However, I knew that we would never overcome those experiences and that satan would win if we stayed out of church.
So, I swallowed my fear, D begged for months to visit a church…a very large church…it made the bigger churches I have been to seem like a small group study.
The first Sunday the kids and I went in and I was overwhelmed before I ever got through the door. Someone greeted us and led us to the children’s check-in area. When they handed me a key ring bar code that was similar to my grocery store discount card I was sure this was not the church for me. I stayed, though … and I took the kids to their classes and headed to the auditorium for the worship service.
The music was great, the sermon was good, and I was willing to give it another try, but only because I wanted my kids in church and they all enjoyed the children’s services.
When you are in doubt about something, satan will use that doubt as a way to wiggle his way into your thoughts and feelings. He will nurture that seed of doubt into a full grown tree of lies!
‘Why are you frightened?’ he asked.
‘Why are your hearts filled with doubt?’
We left church that day and I called Chad at work. I explained that we would visit again, but I just didn’t see that being my home church. I gave every reason the devil fed me and no matter how many the devil fed me, God fed me reasons to go back.
So, I did … I went back the next weekend and again the next … Then we missed a while because of illness, but then we went back again. The kids had started claiming that as our church. Besides, the church was so large that no one knew if we were there or not and if something happened with D, we could always just bow out and never come back … who would know?
And then, I realized that someone did miss us. After missing another week because we all had the flu, Spike’s teacher greeted her with a great big smile and an Oh, I’m so glad you’re here! We missed you last week! And then, D’s teacher said she was glad he was back, she even went as far as to say, I love me some D! And Pouty’s teacher was happy to see her and Samoo went in his classroom with almost no tears. Then, the usher recognized me and said Good Morning! in that I recognize and am glad you’re here tone of voice.
I have to be honest, it scared me … this gigantic church with close to 2000 people in each service was actually small enough that people knew us. Here, I was still listening to satan’s lies of why I should not be attending church, much less at that church…the one where people knew us, the one where since the very first Sunday, people were glad we were there.
And so, we kept attending … and then Chad was able to go with us. After the first Sunday, I expected him to say he didn’t like it. In fact, I almost hoped he would say it was not the kind of church he wanted to attend. He grew up in a rather formal United Methodist Church and here we were in this very progressive, come as you are, church with loud music, light effects, and a preacher who wears jeans and an untucked shirt.
We left church and I asked, Well? What did you think? He immediately said he liked it. Another couple of Sundays and I heard him say, out of the blue, Lena, I really like our church a lot!
That’s it, it was our church. All of satan’s lies, the ones that I knew were lies, the ones that since the first Sunday the kids and I went, I was trying to believe, but deep in my heart I could see them for what they were … satan’s lies … they were gone, they no longer mattered. I had said before that I loved our church and I did love the church, but I was scared of the commitment since I had been through some traumatic church experiences with D.
Yes, I had been through traumatic church experiences with D … They were really his experiences that I had been a part of, yet I was the one who was scared … He was ready for church, completely unaware of the past experiences, and excited about each new Sunday. So, if he could get past those times, I would too.
Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him.
“You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
I gave those fears to God, I thanked him for the church that I really did love so much, and we took the next step… We attended the Discovering Membership class and joined the church.
It was during that class that what I had seen at various places at church went from being 15pt font on a piece of paper to being the size of a billboard message from God. There, at the top of the page in our membership booklet were the words,
Love God, Love People
Love God, Love People…Many times I have said, I love God and I love people. I don’t care what your choices are in life, while I do not agree with them, it does not change the fact that I love you!
And there, as big as a billboard, was the message from God…
Lena, this is your church home. Lena, let go of satan’s lies and listen to my truths. This is the church where you are meant to serve and be involved. You love me, you love people, your mission and the mission of this church are one in me.
And you know what,
I love my church! I love God! I love people!