"Let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up gathering together as some are in the HABIT of doing but encouraging one another. All the more as the Day approaches." Hebrews 10:24-25
I need church. So do you.
On Saturday, I had a very difficult day. One of our shelter residents had an emotional home visit, and another was signed over to us by a parent.
We took our social workers to lunch and, on the way out, decided to buy lunch for three street boys who were hanging around the restaurant. After we handed them the bags of food, four or five OTHER street boys who had been watching from a distance came running over. An older boy tried to take food from a younger boy. Our social worker had to intervene. The older street boy was clearly mentally challenged and a bully. The others were afraid of him. We had to stand between him and the child who's food he was going after (despite the fact that we had given him something of his own) while the younger child walked away.
I watched these children - filthy, shoeless, hair dyed orange and cut in some crazy styles- and after the hard day I'd already had, all I could think was "I have no idea what I'm doing here and I don't want to deal with ANY of this anymore."
I don't want to watch kids fight over food, or parents sign away their rights, or siblings crying because they want to keep their little brother with them but we have to take him back to Mercy House.
I want to be near my children in America, who are getting ready to start college. I want to drive to Wal Mart and buy things that aren't on my list. I want to run into friends there and chat while we block the isles with our carts and have to say "oops, sorry" and move out of the way. I want to drink tap water. I want my kids to have their old friends back. I want a steady pay check every two weeks and insurance provided by the company.
But that was Saturday. Today is Monday and what happened in between was pure grace.
Church is what happened.
I walked into my church with the burden of Saturday crushing my spirit. I walked out with the peace of Christ making me feel lighter than ever.
I listened to the message from 1 Samuel, about Hannah and Elkanah and the giving BACK to the Lord of their son, Samuel. I sang praise songs that talked about the goodness of God and how much He loves us.
And my church is not perfect. There are things I would change. There always have been in every church I've ever been a part of.
If I let my critical spirit take over, I would surely not go to church anywhere ever. I would sit in judgement with my arms crossed and wonder if every element is necessary or even Biblical.
But in the place of desperation, I am changed. I can not wait to get to my church and just think about Him, and unburden, and refocus and remember WHY we are here and doing what we are doing.
So maybe you feel like you don't need church. Maybe you think you're closer to God "sitting by a river". Maybe you think the music is too loud or the chairs are too hard or the sermon is too long. Maybe you think the people are phony or they don't have the same passion that you have.
I know. I've been there. Too many times.
But the recent events of life coupled with an understanding that when the Bible says something, I need to do it, no matter how I FEEL about it, have given me a new love and appreciation for the assembling together of Believers. I need them. I need to hear any good word about my Savior. I need uninterrupted time to think about Him.
We all do. Don't get to the end of your rope before you obey what has already been commanded.
Go to church. Trade in those critical eyes for a grateful heart.
And be amazed at the goodness of our God!