The Great Adventure
Hello there, my peoples!
Once again, I am honored by your presence.
All day today I have been feeling sick in my stomach. Not as if I am to vomit, or have other bodily issues relating to the stomach, but a small hole in my belly that is filled with sickness. It makes me feel as if I am hungry, and gurgles as if I am needing food, but I eat and it does not go away. In fact… it grows.
I am assuming it is gas.
Now that you know that, I will continue.
Today in church I was in charge of lyrics for the first and second services, so I sat through them both. Thankfully, today was not a boring day because our pastor decided to change up second service to hit on a few points from a different directions. It was nice, but on the parts I had heard during first service my mind wandered. Today, in particular, it began to wander to why I had come to this church in the first place.
A year ago I left my family church because I no longer liked it there. To be honest it was like walking into a social gathering that I was not a part of. Like when a friend invites you to a party and you go there only to find your friend is absent and you’re stuck with a bunch of strangers not knowing what to do. Yes, I felt that isolated, so I left and went to a different church. I went to this church because I happened, by chance, to run into an old friend who was going there. I had known this before, but seeing the person out of nowhere surprised me, (for I had been leaving the grocery store at the time and did not expect to see anyone I knew).
We exchanged greetings, in the middle of the street, then went our separate ways. That Sunday I attended her church in hope that it was God’s divine glory that had sent me there and that it would become my new church.
Allow me to back up a little.
When I left my family’s old church there were three things I was searching for. Three things I did not feel I had in the church I had come from. Those things were:
- A warm greeting when I walk in from someone who shows genuine joy that I had come, (at least one person who gives me a real smile and shows an interest in who I was).
- Lively worship that is not just music but fully, fully, centered on praising God and showing Him love and gratitude.
- And finally, a preacher who loves God, preaches the gospel as it is written, does not sugar-coat the truth, but desires to lead his flock to God and not have the glory for himself. I see too many self-centered preachers and they turn my stomach.
These are what I sought.
The first church I went to had none. When I entered the pastor greeted me, but did not ask for my name or converse. I assumed he was busy, but I did not feel welcomed as I had hoped until my friend showed up. But she was always extremely welcoming so of course I would feel welcomed when she showed up. During worship I felt as if I were merely attending a concert. The sermon I also do not recall learning anything because I was too mesmerized by how rehearsed it all sounded. I know pastors plan their sermons, they want to give the second service the same amount of God that they gave the first. But when their prayers also sounded practiced and not like words guided by the Holy Spirit or the heart of the preacher, then I was turned off entirely.
After the service I walked out to my car with my friend. I told her the church wasn’t right for me, and she told me she was not surprised. She then told me about a church she had wanted to go to for a while. We made a plan to visit it together and so the following Sunday we attended this new church. When I arrived I was alone, and I am thankful for this, because when I walked in the greeters smiled and welcomed me, the people I saw looked friendly and real, and there was a vibe in the air that made me feel like I was in a family and a place where God was present. It was like breathing fresh air in a forest after walking in a smoggy city.
The pastor greeted me, asked my name, and actually chatted with me a while before moving on. That, my dear peoples, was shocking to me.
When worship began I was pulled into the wave that was a love for God which the worship team emitted. I could not help but feel God’s presence in the goosebumps and overwhelming peace that came over my heart. I didn’t see people around me; I was in worship. I had never felt such a sensation before.
And then there was the teaching. Our pastor prayed, and I will never forget the ending of his prayer, “Lord, fall on us like a money on a banana.” I nearly burst into laughter. After the prayer he said he was not sure where that had come from, but he was pretty sure someone needed it.
I can safely say I was one of the people that needed it.
The sermon was also enthralling. I learned more than I could even dream of learning within an hour-long teaching. And also left with a hunger for chocolate chip cookies due to a reference the pastor made. What that reference was I can only imagine, but even though a lot of my first day in this church is blurry, there are things I will never forget. Because that day I found where God wanted me to go. I found a space of healing. I found the sanctuary where I could heal from the abuse I sustained under the cold church I had come from.
I know a few people who will be insulted by this post, but I don’t care. I want to be open and truthful in these posts.
My family now attends my church and I can see they are healing as well. Even my siblings who have not had a solid church for a long time have found comfort and a home here. And now you each know of the journey that led me to my church.
Yes, I am fully aware that someday God will call me away and place me elsewhere. I know nothing lasts forever, and I find peace in that. But for now I will take what I can so I can give back to the world. Freely and generously in the same way God has given to me.
As a side note, when my friend told me about the church she was telling me that a lot of men around my age went there. She wanted me to find a man, that was why she sent me there. Back then I guess I was hoping to find my true love in the crowd of believers, but that was not what happened. My own desire was flipped, as God enjoys doing to our plans. I did not find a human love, but I found God’s love. The real love I had somehow missed before. As I began to attend services I fell in love with God more and more and my hope for finding a human love was put aside until the time when God brings a man to me. I am going to be patient. While I wait I will learn more about this God I have known forever, but only now know.
I may not have all the answers, and I may still be puzzled by a lot of things that we can never understand, (Heaven, the end of the world, things that happen to us, etc.), but I know one thing for sure and that is this:
That God is real. God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit are in control of this world. Jesus of Nazareth came into the world, lived a sinless life, and then died so that I, and you, could live forever.
That is what I believe.
Everything else is only detail.
I am burping now, so I can safely assume the sickness in my stomach was gas. What a relief!
Have a great weekend, everyone!