Sunday, December 16, 2007

Church this morning

So we're attending a new church, after attending our old one for 14 years. Without going into delicate details, I'll just say that we left our old church feeling wounded, bitter, and wondering if we wanted any part of this religion stuff or even God. I know--placing our faith in people and not God; equating faith and intimacy with God to church--never good ideas. But still, that is how we felt.

We immediately started going to a new church where we know quite a few people, but still feel anonymous enough to blend in and test the waters. Now, at our old church, we loved the pastor. He counseled us, baptized us, married us, dedicated baby #1 and #3, and just last summer baptized that baby #1 who is now 9! We loved that his sermons most of the time seemed to address something in our lives directly, as if he were reading my diary! I knew it was God, but still, it amazed me each week.

Well, at this new church, I've been experiencing the same thing, but on a deeper level. Today was emotional. The pastor was talking about how so many of us yearn for that deep, spiritual "God" experience--you know, like when you meet someone who is on fire for God and you want what they have. But you don't have it. So he went from there talking about how we have 3 choices--shut ourselves off from God but still go through the emotions of Christianity (dead faith); we quit God; or we open ourselves up to Him. He expanded on that idea, and I was into what he was saying, it was working for our situation, but wasn't exactly hitting the sore spot in my faith. Then he said something
that pertained exactly to how Teddy and I are feeling right now in terms of our faith. I can't remember exactly what he said word for word, I just know it was prfound to me. Even my sis-in-law who was with us looked over at me with this shocked look on her face--she couldn't believe how much it was speaking to our situation. But I nearly started sobbing at one point. He made a comment similar to this:

Maybe you feel like God has left you. Maybe you've been hurt so badly by the church or by other Christians that you're just ready to quit--quit life, quit church, quit God. Have you ever thought that maybe, just maybe, God didn't want that situation to happen to you? That maybe He didn't want you hurting like this? But He does want to pour His spirit into you.

That spoke to me. The last few years, at our old church, I felt like God left me. I felt like He favored other people, even ones who did things that were un-Christian. I felt like if you were a leader, you could do anything you wanted, even if it was un-Christlike. It never occurred to me that MAYBE GOD DIDN'T WANT THOSE SITUATIONS TO HAPPEN TO ME! Maybe He allowed them to happen and allowed them to shape and mold me, but didn't want it to happen. Kind of like a natural disaster, which the situation that really hurt us was kind of like a natural disaster! The main point I do remember him making, though, was in those times when you feel all alone, you need to hang on to what you know is true. How do we know what's true? By spending time with God and in His word. He then challenged us to give something up this week--exercise time or computer time or TV time or a meeting--anything. Give it up to spend an hour with God.

Anyway, I know that this is probably not a revelation to a lot of other people, but it sure spoke to my heart. Even my SIL was crying, and later I found out it was mostly because she was thinking of our situation. I'm excited to go to church again, because each week, I feel God working. I can never remember point for point what the sermon is about, like I could before, but I always can remember the parts of the sermon that spoke specifically to my situation

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