Sundays. I love them. Well, I love them when they go my way…
Getting to step into a place that we call home is a blessing. I remember a time when I viewed church attendance as a “have to.” Before it was revealed to me that the responsibility we have as Christians to attend church, to be involved in a community of believers, the honor of shouldering burdens, celebrating successes and praying for the leaders who have dedicated their lives to shepherding His sheep is everything but a have to- it is a get to. It is an opportunity to step into what God is doing. An invitation to move from spectators to participants. We have this opportunity, this gift, 24 hours a day 7 days a week- to participate in what He is doing. Yet there is something just different when we step into one of His houses and do it alongside others. It is an undeniable privilege.
One of my favorite things over the past few years, is visiting other churches. As a family when we vacation it very well may be one of the highlights of planning. We have had some tremendous experiences when we step out of our zone of comfort, and into the unknown. We have had the privilege of visiting churches of all sizes and denominations. We have broken bread in the homes of people that we never would’ve dreamed and heard testimony after testimony of what God is doing all over the world. I do not know about you, but sometimes I get so cozied up in my comfortable corner that I almost forget that his Church is far bigger than simply the one physical building that we call home. It is his body of believers, with or without a building.
Today was a day that I was really looking forward to. A guest speaker was coming to a local church that I was looking forward to hearing. Where he was scheduled to speak is a church that we have many ties to, for many different reasons. Even our children. It has been written in INK on the calendar. Anyone who knows me knows that only certainties are written in ink on our family calendar, and my personal planner. Things such as work schedules, school schedules, etc. All others that are electives are written in pencil. There is something about the ability to erase something that always feels more comfortable, than scratching out with pen. Here comes that word again: comfort.
This morning was a WRECK. When I say wreck, I could easily replace that with a few other choice words… We woke up an hour earlier, just to ensure we had plenty of time. Large family living has taught me many things, but one in particular is that it’s if you plan to be on time, you will likely be late. Therefore, we plan to be early that we are more likely to be on time. Needless to say, the big three were in rare form. Unkind words being exchanged, physical altercations (ummmm say what?! This is the LORDS day?!), the babies being extra destructive. I raised my voice after being told “no” and later being ignored. Everyone lost technology time that they had earned this week by 7:00am. My husband came cruising downstairs into the crazy after his shower and said, “kids, what is going on down here?!”
Every third weekend Colin has to work, which means its church for mama and the five littles solo. Colin gets himself ready and attends the earliest service at our home church, and we meet him there at the following service. Hugging, kissing and wishing him well for the day ahead for him. Today this exchange took place in the foyer as he knew that we were going to a different church. I finished getting everyone packed, was responding to all of the generous and welcoming text messages from friends that were expecting us today and headed out the door. I get to the van and my stomach just sank. No car seats. Let me just say that again, no car seats… I realized that Colin had a set and our nanny had the other. Immediately the grumbling spirit set in. I corralled everyone into the house and the thoughts starting flooding. I was frustrated. I was feeling disappointed. Totally deflated. I had done EVERYTHING right. I had planned and prepared. Until this point. At the end of this entry those destructive twins I was referring to, you can hear their sweet voices of confusion about not going to “turch” today. Too precious not to archive.
Recently I was talking to a friend about the story of Job. She was very unsettled in the book after reading it. Seeds of fear, doubt and confusion were trying to take root in her heart. When I was talking to her I told her that in the book of Job I am now able to find encouragement that has replaced what was once a similar fear. For the sake of time, I wanted to share one of the greatest sources of truth I find in the pages of this story.
Satan is a lion indeed. He is lurking always, roaming the earth to and fro as scripture says. He is always among us with an agenda. The agenda to distort our image of God, to confuse us of our identity. In other scripture it is explained his purpose is to kill, steal and destroy. These are real truths indeed. However, what I find peace in in the book of Job is that this lion is actually a lion on a leash. That he cannot do anything without God’s permission.
YES! That in order for things to be accomplished he must petition to God and ASK PERMISSION. That God is aware of his schemes, that He has already overcome Him. That anything that may be cast at me, God knows. A refining opportunity of our faith.
In this morning of trial and joy-robbing feelings I was reminded that God uses all things for the good of those who love Him. Furthermore, that these situations are to be used as opportunity to glorify Him. That I have an opportunity in the face of these trials to glorify God with my response(s). Perspective shift.
When I thought this was all God had for my morning, I got the post-church call from my husband. He was so filled up with what the LORD spoke to him this morning. As he shared the cliff note version of the service that were all housed around the theme “Our God is Jesus” I was brought to my knees. The LORD laid something heavy on my heart that He needed me to digest. He posed the question,
“Lindsay, what were you showing up for today? Were you showing up for a speaker, or were you showing up for me? Do you come every Sunday with the motivation that you have the opportunity for an experience with me? This morning I heard a lot of talk of your excitement regarding a man, but his name wasn’t Jesus?”
It is not that wanting to listen to the author, philanthropist and Jesus follower who was being featured today is bad. Not at all. Rather, my motivation for showing up today was housed from a posture of encountering him, and not Him. The I AM.
Refinement round number two before 9:30am. It was then that I was prompted to repent. Repent to the LORD, simply agree with Him. To thank Him. To the effect of, “LORD, thank you for searching this heart. For continuing to remind me that I am clay in your hands. Allow me to remain humble, teachable and moldable. Allow me to not lose sight of my why. Unearth unhealthy motivations and replace them with those that are simply to grow in my relationship with you. To love you, to know you and to make you known.”
Praising God that He knows my heart. He searches it. That He is so faithful to reveal any areas that need reformation. A lifetime work that He is committed to doing, and delights in. Digging through all of my ugly, dark corners.
May we all be mindful that God is always at work. That He knows our hearts desires; even when we are unaware. That when our plans, our schedules, or timing does not align with His that we will not allow ourselves to be prideful, and that we will not believe those tempting lies that He is not for us. Rather may they be replaced with joy as we sing songs of loudest praise to the LORD who waits for us to surrender. Over and over. That we would realign ourselves according to his purpose and plan. May we always assess our why, so that the LORD can lead us to our greatest ‘what’. Peace be with you, friends.
Below I have provided links for you to view if you are inclined. One is from the service I was referencing that I missed today featuring Bob Goff at West Side Christian Church. It was a tremendous service. We were able to attend via the TryChurchOnline streaming option they offer. So thankful! The next is from the church that we call home, Cherry Hills Church, and the service is given by one of our pastors who has been the greatest shepherd I have ever known. I promise you will not be disappointed by the truth he delivers, by the grace of God.