I absolutely love it when the Lord reinforces something in my heart several times in a short period. Since the Sunday sermon, I've been thinking about "church" -mostly in regard to why. I've heard before the "no man is an island" reason, the encouragement reason and the service reason for being part of a church community but this week, something else hit me pretty hard.
Abbey came home from choir camp and it didn't take long for her exhaustion to show. What started as slight annoyance with her siblings quickly became tears. I knew I was walking that fine line between letting her release the stress of having been away and getting very frustrated! I asked her more about the trip and it started to come out. My brave child, the one who hopped up those bus steps just days before, had trouble describing how she felt. Finally she tearfully exclaimed,
"I felt like I was missing something!"
Of course, I immediately thought it was her mother she was missing... but no. It wasn't a person or a thing, it was that she couldn't figure this group out. She couldn't understand why they wanted to hang out around the pool table instead of play in the nearby play structure. She couldn't understand why they wanted to sit beside the pool talking instead of jumping in and swimming. She couldn't make sense of why she was so different from the others. My heart broke for her because I know how important it is for a girl this age to feel that sense of belonging.
And then I remembered the Sunday sermon. I recalled our pastor talking about the sense of belonging we have as a part of God's family and a part of a local church community. During the message, the Spirit whispered to my heart.
You see, there have been many times that I've wondered about church. Why go? Why be committed to something so demanding and often draining - especially when you work there?
And then I thought about the world, how hard it is to be in it, but not ruled by it. How much I can tend toward wanting to fit in, even at my old age! It's the struggle my daughter faces, it's the struggle we all face.
But on Sunday (or whenever your church meets) you go to a place where you fit. You don't have to pretend (and hopefully we're not still pretending). It's the Family. Of course that means it will be messy and imperfect - isn't that the definition of family?
God gives us the gift of church as a reprieve from the world - a place to refresh our beat up hearts and souls. As the world takes little pieces of our confidence and strength all week long, we come together to share the burden of being different, to remind ourselves of the importance of our calling and to worship the One who made us His!
"Let us consider how we may spur one another on
toward love and good deeds.
Let us not give up meeting together,
as some are in the habit of doing,
but let us encourage one another."