....this may be Part I of many posts to come, because this is what is really on my heart lately. My heart is really evolving, so no matter how/where I end this post, I know it will not do it justice.
Isaiah 52:12 - But you will not go out in haste, nor will you go as fugitives; for the Lord will go before you; the God of Israel will be your rear guard."
Psalm 139:23-24 - Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; and see if there is any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way."
Last Sunday I did something that for most of my adult life (I include college in this) has been one of the hardest things for me to do. I went to church.
Yes, I know how that statement sounds. I also know how silly some people think this next statement will sound. - In my past experiences, church has been the loneliest place I have ever been.
I've eaten at restaurants alone, participated in 5K races with thousands of people alone, traveled alone, gone to movies alone, attended sporting events alone. I have done many things (and will do many more) alone....but the place I have felt the loneliest? Church.
The thing about it is, though, I could never figure out why. I've even been a member of a few churches during that time, participating in activities, attending 'Sunday school', volunteering in the nursery, singing in the choir....but I've always felt alone.
Isn't church supposed to be the place you go to find community? The place where everybody knows your name? (well, besides Cheers, of course)
Many times in college, especially early on, I would go to church and not know anyone there. The absolute loneliest I have ever felt - and I've had some pretty rough days and dark times - was/is sitting in a church pew (or those comfy individual chairs we all have now) alone - with no one to sit by or talk to. Oh, sure, there were some times, especially in college, where I would know people, but didn't feel comfortable asking if I could sit with them.
I would sit in bible studies - places my heart longed to be, a place I looked forward to all week long, and as I was listening and learning and soaking up as much of the Word as I could, I would feel so alone.
This pattern has repeated for....who knows how many years.
Well...after weeks and weeks (okay...months and months) of giving myself pep talks about going to church, I got up the nerve to go last Sunday.
I was scared. I was anxious. I was lonely. I was self-conscious. Funny thing is....once the preaching started....once the Word was being spoken, I bathed in it. Everything else faded away. It no longer mattered that I was sitting in a crowded, almost packed church - with no one around me. I no longer felt alone. I soaked in the words being spoken....I basked in the Father's love for me. The sermon? Classic case of God knowing where we are and meeting us there - the sermon was on being alone in church. Huh. Who would have thought?!?
WHAT A MIGHTY GO WE SERVE. He knows every person who has ever and will ever live on this planet. He knows every star in the sky and has numbered the grains of sand on the beaches. And this God....this God is not too busy to know ME. To know my needs and wants and fears and anxieties. He knows ALL of them. And when I acted in obedience and stepped outside of my comfort zone, he met me there. And he Blessed me - beyond measure.