Anyone who has read my blog posts for at least a year, knows the story of my youngest daughter who attempted suicide in the spring of last year. I found myself out of whack with everything, really struggling to not be overwhelmed. I was focused on working with her to feel better, dealing with the trauma of seeing her that way, and working on the family issues that ensued while still maintaining my work schedule and leading a group. A situation like that takes its toll on everything!
I had been visiting a church fairly regularly but had not joined, nor had I made a real effort to even get to know anyone or become very involved. I would reason with myself that I’m involved with two Bible studies that take time. I read my Bible every morning. I pray. I blog. And I was tired from the stress of the fallout of the attempted suicide. So I missed a few Sundays. Who cares? God knew I was in the Bible every other day of the week, is it really necessary to be in church every week? Sometimes, we have things to do! But then I missed a few more. Next thing I know, it had been months.
After some evaluation at the end of last year, I came to the realization that one of my greatest weekly needs was church, and that I floundered spiritually without it. Let me explain how I came to that…
In Acts 11, we see Saul preach for an entire year at the church in Antioch. The Greek word, ekklesia, is used for church, which meant an assembly of people. In 1 Timothy, we see Paul writing to Timothy encouraging him to public reading of the scripture, to exhort and teach. People were gathering at that local church. It was important to be among like-minded Christians to learn about Jesus. I was missing the larger picture of that by not going to church.
Praise is important. In Colossians 3:16, Paul reminds us to let the word of Christ dwell in us richly, teaching and admonishing each other, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. He said each other, not by yourself. As everyone lifts their voices together in praise it reminds me of the moments in the Bible where we see the angels singing, praising our Heavenly Father. It brings glory to the Lord. I missed the chorus of voices that praised the Lord with me.
The biggest reason, however, that I’ve felt the need to be back in church is for the community that comes with belonging to a congregation.
And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near. –Hebrews 10:24-25
We are told to love on each other, meet each other and encourage each other. I felt the absence of this more than ever during that season of my life last year. My friends and my family were wonderful in my time of need. But there is something about having a church behind you, praying for you, and seeing to your needs. It’s the hands and feet of Christ serving for God in a way that only a church can do. It’s powerful. It’s humbling. It’s encouraging. It’s comforting.
After having attended church my whole life, this last year was the longest I’ve ever been out of church. And the absence of it reminded me of just how much church is necessary. This Sunday, I plan to go forward and join my church.
Maybe you haven’t found your church. Maybe you’re afraid to go. Maybe you’re afraid to sit alone in a pew (I know it can be scary sometimes). Let this week be the week you decide to find your church. If you’re looking, Iron Porch would be happy to give you some recommendations of some good churches in the area. And you’re always welcome to join me at First Baptist in Tallassee….it’s my new home.