This post has been awhile in the making. I've hesitated to post it only because I don't want the uncertainties of my own life to cause uncertainties in yours. I know I'm not on a spiritual pedestool, but some people are under the assumption that I am. And I know how painful it is when you put someone on a spiritual pedestool and then they fall off. It's jarring to one's own soul. So, we'll establish this one fact right here - Brenda's not God. Good? Ok. We continue. :)
I'll start from the beginning and give you the rapid fire story of my testimony. My family and I were discussing something spiritual (I forget what) on the way home from church one Wednesday night when I was 7. I can remember sitting in the back seat and thinking THIS I have to have. I can remember feeling the Lord tugging on my heart even then and I knew I was missing something. We prayed that night and I believe with all my heart, that night sealed my fate as a child of God. I believe in immediate and forever salvation. I think once we're His, if we're really His, then we're His forever. My brain can't wrap around that any other way.
And I've pretty much lived for Him ever since. I grew up in a Christian home, went to a Christian college and went to church every Sunday with friends who loved the Lord and lived for him. You never really appreciate a spiritual nest until you get kicked out of it!
I'd say my faith wavered just a little bit when I moved to Georgia. Finding your way in a new state with new people and no real church family was a little unsettling. But I made it through that and got involved some in a church. And then over the past few years my work schedules have changed to the point that Wednesday night church is never possible and Sunday church is rarely possible. I feel called to the jobs God has for me which isn't a defense, it's just the truth. Even though I think people should be in church and church has a great purpose in the life of the believer-somebody has to work in healthcare on Sundays! Bottom line.
And I'm at peace with that. But I think in the past year or so the mixture of those things have manifested themselves in A. A lack of assurance of faith and B. A lack of confidence in faith. I think sometimes when the same questions rattle around only in your own heart and soul it just becomes a revolving mess. Questions and concerns were meant by nature of humanity and the intelectual ability to be shared in community and sorted through under the power of the Holy Spirit sent to help us in our time of need.
And we could say my spiritual community at the moment is lacking at best!
I think that's why I'm so drawn to Robert Benson and Brennen Manning. People that by circumstance paved their own way. When the typical church was not meeting their needs and was more of a social club than a spiritual fortress, they made their own church. They made a way essentially where there was no way.
If you asked me if I think people need to be in church I would say YES. I could argue for pages that church is necessary to the growth of any believer. I believe there are so many benefits to being in church.........
I also believe that where 2 or more are gathered He is there in the midst of them.
Can I say I've had the best "church" experiences in the past few weeks - Listening to the testimony of a friend encouraged me that my steps are laid out by Him and planned to perfection. Time together with a pastor this morning at Starbucks brought great refreshment to a weary soul and the assurance that there are answers even within the questions. Truly hearing the heart of a friend in need reminded me of the compassion God has for me and has called me to give to others both in an occupation and in my life. And watching a friend painfully go the opposite way of Christ reminded me how scary it is to fall away from Him even for a moment. I was more motivated than ever to protect and make priority my relationship with Him.
Is that a cop out for not going to church? No. But sometimes you have to find Him where He can be found. I love when Jesus tells the disciples after an amazing moment in Scripture....AS YOU GO. Not stay here and bask in my glory until I come back again, but as you go. As you go live your life, as you go about your business, as you go and do what God has called you to do. And that's where I'm at. As you go............
I'm taking Him with me. I'm not going to feel guilty that my current place in life does not allow me a regular church schedule. I am going to look for opportunites around every corner to connect with the community of fellow believers at large. I'm trusting that God wants me in a form of fellowship even if it isn't "church" as we call it.
And as far as assurance goes, I think it's a good sign to question once in awhile. I just want to be so sensitive to the Lord that I know when something's off. I think there are more answers in the questions than I presently realize. And I was reminded this morning by Pastor David that in order to keep our lives in check we need to sometimes go back to the basics. God loves you, He saved you because you asked Him to, Fruit of the Spirit should be manifesting itself in your life in positive ways, and we should have a heart that even though it is clothed in humanity currently is sensitive to the sin in our lives.
Example-We're going to mess up, but we should feel badly about it at the end of the day. I think it's a problem when we get to the place that we acknowledge something went wrong and immediately think, So what? Hard hearts are a dangerous path and I continue to pray that God would make my heart and KEEP my heart pliable to his working. Clay in the potter's hand looks messy at first, painful in the middle, and beauty refined in the end. Perfection because of HIS work. Which by the way will not happen until we are there with Him!
That to say I'm at a very unique place with the Lord at the moment. I think confidence and reassurance will return as I do what I know to do. Spend time with Him, spend time with believers who are edifing to my faith, and trust Him in the process. Somehow knowing that perfection is not attainable here on Earth takes the pressure off to always be perfect at the moment!
All that to say, He's working not just in my life but in yours as well. He's comfortable with the questions. He understands our humanity. He wants better for us even more than we want it for ourselves.
I so appreciate those of you who share your walks with the Lord with me all the time. It's more encouraging than you realize. Praying today that God would be in the midst of your questions and grant you peace where there are no answers. :)