Several months ago, our church had its first fellowship since the start of the pandemic. It was wonderful to gather together and get to know some of the people a little better. I’ll be honest, it was hard joining a church in a pandemic.
Late the summer before, we knew the Lord was calling us to move to a new church. For 10 years, we had been a part of our old church family. With our move several years ago, we knew this day would come, we just didn’t know when. So, for 2 1/2 years, we drove back and forth on Sundays to our old church.
Here’s the raw, unedited, transparent truth. The first couple of Sundays we visited at Highland, I was miserable. I had told God long ago, whatever your will is, Lord, I will follow. But, in this moment, I just could not accept the fact that He might be calling us to another church. Not away from my youth kids. Not away from my friends. Not away from the ministries I had given my all to.
One Sunday, I remember having to take several deep breaths to even convince myself to go in the doors. I got inside and I was just mad. Mad because of the color of the carpet. Mad about the pews being so low to the ground. Mad about the lighting, the music, the… every single detail just made me angry. I looked at my husband and even behind the mask, I could see it in his face. I knew the Lord was speaking to Him. I just knew it.
And so, I began to cry.
I cried that whole service. From beginning to end. I cried when we left, I cried when we got home and I cried that afternoon.
We hopped in the kayaks one afternoon for a little fishing and floating and Shaun talked away, non-stop, as he normally does. I just kept casting and reeling in. But then, he brought up the big fat elephant and asked what I thought about the church.
I just kept casting and reeling it back in.
“I’m pretty sure the Lord is calling us here. I know there’s a work for us.” But even as his words came out of his mouth, I couldn’t have disagreed more. I wasn’t convinced. I couldn’t even respond. I just couldn’t.
The next Sunday, the tears came again. The frustration, the anger, all of these emotions fought within me and I couldn’t even manage to sing one song.
We were back on the river again and Shaun brought it up once more. I just wanted to fish. I didn’t want to talk about it. I just wanted to relax!
“What do you think?”
I must have not been listening. His voice shook me out of my stupor and I tried to respond, but my heart was just so heavy. I felt a disconnect between us. How could the Lord be leading his heart here, when mine was still there? I mumbled back some reply about how we would know it was God’s will because He would give us both peace about.
And in that moment, I stopped. I realized how much I had been fighting any kind of peace God wanted to give me. I cried out to the Lord and prayed that He would change my heart. That His will would be done and that if He was calling us here that He would make that 100% clear to the both of us and that He would give me peace.
Shaun got a call from the pastor of the church and they chatted for a bit. I sat down in the office chair next to his recliner and I asked him what they talked about. He said they have been praying for workers in the church, leaders, and with tears streaming down his face, he named two areas that described us to a T.
I bowed my head in surrender and prayed. Your will, Lord.
That was it. Full surrender. I knew without a doubt that we were moving churches and, even though I was sad, there was complete peace in my heart.
We looked at one another and I no longer felt distance between us, but unity once again. The Lord made us one when we were united in marriage and we are better together.
We cried even more when we thought about telling our old church family. How would I tell my youth kids? How would I tell my friends that had become like brothers and sisters to me? How would we tell our dearest friends who were also our pastor and his wife? What would they say? What would they think?
We made the call to our pastor and his wife and, through tears, we shared what we felt the Lord was calling us to do. And you know what they said?
Calmly and with a little chuckle in their voices, they said, “Well, it’s about time y’all saw it. We knew that was coming. Actually, we didn’t think it would take this long.”
They weren’t mad. They weren’t upset. They didn’t burst into tears. They didn’t grieve.
We just laughed. Even our best friends knew it. Why couldn’t we have seen it? The torture I had been through as I battled the Lord seemed so silly now.
Every person we texted or called said the exact same thing. Of course, they all said they would miss us, but I was shocked at how many were not surprised.
The next Sunday, we joined our new church and told our new pastor and his wife that we were ready to serve.
So, when we had our fellowship, it had been almost a year since we joined the church. But it already felt like home. Even through a pandemic, God allowed us to make friends and get to know people in the church. He opened the door for me to lead a ladies bible study through zoom. This was the first time I had seen people without their masks! Haha! But I got to know these special women and share in studying God’s word! He also allowed Shaun the opportunity to share in leading worship. I’ve been able to help bring in some of our dear friends from Lifeword and BMA Missions to speak at our church and lead in Vacation Bible School.
But that day, I finally got to sit down and chat with my friend, Devin, and her husband, Ben, about their goat and their upcoming vacation. I was able to talk and get to know Mrs. Lucille who, I found out, loves coconut and blackberries just like me! We talked about her chickens and those delicious half-moon pies that I’m going to convince her to teach me to make. And I got a kiss from little Foster with cookie icing all over his face! It was so good to be with other believers. It was good to worship the Lord together. It was so good to pray at the altar together for our country and our church.
The Lord knows we are better together.
“Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)
Jesus shared with the disciples about a coming day where He would be with them. But it wouldn’t be His physical body as it was at that moment. Jesus was speaking of the coming of the Holy Spirit. True unity can only come by the Spirit of God.
The pandemic has changed church. People have fallen away by the droves. No longer do we find them in the pews of the sanctuary or in the classrooms of Sunday School. If we are being honest, Covid has become an excuse for many as they’ve given up their commitment to the Lord and His local church. We can go to Wal-Mart, our workplaces, the ballpark, the gas station and, of course, the Dollar General, but we don’t feel safe inside the doors of the church?
Why is it so important for us to get back to the church?
The Lord knows we are better together. United, we will stand; divided, we will fall.
Our children need to be taught scripture. They need to know what the Bible says and understand it to be truth. The world will fill them with garbage, parading sin before their eyes, and lure them with temptations that lead to sin. And not just your children. We, as adults, face this every day. If we have the church, we won’t fight alone. We pray together. We learn together. We cry, we laugh, we grow, together.
If you want to see this nation turn around, if you want to see it thrive once again, get you and your kids back in church. We need the Lord, and His scripture is true! We are better together!