Since my recent posts have been on the importance of being in relationships with fellow believers of Jesus Christ within the church, I figured it couldn’t hurt to share some true stories of what that looks like. In recent weeks, I have read stories of young people who avoid church and their reasons. While I do not discount their stories, I must say that I find it heart breaking to hear believers who cannot find joy in fellowship with those who they will be spending eternity with in Heaven. I hope this post will encourage those who might be struggling to try again to find that joy.
So here are a few stories from my own experience of being a faithful church member and growing in fellowship with those Christians closest to me during my years on this earth.
First, let me start with a small background. My great grandpa was one of the founding members of our church after he landed here in America. It was and still is a small country church in the middle of nowhere (seriously, like nowhere!) So not only do I have spiritual family history with my church family but I have blood relative history which can be both a blessing and a curse depending on the day! 🙂 During my times living in areas other than here, I have been surrounded by other bodies of believers who have fulfilled all the exact same roles that my home church has so I don’t believe that you have to be a bonafide “member” of some church or denomination to benefit in any way with relationships with other Christians. Just a point of clarity.
Okay, so onto the true stories starting with when I was a kid. Truth be told, I am a nerd. No, really! 🙂 I was especially a Sunday School nerd. I knew crazy Bible trivia like no one’s business and I was six. One time during the Sunday School kid singing hour, I answered a bizarre random question that the teacher, Denis, put forth. Unfortunately, since I answered with all the clarity of six year old, and because he was slightly confused by how I answered it, he said that my answer was incorrect and moved on. I was a little bummed by it but really didn’t think that much of it. (Honestly, my little prideful heart knew I was right so I was probably mostly just smug that I knew something he didn’t-yeah, I was a great kid…)
Anyway, a few days later, our phone rings and Mom says it is for me. It was Denis calling to ask me to forgive him. He just realized that I had given the right answer all along and he was sorry that he said I was wrong. It was such a simple act, yet twenty some years later, here I am writing about it. His humbleness to apologize to me and be willing to admit a mistake taught me and my young prideful heart a HUGE lesson that I admit still clings to me. Plus, it has made me aware of how much little kids are affected by those Christian adults in their lives. They are watching and learning!
Another time, while my husband and I were surviving a crazy stressful job situation for him in a new area away from both our families during our first year of marriage, we were able to experience the power of connecting with a body of believers. To put it mildly, our first year of marriage was stressful and so full of changes that we were really feeling like we were in over our heads a lot of days. A lady that worked at Nick’s job came alongside us and reached out to us and brought us to her church which has become like our church home away from home. If it hadn’t been for her first steps of outreach, I seriously don’t know where we would be. It seemed like such a simple invitation to her but to us it was a lifeline both spiritually but also physically and emotionally that really helped give our marriage a solid foundation. God places Christians in our lives for those reasons too! He is awesome like that! 🙂
Another time, while I was still single and working at a worldview training camp one summer (my first summer fully away from my family) I remember feeling distant and unable to connect with anyone at first. Most of the other staffers were from large cities and very different backgrounds from my own. On our first night, during a silly getting to know you game, it became known that I had castrated calves on my family farm and ranch, moved hay bales by hand, and helped with C-sections on mama cows. I think they thought I was some female John Wayne or something. (Looking back, it is funny!) But those first few days had me feeling painfully aware of my differences. Then one of the other staffers made a point of talking to me and asking questions.And these weren’t the questions related to cattle or college courses or anything, there were honest questions about where I was in my walk with God currently, where I had recently seen God’s faithfulness, and how God had called me to be there at that ministry that summer. The depth of questions and conversations that came of those questions finally helped me to move beyond outer experiences to realize that my true connection with these people was in a common goal of reaching students for Christ. It pulled me into a summer of ministry and closeness to God unlike I can explain. And it all started because another Christian was willing to reach out and talk about more than the weather.
Okay, one more story for tonight. And it’s a story I can say repeats itself many times over. This morning, my husband and I didn’t want to get out of bed and get ready for church. It was cold, we could hear the wind blowing, we hadn’t slept great the night before, etc. etc. etc. But we got up and got going anyway, mostly out of sheer habit (that’s the beauty of a healthy habit, it keeps you going when you don’t want to!)
By the time we were out the door to church, we were already having a good discussion about an article we read and chuckling over our daughter’s silly antics. Then we arrived at church. Like I mentioned before, it’s a small church so everyone has to stop to say hi and smile at Laura and such. She, of course, rises to the occasion by showing off her little nose crinkles and blowing kisses. 🙂 The other mom at our church with younger children gave her a sheet of stickers to play with which she loved. We talked to those around us about the benefit the week before and how well it had turned out. We talked about Vacation Bible School in a few months. Then the actual church service began.
The children come up for a Children’s Story at one point during the service and today’s just happened to be on one of my favorite passages out of Matthew.You know, how Christians shouldn’t worry. God feeds the birds of the air and clothes the lilies of the fields. How much more will He care for us.And it spoke to me in a huge way. One of the reasons I hadn’t wanted to get out of bed was due to the fact I had been fretting during the night about details about the upcoming birth of our next child. It was silly details too, not even big stuff, but it had kept me awake. And here the Holy Spirit used this time to remind me of His faithfulness to always be with me and care for me and my family.
Then the sermon came. It was about being strong and courageous in the Lord’s power. It spoke exactly to both me and my husband. We talked about it for quite awhile following church as it was just the spiritual nourishment we had been needing to get us going again today. And God accomplished all this by bringing us into a time of fellowship with other Christians.
So, in closing, no, not every moment with other Christians is easy or uplifting but there are definitely a reason to keep seeking out times of fellowship with other believers. God has it there for a reason. Don’t miss out.
Okay, those are a few of my stories. Please share your stories in the comments. I would love to hear them!
Thanks for stopping by!