I walked into the church building last night like I always do to go to church. We were running late, so while I parked the car, Trudy got the boys checked in to their classes. We met in the large hallway that led to the sanctuary. Once I had the night's program guide in hand, I remembered that this was going to be a worship-only service. I expected to be singing most of the night and maybe having some devotional-type words, some scriptures relating to the music and prayer in between songs. Boy was I wrong. And boy was I caught off guard. I was completely unprepared for what God was going to do in my heart last night.
Turns out, we ARE singing worship songs, but that's not all. There will be no sermon. Instead, as God's family at Lakepointe Church, we are focusing on where our relationship with God is - where we have put Him in our lives. What we are allowing sin to do to our lives. What we are allowing worry, stress, jealousy, you name it do to our relationships with our family and with God.
There were 4 opportunities to do this as we reflected on where we are at. One was the Lord's Supper. One was writing a confession on a card and laying it at the foot of a simple wooden cross. One was lighting a candle for someone we are hoping and praying will come to Christ. And one was writing a praise on a white board that showed our gratitude to God.
The Lord's Supper is always a time of repentance for me. Not because the pastor stands up their and threatens me that I should not be taking communion if I haven't repented, but because it is a time for me to reflect on what a horribly awesome sacrifice my God made so I could be in His presence. It always brings me to my knees - and I am not talking about prayer here - I am talking about deep and abiding grief over His suffering and my own selfishness in how I have been living my life - how truly far away I have run from this Person who gave everything He had to see to it that I could live with Him in eternity.
This time though, was different. I feel as though God may have finally woken me up. I have often found myself repenting and rededicating my life to Christ. And that's a good thing because it stops you from doing some really stupid things. But this time, He laid bare before my eyes, just what I was doing to Him when I chose to sin even as I knew what I was doing was wrong. It's a simple as that. But it's also complex and hard to describe. When you have a million and one things swirling through your brain like I do most of the time, it's hard to focus on just one thing - one moment. But it became crystal clear to me that simply rededicating my life once again was not where it was at. I just simply wrote the sin I was most upset and embarrassed by on the card, and I went and laid it at the foot of the cross and I let it represent the rest of my sorry life I have been busy living lately. I didn't really utter a "sorry" or anything. I just acknowledged that I knew what I had done was wrong and that I knew God knew as well. And I asked Him to help me overcome it. I have never felt so broken and alone as I did at that moment for some reason. I was in anguish and in tears as walked over to the table to pick up my communion elements. My wife and I took communion together, she prayed over the "body" - I over the "blood". She was eloquent, I in my aguish blathered something short about being thankful for Christ sacrifice. It was at once a very awkward time between my wife and I and a very heart-wrenching time between God and I. But it was necessary.
As I think back on last night, I realized that after I had went through the heart-wrenching experience of repentance, that the next 2 "activities" (for lack of a better term) were the beginnings of a rebooting process. A rebooting of a life with the right priorities spiritually-speaking.
My wife and I made our way back to the white boards so we could write on them something we were grateful for. I have been experiencing some fear and anxiety lately about what has been going on at work. I wrote that I thanked Him for the fear and anxiety of the process of wondering whether or not I would be employed or not after the first of the year. It's not a very comfortable process, but it's a necessary process to remind me that everything I am, that I have, that I get to do - it's all from God and all dependent on God and His Will for my life. I also thanked Him for the fact that no matter what, I would always have Jesus - He would always be there - unchanging and eternal. From an emotional standpoint - it was very freeing.
We then made out way up to the front to light a candle. The point of that candles are to ask God to change the heart of those we are praying for that are lost. I lit two candles: one for a wayward family member, and one for a friend who is not currently in God's family.
Both of these activities were the first steps, I realized, to regaining my spiritual feet. To be thankful for something God has given me (the white board praise) and to be praying for another's salvation (the lit candles). I am not sure there are 2 more important activities in your day to day life as a Christ-follower than to be thankful and to be praying.
The reorganizing part of this doesn't have much to do with what happened last night - at least on it's surface. My wife and I are beginning the process of making plans for our family's future. The plans are for where we will be at in any given category in 3, 5 and 10 years, The categories range from education, career and money to college, our walks with God and our health. Until last night though, the category labeled "Spiritual" was just that: a category. Not now. Not since last night. Now it will be THE category that every other category revolves around. It just goes that if we are dependent on God for our very breaths that we take, we need to make sure our walks with Him our thriving. By thriving, I don't mean successful. By thriving I mean we are plugged in to God - living every moment in His presence - and living as if every moment may be the one He chooses to be our last one on earth. That means much prayer. Much knowledge (Bible). And being a light to those around us - a light that draws them to God.
I am still working through all that I experienced last night. But I do know one thing - He was trying to get a hold of me - as He has all along - and He finally did it last night. This I cannot deny. My prayer is that somehow this experience will resonate with me like never before and become a lasting remembrance for God to use to send me back to when I get off track.
morning song. - It happens every morning. The music is there. Going to sleep is always challenging for me. Laying down the lists and the thoughts and the ideas and the car...
6 years ago