Stuff I Wish You’d Quit Saying – Get Back In Church…
Today, I had this on my list. But I just couldn’t. I feel as though I have been nothing but honest with you… so I admit, I am struggling with church. As my manuscript closed and I sent it off to Harvest House I knew I would soon be exposed. I am an excommunicated Mormon, a displaced Catholic, awkwardly worshipping at an instrumental Church of Christ (that means toe-taping.) In the course of the last 7 months, Jesus has shown up for “church” when I needed HIM more than ever. I am most convicted, the checklist, or as my sister calls it “Spiritual Fit Bit” that I had deemed a necessity in my search for the Real Jesus was a man-made list of rules and regulations. So as the emails and comments poured in with requests for this 31-day series I knew I was in no place to write this one. I give you instead, my little sister, Stacey Todd. The original wizard of snark, she is without Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. In raw and candid form here is one mom of many and her 411 on, “Get Back In Church.”
I remember a particularly difficult time in my life when a sweet, well-meaning friend, tried to offer up her support and advice by telling me “you need to get back to church!” Uggg…I cannot tell you how that phrase makes me cringe. Don’t get me wrong, church can be great. I am not saying “don’t go to church”. Good things come from church. Fellowship, worship, communion, if you are Baptist, potlucks.
When I was on hospital bed rest with my 4th child, my church family was nothing short of amazing. Fueled by strong hormonal waves, worry, hospital food, and loneliness, tears would pour uncontrollably every time another member of my church would come visit me in the hospital, bring meals to my family, or run errands for me. It was truly the body of Christ at work, and I will never forget it.
So, flashback to the advice of my friend. She was right in that we had not been “in church”. My husband was living in Dallas, working, trying to start a new company. I was living in Houston at my parent’s home with our 4 kids in an attempt to save money. I was working from home, homeschooling, and trying minute by minute not to lose it completely. My husband would drive to Houston every weekend to see us. Our marriage was not in trouble; we were just apart, in transition. We were financially strapped. We were being faithful to what we believed God wanted us to do. But, it was hard. It was really tough to be away from each other, and not know when it would ever end. To top it off, we had just been through a very tough church split.
The split took place in a church we loved, with people we adored. We had seen hypocrisy and ugliness. We had been hurt. It was like a bad break-up. And I wasn’t ready for a rebound relationship. My friend’s words, “you need to get back in church” stung. Contrary to my friend’s advice, church is not what I needed in that moment. I needed Jesus. Period. And the good news is, I already had Him. I had just needed to call on my Father, ask for peace, comfort, guidance, and the gift of faith, where my faith was lacking.
I needed someone to remind me that He lives in me – the Anointed One lives in me. And I did not need to go to church looking for Him, nor do you. He is in you. Call to Him and He will answer. We have an extensive checklist as Christians. It is our modern Fit-Bit mentality; a spiritual Fit-Bit if you will. Quiet time, go to church, prayed for friend, worshiped, held hands high, partook in communion, paid my tithe, BUZZ….BUZZ….BUZZZZ…..10,000 spiritual steps completed! You are awesome! The satisfaction is great – but fleeting.
In Philippianss 3:8 Paul compares it to rubbish, which we would translate as trash, but the Greek translation (skubala) is actually for excrement, or dung. Poop.
8 Indeed, I count everything as loss because of cthe surpassing worth of dknowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I ehave suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ
Being “in church” so I appear like a “good Christian” to get closer to God (who lives in me, so how does that work?) is poop. My relationship with Him has nothing to do with me, what I am doing, or not doing, or where I am doing it. If I have accepted Him, I am complete, lacking nothing. If I feel lacking, it is not because I need church. It is because I need to remember who I am, who I belong to, and believe He loves me without condition. If you have a church you love, that brings you joy, where you love to see God’s people, sing with them, pray with them, and where your spirits mingle, then GO THERE, and GO OFTEN!
I am happy to say I have a church like that now. What a gift from God, what a tremendous blessing, one that I waited many, many years to experience! But, in the time I did not have this church, I stressed, worried and fretted.
Why can’t we find a church?
What about my kids?
They have to learn all the Bible stories and little songs!
I can’t remember them all!
Father Abraham had many sons….I can’t remember the words!?!?
I was tormented by the lack of church home in my life and my kid’s lives. So, we tried them all.
The community Bible church where we watched the sermon on a giant TV screen and had no human interaction, the mega-church with 5,000 members that felt a little like a rock concert (especially with the police escorted parking.) The Lutheran church that had real cognac for communion wine (with no warning), causing my husband to spit it across the room. It was exhausting. Waking up early, dressing 4 little kids, going to a new church every week, filling out info cards, shaking hands, telling, and re-telling our story. Why I lived here and Dean lived there, why we lived with my parents, and when we hoped to be together again. Wow. Misery. And for what? What favor was I doing myself? My family? Or God for that matter?
I was missing the point.
When I looked at church as a box on my checklist it lost all its glory and purpose. It’s for me, not for Him. He doesn’t need me to go to church. He is fulfilled. He is not worried, mad, or turning His back on me when I sleep through the 8:00 service. I need to go to church to learn, be encouraged, prayed for, and pray with other believers. To believe He is made to do something because of my actions or which church I am attending is, well, laughable.
If you go there looking for Him, you can find Him there, but if you don’t go there looking for Him, you can find Him just the same. Seek Him, and you will find Him. And He will lead you where you need to be. Oh, and for your sake, I hope He leads you to one with a great potluck.
May your floors be sticky and your calling ordained, Stacey Todd
Stacey and her husband Dean live on the same ranch with as Justin and me. Together they have four children. Jayden, Audrey, Emma, and Riley (a known vandal.) They are active in the homeschooling community with basketball, dance, and Classical Conversations. They love to cook and entertain friends and family and read my blog! Thanks Space Case! You’re simply the best. J
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened… Matthew 7:7-8
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