I sat on my bed Sunday morning and felt a stirring in my heart. The Holy Spirit was at work and boy, did He have a job to do. He had to uncover the ugly in me to allow the beauty of His grace to unfold.
Oh, there had been a bitterness brewing. You know that bitterness, don't you? It's real and it takes on a life of it's own quickly. Bitterness takes root in your heart before you even realize the seed was planted. How is it planted? Usually by a hurt. At least that's where this bitterness came from.
It wasn't even an intentional hurt. More likely an unknown, except for in my heart. Why do we do that to ourselves?
I hadn't been to church in a while. Well, more like over five months. Closer to six. This is not the norm for me. I am a girl who hasn't missed church in twenty years unless I am too sick to get myself together. I LOVE church! It's home. I think that's why my hurt grew out of control.
For me, I felt like not many noticed I wasn't there. So, if no one noticed, surly no one cared. Isn't that just how Satan grabs us? We all want to be loved. We want to be valued. If we are missing we want someone to notice our absence.
As I sat there on my bed with my coffee in hand, I heard the Lord. Oh my, isn't that what usually happens? We get so comfortable in our bitterness, and the last thing we want to hear from the Lord is, "You need to forgive. Get yourself up and go to church." Ouch..I must tell you. I wanted to ignore Him. I wanted to crawl back under the warm comfort of my quilts and just forget. But that's not what the Lord is about. He is about bringing healing. He is about making us whole. Part of growing in the Lord is surrender. I wasn't surrendering any longer. I was holding on to the hurt and that was holding me back.
Yep, as that hurt grew, I heard Satan's whispers, "So, where's all your encouragement? Why isn't she calling you back? If she really cared about you don't you think she'd have lunch with you?" Friends, the list goes on and on with Satan, doesn't it? He can come up with some stuff that just knocks us over. Pretty soon, we begin to believe it. No matter how much the Lord is telling us to get ourselves to church, we are going to stubbornly stand and say, Nope!
About then I heard from Him once more. "The prayers of one are mighty. The prayers and kindness of a few outweigh the unkind hearts of many." He had me there. That's when the tears began to flow and I praised Him for not giving up on me. You all know it's true. We don't go to church on a Sunday and then we skip the next. Pretty soon, it just doesn't matter if we go or not. We stop making excuses and just ignore the whole thing. Here's the kicker. Satan isn't out attacking those people who are not going to church. He's attacking those who are going. He doesn't want you in church! He sure didn't want me there.
Now, I haven't been away from the Lord. I haven't shelved my Bible. I just wasn't wanting to go to church. Can you understand? I think many of you can. That's why I am sharing with you today. I could use the excuse of, "Well, we are searching to see where the Lord wants us", all I wanted. But the truth was, we were just hurt.
Friends, we don't go to church for any other reason than to worship our Lord and Savior and be fed the Word! It's when we allow all the other stuff to get in the way that a problem begins to brew and pretty soon we are hating on everyone and we have it in our mind that no one cares and we are all but forgotten. Satan has a way of making everything seem bigger than what it is.
Yes, we go to fellowship with other believers, but that is not our focus. We always seem to focus on those not encouraging us and cheering us on, more so than those who are. Why is that? I don't think it's because we want to be noticed or want attention in that way, we just want to be accepted and valued. We want to feel equal to our neighbor sitting next to us in the pew.
Was I hurt that not many really seemed to notice I wasn't there? Sure, but hello? Who do I think I am? I don't think people are pulling in to church and hurrying to the door to see if Robin Prater has arrived. LOL You all know what I mean. People get busy. Not just God busy, but busy. Not everyone notices, especially when most have their own hurts taking root in their heart. Life is hard and we can just make it harder by adding misery where it simply wasn't meant to be.
I must tell you, I went to church and was blessed with the most beautiful song, sang by one of the sweetest children I know. I think that blessed my heart more than anything else. The Lord knows just what we need, doesn't He?
I was hugged by those who love me and I was able to wrap my arms around those I had been missing. I could have sat there and wondered about those who didn't reach out to me, but what would be the point in that? So, what am I saying? Focus on what's most important. The Lord Jesus Christ. Focus on those who love you and you know what? Love those who don't seem to take notice of you, whether you are there or not.
I was able to kneel at the alter. The very spot my heart had been missing. The message of the sermon? Love is a choice. I believe the Lord knew just what He was doing. Doesn't He always?
As a whole, people can just be walking band aids. We carry so many hurts that pretty soon instead of letting them air out and heal, we just keep bandaging them up. Covering up the hurt. Healing cannot happen that way, sweet friends.
It's time to allow God to heal our broken hearts. Haven't you carried your hurt with you long enough?
Do you know what? People did notice. I spent a lot of time wallowing in my hurt and yes, it hurt, but it was a hurt I wasn't doing anything about. See, here's the thing. Our church family, is just that. Family. We are imperfect in every way and we make a mess of things. But what are we to do? Just maybe it's time to walk across the aisle instead of waiting for the other person to make the first move. Maybe it's time to allow forgiveness to wash over you.
Friends, no church is perfect. You are not going to find one. Church isn't filled with perfection. Each pew is filled with sinner after sinner. Yes, we are saved by grace, but we are still sinners. Many times others don't even know there's an issue. With so much going on today, how is everyone to know unless we express our hurt?
I am blessed with sweet friendships. There was one who wasn't giving up on me anytime soon. Through her prayers, texts, and visits, she loved me through. That's what we are to do for our brothers and sisters in Christ. We are to love one another through the bumps that knock us off our feet. Praise Jesus!
Sunday is coming just right around the corner. What are you waiting for?
"As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace." Ephesians 4:1-3
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you." Ephesians 4:31-32