Dear Weary Wanderer,
You’ve been searching, trialling and waiting. In this season you feel disappointed. I know you’re agitated with man and the never ending search to find where you belong. I can hear you loud and clear- ‘It doesn’t have to be perfect. All I’m asking for is a community, friendships, God glorifying, biblically based…great worship, somewhere I can raise my kids….’ Am I asking for too much? Ah, when I think about all the things I really want in a church family, it’s always followed by a sigh. A sigh of lost hope. A reality check. Yep, they are all wonderful, good and RIGHT things to have- however, at the essence of every church is humanity. It’s important to keep this in mind, I’ll come back to this point soon.
Churches are lead by men and women who part and parcel (So I like to believe) are trying to do the will of God and create a safe space for people to worship and connect with one another after a hard week living in the world. I like to see it as our safe haven. Let me be clear here, church is first and foremost to worship God with other believers. We should leave feeling re-charged for the week ahead, ready and able to take on the grind and suffering of the world. Covered in the armour of God and ready for battle (figuratively).
In my 36 years of living I’ve seen church done well and church done very poorly. I’ve left church services thinking ‘why do they run the service in this way?’ Or ‘how are they caring for their congregation if they don’t cater for all people?’ Or even ‘I feel lonely, I’ve been here for years and still don’t know anyone.’ These comments ring true to many of us.
Reader, you might be struggling right now with your current church or ‘church hopping’ so to speak. Trying to find the right balance for you or your family. Can I encourage you with these simple words.
We were not meant for this world. Our home is not here, our spirits long for Jesus and Heaven. We are Heaven Bound.
Now that’s no excuse to stop meeting together at church. We cannot say, ‘Well I’ve tried, I can’t find a church family. I’ll wait now until I’m in heaven.’ My friend that is a harrowing thought and dangerous at that. We are creatures of habit and relationship. We crave love and we crave intimacy. We need to find a church home on earth.
Though it be temporary, rest assure your Heavenly Father knows your heart and its longings. He understands the waves of anxiety you might feel as you walk through those church doors, or the hurt and pain a fellow brother in Christ might have inflicted upon you and the thought of continuing at the same church is impossible. Jesus knows, Jesus gets you. He knows the inner workings of your heart. He knows when you don’t feel like your church is the place for you to worship anymore. He sees when you have given all you can to serve and love others and when it comes to you, no one is there for you… maybe? I don’t know. All I know is that these are the cry’s of my heart over the years. Or cry’s of a friend deeply needing a tender ear to hear and a heart willing to pray and stand firm for them in prayer and supplication.
If only you could find the perfect church now my friend. If only I was here to tell you, ‘LOOK, LOOK READER…I found the perfect church! It’s on the corner of I’m pulling your leg and watch my nose grow by the second.’ Ha! Truth is, there is no perfect church here on earth! None! Oh there are churches I have loved to visit (always the ones I have to travel overseas to enjoy) and there are churches I’ve been comfortable in. Perhaps too comfortable- forgetting to look outward to others in the community who might need to connect.
My friend, if you could take a moment, actually longer in prayer. Asking and seeking God for answers. Ask Him to clear your mind as to what you and your family are needing for a church family and where you can serve best. We’ve found over the years, looking around it’s always great research the churches in our area, listen to a few of their sermons, read up on their core values and beliefs. Attend at least a few times to get a good feel of the culture. That is unless you get a huge red flag upon the first visit… then my advice is RUN! (I’ve written about red flags in this Blogpost, but please don’t be as complying as we were. (You save yourself a world of messy tears!) AND TAKE YOUR TIME, OH WEARY WANDERER! There is a season for everything.
Sometimes our best memories and deepest connecting as a family has just been home church. Taking a break, regrouping and focusing on what God wants for our lives and how we ended up where we are. Be fed with worship music and sermons. These seasons are always wonderful. Embrace them. Embrace some time together. Doing your own Bible Studies.
Sometimes when we have been in and out of churches we felt embarrassed to tell friends or family. I felt pressured to find somewhere to go so I looked ‘Christian’ again. I was ashamed when we weren’t in church. As if something was wrong with me/us. I felt the pressure to not be honest about being absent from church. We felt the weight on our shoulders to tell others how much we loved attending church. It was all false… it was completely the opposite.
There was a time I didn’t want to go to church at all. I needed time to heal, to come back out of the depression and feel like I belonged again. That takes time. Do not rush that. Allow the Holy Spirit to work in you. Layer by layer restoring that which has been broken inside.
Oh Jennifer, where is your strength in Christ? My friend, can I encourage you to take charge of this season and just kindly and gently explain to people who might ask questions ‘we are taking a break to focus and ask God what church is best for me or our family at this time.’ See, it’s not that hard to do… However, don’t let it be for long. Let me be clear here. It’s also imperative you do not become complacent in this new routine. Do not delight in lazy Sundays with sleep-ins and long breakfasts. Yes, these are good for the mind and belly from time to time but they in no way feed your soul. Allow Jesus to take hold of your hand, your family and steer you into the right direction. To the right church for your family to grow, strengthen, serve, love and be a beacon to those around you.
Our spirits yearn and plead to be with our Heavenly Father to be united with Him. One day we will never feel let down, ashamed, hurt, wronged, an outcast or not worthy. Christ came to save us. He came to bring hope and to create order where there was none.
This is not my home, I am Heaven Bound.
Where my Wandering will finally cease.
Ecclesiastes 3 New International Version (NIV)
A Time for Everything
3 There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under the heavens:
2 a time to be born and a time to die,
a time to plant and a time to uproot,
3 a time to kill and a time to heal,
a time to tear down and a time to build,
4 a time to weep and a time to laugh,
a time to mourn and a time to dance,
5 a time to scatter stones and a time to gather them,
a time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing,
6 a time to search and a time to give up,
a time to keep and a time to throw away,
7 a time to tear and a time to mend,
a time to be silent and a time to speak,
8 a time to love and a time to hate,
a time for war and a time for peace.