A few years ago I was a Christian. I believed. However, I didn’t really see the need to attend church regularly, or even belong to a church. Sure, we went to church, here and there, if it fit into our schedule, but it wasn’t a priority.
The day that a friend at a wedding invited us to church (a church that Dan and I had been to before), my life completely changed, and I feel pretty comfortable saying Dan’s life changed too.
The past month or so I I have been thinking about the differences between those first few services we attended and now. The differences are so wide that I had to put them into words.
Then: we brought Ina into the service with us and let her sleep at our feet, not really trusting the “strangers” in the nursery to take care of her.
Now: we happily drop Ina off at the nursery, she runs through the door on her own will into the arms of one of her favorite people who reads books to her
Then: Dan and I walked straight to our seats, which were in the back corner, and sat down, not really talking to anyone
Now: Dan and I meet at our seats, which are in the front row in the center aisle, seconds before the service starts, because we have been talking to friends
Then: I really dreaded the beginning of the service when we had to shake everyone’s hand. So much, in fact, that I tried to get there late so I wouldn’t have to do it.
Now: I leave my seat and try to span the entire room, truly happy to welcome people to this place I love.
Then: I took notes during the sermon, if I remembered to grab a pen. I only filled in the blanks provided.
Now: If I forget a pen, I find one. I cover my outline with notes, writing down the side margin, trying to absorb every ounce of advice and wisdom provided.
Then: I listen to the sermon, but don’t really hear it. I think I am a good person and don’t really need much “fixing.”
Now: I feel like our pastor is talking directly to me. I cry. Dan cries. We are the criers almost every week.
Then: I sang the worship music, only if I knew that no one else around could hear me. Watching people lift their arms up in praise made me extremely uncomfortable. I knew I could never do that.
Now: I sing my heart out in worship. I lift my hands up rarely, not because I am embarrassed to do so, but because when I do I can barely physically contain the thankfulness and love that comes over me. I try every week but am afraid I will literally fall to my knees crying.
Then: We put $20 into the offering bag, thinking it was more than enough.
Now: We watch the offering bag go by, because we have a direct transfer every week of 10% of our income from our bank account to the church. I swell with pride and amazement when I watch what our church can do with the money its members provide.
Then: We leave when the service is over, trying not to make eye contact with anyone at the activity tables. We don’t want them to ask us to do something. We are busy.
Now: We stay at our seats and talk to lots of people. We thank the pastor who gave the sermon. We thank the worship team. I talk to someone from my Daniel Plan study about her progress. Someone else approaches Ina and makes her giggle. We see a couple from our small group and talk to them about their week. We leave right before the next service starts.
Then: On the way home, I look in my bulletin at the small groups starting to meet up. I ask Dan if he is interested. He says no.
Now: We lead a small group, sometimes two. I fight the urge to grab the mic from the pastor and beg every single person there to join a small group. I want to tell them what a difference it has made in my life and I want to see it help them too.
Then: I prayed once in a while, when I really needed help.
Now: I pray a lot and try to thank God for as many things as possible in my life.
Then: I thought I had a relationship with God
Now: I feel like I am just beginning a relationship with God, and every day I want to know Him more and more.
If you are a believer, but don’t attend church regularly, I am asking you to reconsider.
If you aren’t a believer, email me. I would love to introduce you to someone.