I have been through seasons when I don’t feel like going to church. But the older I get, the more I realize that it’s not really about how I feel and whether or not I’m in the mood to go.
I don’t go to earn something. I go to gain something.
That sounds a bit selfish, I guess. But it’s true. I go seeking something. Seeking Him.
I am in desperate need of the presence of God. I long for Him to fill me, to make me more like Him, to lead me in paths of righteousness, to walk with me beside still waters, to restore my soul.
I go, despite the shame I feel after yelling at my kids, after fighting over some silly little matter with my husband, after ignoring a stranger in need.
I go, despite the fact that there are people there who I don’t connect with, who I don’t agree with, and maybe who I don’t even like to be around.
I go, despite the fact that my kids have been fighting and whining and would do better just sitting in their room all day then having to dress them and load them up for church.
I go because deep down, I know that the very act of worship changes me, that it fills me with more of Him and less of me, that it transforms my heart, mind and soul and replaces my worldly, selfish thoughts with heavenly, other-centered ones.
I often find that it is not the sermon or the music that lifts my gaze up to the Lord. It is the simple act of taking communion – that tangible reminder that we are invited to come to the table, every one of us, to receive His mercy.
There’s been many a sermon when I’ve checked out or made to-do lists for the week instead of paying attention and taking the message to heart. But it is during communion, when I see my fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord, who are struggling, just like me to live for Him and not for self, walk down the center aisle together in our beautiful sanctuary and say: I need You, Jesus. I can’t do this without You. I can’t love. I can’t forgive. I can’t be a ‘good person’ without you. So I take the bread and the wine. I receive His body and His blood that was poured out for me. And I remember, even just briefly, what He has done for me and my soul is filled with worship. I can say: thank you, Lord, for loving me enough to die for me.
During this time of year when it’s easy to feel sluggish on those dreary wintry days, I am going to choose to relish the simple habit of taking the bread and the wine, of pondering and meditating on the depth of that act and what it means on a daily basis for me.
How deep the Father’s love for us
How vast beyond all measure
That He should give His only Son
To make a wretch His treasure.