We have been here at camp for 3 years (this past May). And in that time we have not consistently been to church.
We went to a baptist church in Kerrville a few times, a Methodist church once, and a Presbyterian multiple times (and we thought about joining that one but I had so many hang ups with doctrine that I just couldn’t). Also, I went to the First Baptist Church in Rocksprings once and was NOT a fan (plus I had heard so many bad things about the pastor that I just didn’t feel content with the thought of going again).
I also want to add that some of my issue is that I have changed my view of some things and have also struggled with quite a bit of bitterness over the years because of hard stuff that has happened in my life (including Joey’s suicide, abuse, bullying, my mental illness and alcoholism, etc). Also, I had some reservations about church because of some things that have happened… mostly in the baptist world. But overall I agree with their doctrine and theology so there’s that.
There are so many variables, but I just assumed we would never find the church where we felt at home (like we have in the past). So we kind of just decided to settle on doing “church” with the fam at home on Sundays.
A few months ago I found out that the First Baptist Church got a new pastor and that he is awesome. I watched a few videos of him that were shared by a church member and I decided I wanted to hear him in person. Still it took a while to convince myself to go.
Robert told me that he wants us to find a church that I feel comfortable going to even if he’s working and can’t go (which happens less because he starts only working one weekend a month in October). I thought about all of my options and decided that the First Baptist Church in Rocksprings was a good option for that. So this past Sunday I decided it was time to try it. I decided and wasn’t willing to look back. Usually I come up with an excuse to stay home because I like to sleep. Haha. But this time I made up my mind.
Robert was working so this was my chance to see how I felt about it.
I had zero reservations about going which felt like a sign that this may be “the one.” As soon as I stepped foot in the building I was greeted with a hug from a friend and others seemed happy for us to be there (including some kids that the kids go to school with). Almost every person, stranger or not, came up and talked with us. The pastor’s wife is amazing and she had so many good things to say.
The sermon was right on. I learned so much and there was quite a bit of depth to his sermon. God spoke to me through him, and I have totally missed that. I have needed that for a long time and didn’t know how much that part of my life was missing. I didn’t realize how much of an impact church had on my life until I found a church where I feel at home (again). And this was just after one time of going.
Here is what he talked about and what I learned:
Along these same lines…
I started an online Bible study with a friend on prayer. The study was written by Anne Graham Lotz, Billy Graham’s daughter. It is so good and teaches me a way to dig into God’s word on my own and hear His voice through it. I can apply it to all scripture in the future, even when I’m done with it. It has been a long time since I’ve been consistent to be in God’s word on my own so it has been a welcomed study.
And on Monday, October 1st, we’re re-starting our Bible study here at camp on Judges. It’s great because I get a lot of the history and see how Jesus is woven into the whole Bible, even in the old testament. I host this at my house, and I love having women here, digging deep into God’s word. The women that consistently come feel like my tribe. I can be myself with them and just feel like they love me for me.
So what’s the lesson that I’ve learned this week?
I miss God’s word, fellowship with His people, and the teaching of a pastor in a church that loves well. I’m realizing that bitterness is hard on my heart and it’s time to let it go. I’m realizing that it’s time to be a light in a dark world, sharing Jesus with all even when it’s hard. I feel like because of all that I’ve been through, His word, love, grace, mercy, joy, and peace are even more real and evident in my life. I want to use the difficult times for His glory and will.
I would love to talk with you about your struggles with the church, with God’s word, or with the hard things that have happened in your life. I have gone through it all and have come out on the other side. I pray that you would feel like you can talk with me. I’m not surprised by anything. I have been to rehab, go to AA weekly, go to counseling, etc, and I feel like I’ve heard it all (I’m sure there are things I haven’t heard, but I can handle it). And I won’t think any less of you. I have my own stuff and baggage that I carry and I am learning to let go of it a little at a time. I’m here. I hear you and I can show you unconditional love.
Thanks for sharing your struggles with church! I’m coming out of a season of anger and hurt by the church after a very complicated couple of years. God drew very close to me during that time, and I have felt very loved and cared for by Him, but my relationship with the church has been tense and turbulent. I felt a tremendous sense of betrayal. We have just now stepped into a new church from a completely different denomination and with a completely different feel. I am finding it to be a very healing experience. I hope you find healing with this new faith community as well. I keep thinking about how often in the moments when we feel the greatest loss, God is preparing something even better for us. I pray this is what we both experience as we continue to walk forward in faith.
I’m so appreciate of your comments. You don’t even know :-). Yes, I have had some major issues in the past with the church (in a few different areas) and I’ve tried to remember that the people in a church are just humans trying to figure this thing out. So I don’t necessarily hold bitterness towards them per se. Honestly? Two things. I have had a lot of bitterness towards God Himself for allowing certain things to happen. In my life and the lives of others. It has taken me a long time to come out on the other side and see things in a different light. I remember the college days when I had such a pure view of God, His word, and His people. I’ve gotten jaded over the years. But I’m learning. Also I have had to throw off certain expectations and decide what’s most important: truth and fellowship. If those things are happening then it’s right for us. I’m excited!