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An Experience

by on June 5, 2017

Church_pews,_Old_Brick_Church,_Mooresville,_AL,_image_by_Marjorie_Kaufman_01

I love my church.  It’s not a perfect church, but it’s mine and in all its imperfections sometimes the soul is stirred in a unique way.  Tina visited for the first time back in March.  Here is her story.

 

An Experience – By Tina Kay

9:07am

 

It’s Sunday, the 5th of March, I’m already running seven minutes behind for my hour drive to a church I’ve never been too.  And for the whole 56 miles I’m questioning myself, “Why am I doing this long drive when I have a church I already attend just 3 minutes down the road from my house?”

 

Church services are always predictable.  It starts with an energetic “good morning”, and into an upbeat song.  Followed with two to three more upbeat songs.  Something to wake the congregation from their sleepy Sunday slumber until the free coffee found in the foyer kicks in. Which, I have recently begun to question myself, “How do I focus and worship God when I’m constantly sipping this suddenly amazing coffee that is so warm and comforting in my hand?”

 

The worship segment then would continue with two to three “slow” songs.  Unless worship is interrupted with the upmost important church bulletin announcements and of course the dreaded “greet the person next to you” suggestion.  Of which you will never say a word to them again.

 

Continuing on with the “slow worship songs”, something to stir the people to “worship”.  After service you will hear from the congregates “worship was amazing today”.  The next song will bring about the tears in their eyes.  After all they need to have an excuse for the tissues that are found under the first seat nearest the aisle.

 

Finally, after a long one hour drive of almost dozing off because I wasn’t able to stop and get coffee without being more late then I already was.  I thought no worries, I’ll grab a cup of coffee when I walk in.

 

I pulled up to a humble house building.  I wasn’t greeted with the aroma of free coffee in clearly marked “decaf” and “regular” canisters next to a basket overflowing with crumpled dollar bills labeled coffee donations.

 

Instead I was greeted with teeth!  Yes, I was greeted with a smile.  Sad to say, but I’m not used to seeing a smile like this when I walk up to church doors.

 

So mind you, I was running behind so I’m walking in just as church begins.  Yet I still receive more smiles when I come inside.  I easily found a place to sit unlike my other experiences of walking up and down the aisle feeling like an idiot because I can’t find an empty seat as everyone just stares at you.  Or if in some cases there is an usher to help you find a seat and the embarrassment of using hand motions to signal, “yes, only one!”  I still come to church ALONE!  No thanks to the church being so huge that I hardly ever see the same person more than once.

 

10:00am

 

Well, let’s do church… wait, I realize, where’s the musicians?  Oh, we’re praying first, okay. After catching myself start to drift off, I think, are we STILL praying or did I miss where the pastor transitioned from prayer to speaking?  I quickly glance up in a panic to make sure I’m not the only one with my head still bowed and hands folded.  Nope, we’re STILL praying…

 

10:26am

 

I hit the home button on my iPhone to see it flash 10:26am. Twenty six minutes later and we are still praying!  Now, I suddenly feel guilty… do I even spend this much time in my prayer life…?

 

“Your hymn books are under the seats” the pastor says as everyone stands.  Did I just hear that correctly? Hymn books?  Is my horse and carriage waiting outside for me?  And where did I set my bonnet?  Please tell me it’s only for a song or two.  But wait… there’s still no band or instruments up there.  This doesn’t sound promising.

 

10:35am

 

I suddenly remember the service goes till 12:00pm. It’s only thirty minutes or so in… this is gonna be a long ride.  Especially since my daughter has been squirming next to me saying she’s bored for the 100th time!

 

Why not put her in child’s class you ask?  Well that’s because this church doesn’t believe in that.  I thought it was a good idea and was actually excited about it until as you guessed it, “I’m bored!”  “I want to go home!” “I don’t like it here!” All came out of my child’s “I don’t care who hears me” mouth.

 

I didn’t get goosebumps.  I didn’t get excited about the worship and gawk in awe at the amazing musicians.  Which always makes me miss my acoustic Taylor 714ce with mother of pearl inlays… sigh… I wasn’t moved by the “emotional” chords we musicians know how to play. I wasn’t blinded with a display of flashing lights.  Heck there wasn’t even a stage with skillfully coordinated colors and decorations with hot lights that always makes the pastor sweat.

 

No, instead…..………..

 

I saw my sin.

 

With nothing to look at, with nothing to move me, I was moved by…….God. Moved by His words.

 

I saw God as Mighty.  For the first time I felt so small. I didn’t feel close to God, like I was His friend.  As we so easily sing I am a friend of God. I saw his majesty, I saw His perfection as I saw in horror, my sin.

 

I didn’t feel amped up from the worship.  I didn’t feel like I did a good job by showing up to church.  Like I was better than those people who chose to use their Sunday to sleep in.  I felt my sinful nature…

 

12:00pm

 

The two hour mark hits, I made it!  Blood sugar is low, but I made it. Before I can answer my own question of, do I just want to leave now or linger, I’m greeted with several smiling faces. The pastor even makes it a point to greet me!  After all, wouldn’t a good shepherd know if he had a new addition to his flock that day?

 

I’m slowly adding substance to my empty stomach as I crunch on chips and salsa.  Silly of me to think  that this “after church lunch” would be like all others I’ve been too.

 

Before we move on to more important things like stuffing our faces, the pastor challenges everyone to talk about something they learned from the sermon today.  Apparently this is not a new drill to everyone for they quickly reach for their notes knowing exactly where to find them.  For a moment I had deer in the headlights feeling, “quizzed?”, I thought to myself.  But I was more compelled by the pastors desire to know that his flock had grown that day.  That they weren’t only going to be nourished by the Mexican food they were about to eat. But that they were truly in fact nourished by Gods word and have showed growth that day.

 

Some of us gathered back at the pastors home.  Yes, not only was I greeted by the pastor but actually sat on his and his wife’s couch.

 

This, is where I am awakened.  And no, not by the caffeine from coffee, as I still haven’t had my cup yet.

 

I was asked to read to some scriptures.  I was sitting on the edge of the couch catching the warmth of sunlight rays from the window. I was reading the bible from a phone out loud. Scripture no longer remained behind the phone screen. It permeated the room and goes straight to me and cuts me…

 

Exposing all my wretched sin.

 

Was I never really saved?

 

I need your mercy God.

 

What I thought was my salvation, was my poor excuse of calling myself a Christian.

 

I no longer ever want to sin against you God.

 

We are interrupted with kiddos breathing heavily from playing outside.  My daughter comes running up to me begging to go the night service!  That’s right, she begged to go to church again!

 

4:50pm

 

Back at the church I head straight to the seat I sat in earlier that morning.  And there’s a bible for me!  Not just some dinky, smelly old used bible but a brand new super nice big study bible!  I didn’t have it just for the service, but it was mine to take home!

 

For the first time ever, my daughter inquires about what the pastor is speaking on.  Even though I had thought she was distracted by playing with paper and keeping her little hands busy, she heard Gods word.

 

As the pastor was saying these words; “Is the word of God something you make time for? To read from ALL of His word?  Are you hearing God speak to you? God’s word is our spiritual food.  Are you feeding your soul?  Stuff yourself with God’s word.  Every day you can have the same experience that Abram had. To hear from God.”

My daughter leans over to me and whispers “He wants us to eat our bibles?”  We both giggle.

 

Somewhere around 6:30pm

 

I have now stopped keeping track of the time.  I’m excited to have dinner after the service as the congregation heads over to all the tables set up to have a meal together.  This is what they always do every Sunday evening.  This is their family.

 

This was an experience one Sunday, the 5th of March from a Christian of 34 years who realized, she really hadn’t been a Christian.

 

I don’t want this to just be a onetime experience, I want to experience this always here on earth until I experience it in heaven. And I want that for you too.  As it truly should be.

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