Interesting thing happened to me yesterday and today. God gave me an “ah-ha” moment. Yep, He sure did. A dear friend of mine passed away this week and his funeral services were last night and this morning. As I watched the mobs of people greet his widow and children, I realized how powerful this man was for God. His relationships over the years at this one church just continued to grow. After all, I had only known him and his wife for about 6 years, but others had known them for decades. God used Rich for one more lesson before taking him from this earth.
I had been pondering the drive I make to my church. Since we moved to our new home a few months ago – the drive to our church has really seemed long. I mean really long. Some days, depending on the time of day, it can take me 30 minutes to get to the church. It has taken a toll on my love of volunteering and it certainly has made me consider – why am I driving all this way, when there is another church 2 minutes from my house? But, I kept driving that dreadful drive. I have often caught myself thinking that maybe, just maybe I am being called to form new friendships and new ministries in another location. It sure would be convenient.
Well, my friend Rich set me straight. As I looked around at his funeral, I saw so many familiar faces; so many loving people who cared and already missed Rich. These were families that grew up in this very church – together. Their young kids had grown into parents, and they had grown into grandparents. Where did the time all go? The best part was – they all watched this happen to each other. They aged together, under one roof. The roof I like to call “church.” Now if I hopped around church to church searching for the most convenient location, I would miss out on this. I would miss out on getting to know families that might one day share in my heavenly banquet. They would pray for me. They do pray for me.
“Church hopping” because things aren’t the way we like them or because it just isn’t convenient to go to that church or maybe because we just don’t like the sermons anymore – it can lead you away from Christ. Staying in one place with one family of God can strengthen you in times of struggle. Rich’s family was mourning his loss, but not alone – not even close to alone. Their decades of membership at my church had engulfed them in love and prayer.
At Rich’s funeral, the handbells played, the choir sang, and we all prayed together for Rich to be taken up to heaven to be at peace with the one and only – God. We did this together because we love each other like family. We are family – “church family.”
Yes, Rich had given me the “ah-ha” moment of realizing that if I was busy church hopping, I never would form these wonderful relationships that last a lifetime.
My church hopping days are over. I am making the drive. Sure, my ministries may change a little, but I am not leaving my church family. They are a big part of my life. I am so fortunate to have all of them. I cannot name them all because we are so large. We know each other by name or maybe by face – but we know each other. We pray for each other. We embrace each other. We share our God together.
Our father, who art in heaven, hallowed be thy name, thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread and forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever.