I did a hard thing this week. I told the lovely church who had taken me in that I wouldn’t be going back there.It has been my oasis in a desert place. I did some enforced “stocktaking” in my life and it became apparent that I was in the wrong place. I had quickly got involved with all the areas where the Church had needed help,I joined a wonderful house group and met some truly amazing folk.
Last week, I got a virus and got stung by a wasp at the same time. I am quite allergic to wasp stings and although I was stung on my knee my leg swelled up from knee to ankle and my joints ached for a few days. The result was that I had to sit still for a while. It was then that it dawned on me that since the marriage break up I had filled my days with “doing”. If I was busy busy busy I hadn’t got time to think about it. I could put on a brave face, stiff upper lip and all that and the days passed without anything hurting.
Then I stopped and God asked me what I thought I was doing, and I realised that I was just hiding somewhere busy because then I didn’t have to face up to what had happened. I am allowed to feel angry, disappointed and any other emotion that hits me because He is big enough to deal with it and heal it. By trying to ignore how I was feeling, I was not able to move forward as I thought that I was doing.
I had also been cycling into the next town to Church because I felt uncomfortable at the reaction I had had at the local church, but as I have thought about it, it was probably me, not them that was not at ease.I was reading something that C.S. Lewis had written, a part of “The Screwtape Letters”. Srewtape is an old experienced devil who writes to his young nephew Wormwood, who has just set out into the business of tempting. The uncle gives instructions on how to thwart the lives of Christians, especially those who are regular church goers.
He writes: ” My dear Wormword,
You mentioned casually in your letter that the patient has continued to attend one church, and one only since he was converted,and that he is not pleased with it. May I ask what you are about? Why have I no report on the causes of his fidelity to the parish church? Do you realise that unless it is due to indifference it is a very bad thing? Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing,the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that “suits” him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches? ”
Feeling at home in a church takes a long time, but I felt compelled to go back to the local church, even though I found it difficult. I felt that God was saying “I want you to rest, to take stock of what’s been going on before I give you something else to do.” So that’s where I went with some trepidation. I was met at the front door by the Minister, still a bit apprehensive I said “Are you sure that you are comfortable with me here?”. The reply was “Yes, of course.” and after the service he told me never to think that way again.
I had also followed the advice of a friend who had told me that she felt that it would be better for everyone if perhaps I left the denomination to which I belonged. She was wrong! The discomfort was hers not the congregations, so if you are in this position too, or something similar commit it to prayer, God will make it plain where he wants you to be , he won’t shout it at you, like me you probably wouldn’t listen, he will lead you gently.
At the end of today’s service was a paraphrase of Matthew 6 33-34 I have quoted it from The Message:
” God gives such attention to the appearance of wildflowers—most of which are never even seen—don’t you think he’ll attend to you, take pride in you, do his best for you? What I’m trying to do here is to get you to relax, to not be so preoccupied with getting, so you can respond to God’s giving. People who don’t know God and the way he works fuss over these things, but you know both God and how he works. Steep your life in God-reality, God-initiative, God-provisions. Don’t worry about missing out. You’ll find all your everyday human concerns will be met.
34 “Give your entire attention to what God is doing right now, and don’t get worked up about what may or may not happen tomorrow. God will help you deal with whatever hard things come up when the time comes.”