On a recent Sunday morning, I awoke to dark skies, low rumbling thunder, and rainfall. Oh, how nice it would be to stay in bed this morning I thought to myself. My husband was away at AT (annual training) for his duties as an Army Chaplain. He had asked a former pastor who is now a member of our church to fill in behind the pulpit while he’s away. Had I not been responsible for teaching my Sunday School class, it would have been easy to stay home in my pajamas and read my Bible while sipping my morning coffee as my three exhausted sons slept in.
And my thoughts when back to a couple weeks before….
As my family got ready for church that particular Sunday morning, I struggled finding something to wear. I have a closet full of clothes, but wasn’t satisfied with anything I put on. Too tight in the thighs. Muffin top looked extra poofy. Too low cut for a pastor’s wife. My clothing selections lay in heap on the bed as my husband asked, “Are you changing again?”
Needless to say, he got “the look.”
Today, I am reminded of this….
Satan works hard on Sundays. He gives us a million reasons to miss Sunday service and a million reasons to be in a bad mood before we even leave the house when we do go. Whether we’re dying to head to the lake, go shopping, play a round of golf, or whether we are just plain tired and want to sleep in, Satan will give us all the reasons that skipping church services is ok. If he knows that the only thing keeping us from attending is an emergency, he will then do everything possible to distract us and harden our hearts while we participate in our worship service. He wants us to miss out. He wants us to be in a foul mood. He wants us to put our own selfish desires first and not give a fleeting thought to God.
Although Satan gives us a million reasons, God gives us one: LOVE.
God commands us to keep the Sabbath holy. If we obey His commandments, we show our love for Him.
Part of showing our love for Him, I believe, is being active church members.
Yes, as a pastor’s wife, I will encourage anyone to attend church regularly, but here’s the thing: I was a church member long before becoming a pastor’s wife, and I know how important it is for “regular” people to attend.
I didn’t grow up in church. In fact, I had quite a negative view about church and why people attended. Most of my knowledge about God came from a summer of VBS and the inside covers of my many Gideon Bibles. I always knew about Jesus, but I didn’t come to know him until I was a young mother in my mid 20’s.
My home church is full of the love of God. From day one, my family has been loved on by the body of Christ. They have encouraged us, supported us, and prayed for us. They’ve helped to meet physical and spiritual needs. They’ve helped us grow in our walk with Christ. In doing so, we’ve developed some strong, Christ centered relationships within our church.
And the thing about it is this – that couldn’t have happened on the patio reading my Bible and drinking my coffee. It couldn’t have happened on a boat in the middle of a lake. Christian growth and Christian relationships are developed within the church.
Hebrews 10:24 – 25 says, “And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another, and all the more as you see the Day drawing near.” When we make our church attendance a priority, we are able to strengthen one another, to be blessed, and be a blessing. As a Sunday school teacher, I have seen this first hand when women who feel alone or feel like the worst moms in the world, or frazzled women who struggle with tempers and gluttony and jealousy make a commitment to come to Sunday school each week to study God’s Word, to offer encouragement, and to be encouraged. I’ve seen women grow and change and become leaders within the church. I’ve seen them step out of their comfort zones and go on mission trips and serve in the community. I’ve seen women be the Christian example in their workplaces and homes. These women do this because they ignore Satan’s million reasons to stay home or sulk in a pew and instead, accept God’s one reason of love.
Because of love, we should make Sunday school and regular church attendance a priority. When we put God first in our lives, His love empowers us. His love radiates from us. His love moves us.
Sadly, I admit that twice on that Sunday, I had thoughts of staying home from church. I had even asked my boys how they felt about missing the Sunday evening activities and service. They were all for it. Yet, I knew it wasn’t the right thing to do. I apologized to them for considering it and for even giving them a say in the matter. They were fine with my decision, and as we made our way indoors to freshen up, our 5-year-old neighbor asked, “Why do you go to church so much?” I told him we go every time our church has services so we can learn more about God. I realized I wouldn’t have been able to witness to him in this way had we stayed home from church. Later that evening, I reflected on the conversations I had with others before and after the service. I reflected on what my children learned during the sermon. God showed me what we would have missed out on had we not been there.
Let me say this: I’ve never been sorry for attending a church service, but I have been sorry for missing one.
As women of faith, let us focus on God’s love and not Satan’s many distractions. May we let our love for Christ be the reason we do what we do.