It’s been an incredibly difficult few weeks filled with many long hours on the road not knowing what to expect on the other end but totally at peace with whatever we found. The circumstances of each day left us feeling like we were standing precariously at the edge of a precipice and well aware that at any time we would find ourselves plunging to the depths of emotions and simultaneously clinging to the truths that hold us firmly.
Life and death decisions had to be made. Many sleepless nights were spent in a recliner or a cot listening to the hum and beeping of monitors, watching the numbers and lines jump erratically on the screen, listening to the warning alarms. By the time we headed home we were spent physically, emotionally and yes spiritually. Many of you know exactly what I am talking about.
Once home we were overwhelmed with all that was left undone before leaving as well as what needed to be done now that we were home. Managing a loved one’s healthcare from a distance has many challenges and moving parts. Friday brought new issues to be dealt with and a whole different set of challenges and by Saturday evening we were spent once again.
I woke up Sunday empty and in need of filling, excited to be a part of the gathering of believers. I had no idea as I headed that way what God had in store for me.
The service was beginning as I took my seat; David was serving and would join me shortly. Matty stepped up to the platform and as he prayed I began to experience true worship in my heart. My attention then turned to the baptism of two men and I rejoiced that they, who had been outside the family, were now brothers! The music began and we stood. I stood there alone, but not alone. As I sang the tears spilled out and rolled down my cheeks. The lyrics were like the healing balm of Gilead to my hurting and weary soul. God’s love enveloped me and I was being infused with His strength and comforted by the Holy Spirit’s presence in the sanctuary.
I had come into the sanctuary in a fog and disoriented from the events in recent weeks, weary and burdened even though I had spent time in private worship prior to arriving to corporate worship this morning. As a matter of fact I had watched several worship services these past weeks to stay centered but there was something different this morning.
Tony stepped up to the platform and masterfully led us through Ephesians 2:10 helping us to see that we were God’s masterpiece, created for good works and that each of us have a purpose, value and a destiny and then challenged us to join God in re-creating the world. As he preached, although for me the spiritual haze was thick, the breakthrough came, along with affirmation, in the context of worship.
I was reminded of the Psalmist’s word “My flesh and heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and portion forever.” “For me it is good to be near God” – (Psalm 73:26,28)
That is when I realized how I had taken attending these weekly gatherings for granted. It has been a spiritual discipline since I came to Christ. After all it’s what believers do. However, today was when I realized just how important it is for us to be part of corporate worship on a regular basis.
Corporate worship is a vital part of our sanctification, our growth in being conformed to the image of Jesus Christ (Romans 8:29). Corporate worship is for building us up, our encouragement and comforting us in our times of trouble and seeing God at work in our life and the lives of others.
These are times when the Holy Spirit takes the Scripture read, the prayers spoken, the songs sung, or the truth preached and presses it right to the point of our need.
As we participate in corporate worship God loves not only to transform our minds but also to change our hearts “in the moment”. That is what happened to me today!
Thank you Matty for your prayer; Steve for the songs chosen and the heart of worship with which they were led; Tony for the truth you not only presented but made sure we understood and then called us to action. The three of you gave us the opportunity to embrace being led and to receive and respond to the Spirit’s leading and not simply pursue God on our own terms taking the lead in our times of private worship.
Because of your leadership I was able to be refreshed, renewed and to re-focus, not only to be ready for what the near future holds, but also so that I can continue to serve and fulfill my destiny!
Today was like watching one of those “picture within a picture” TVs. I was participating in the local worship service; at the same time in the smaller picture of my heart God was schooling me. I was reminded of the importance of gathering together as the body of Christ, unknowingly drawing strength and comfort from the Spirit in each one of us and centering us once again on what is important, Jesus Christ. These times together heightens our awareness that we are not alone in having our souls satisfied in Him.
I’m extremely grateful for the reminder of how important corporate worship is for believers! It is where we find encouragement in all the other spiritual habits vital to the Christian life. Believers are meant to be together, to learn together, worship together, to pray for each other, and encourage each other.
I came to the sanctuary ready for worship but experienced so much more! Thank you Matty, Steve and Tony for leading us well.