It was a Sunday like any other. In years-past I would’ve despised hearing it described that way … “like any other.” I waited for the announcements and welcome to guests, 3-4 song worship set, video and three point sermon to finish. I appeared tuned in, took notes like I always do, and even felt those too-familiar heart pangs that set in from conviction. But for the most part, Sundays were just another day that came and went every week as I sat stage left, about midway up in my usual church seat. In years-past I would’ve never described it that way … “my usual church seat.”
Bu that’s what it felt like, the usual. A routine. A routine that inwardly exposed how critical and calloused I’d become. Maybe you’ve been there, too? A once zealous, passionate faith now only flickering, kept alive by hope and the truths you know to be fact. Or maybe it’s just me … but I don’t think so.
Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always and will always advocate that church attendance is vital. There, we find community, and I’ve been blessed to develop some great community with Godly people the past year or so. There we open ourselves up to God’s Word. It’s the people there who edify and encourage us. And I’ve been the beneficiary of so much love and support from the fellowships I’ve been part of. I would say my church is among the best; I’ve sat under some of the best teaching and leadership around.
But the truth is, it takes a lot more than church attendance, great speakers and devoted friends to rekindle and stoke the desire to follow Jesus wholeheartedly. And truthfully, it’d been quite awhile since I felt God the way I know possible, all the while knowing no matter what I feel, God still loves me and attributes righteousness to me because of the work of His Son on the cross. I’ve never doubted His devotion to me, but I’ve squandered mine for Him.
I could’ve labeled the months leading up a “season,” and I think I even convinced myself my hard-heartedness was okay, thinking it just a part of life. But while it’s true there are ebbs and flows to our Christian walk, I knew somewhere deep down this wasn’t that; the real issue was me and my indifference. An indifference that crept in after a few too many tries at self improvement gone wrong and attempts to do better failing. Then, my personal devotion dwindled to non-existent. Can I be honest? I’ve always known the importance of personal time spent with the Lord, but week after week I found myself getting further and further from even trying … or caring.
Yep, it was a Sunday like any other … and then something happened. On this morning, soon after ringing in 2016, while everyone was thinking weight loss and money-management, God put me face-to-face with myself and sort of drew a line in the sand. No one saw it happening, not even my husband, whose devotion has at many times driven me to prayer – something that reminds me that even if the closest people to you are awesome, your relationship with God is intricately personal.
Nope. In fact, I’ve really not even talked about it because talking doesn’t get you much. There were no alligator tears, no emotional promises. Just that one phrase. “I’m drawing a line in the sand,” cycling in my head during that Sunday morning worship set.
Look, I don’t much play to the mystical side of hearing God’s voice. His Word is enough, but it’s true the Holy Spirit quickens us based on it, too, and whether Him or my own thoughts, that’s the phrase that kept coming to mind. But it wasn’t, “I’m drawing a line in the sand. Do better or I don’t love you.” He wasn’t saying, “Do better or I’ll punish you,” or “Be more disciplined or else!” Instead, I think it was a caution and reminder that I could continue to miss out on opportunities to hear His voice and on being used in a real way, and that really shook me. Real repentance, I think, happened that day and I’m thankful for God’s grace in letting me hear Him even though I’ve silenced Him so often.
Finally, I feel revived, renewed. And though I can’t promise it won’t happen again, it’s my hope God’s awakening in my heart will continue to carry over into daily life. Throughout my 12 years as a believer, I’ve had many important milestones and each of them has taught me something. I think this was one of them.
And it happened on a Sunday like any other, sitting in my regular church seat, stage left, midway up.