Sometimes, somewhere beyond the cosmos, our Father must look over at Jesus and with a big smile on his face say, “Watch this…”
This might be one of those times.
I’ve had an email correspondence over the last few days with a woman in Australia that has brought more than a few smiles to my heart. I love how the Spirit works, especially when we’re a bit clueless to what he is doing. This is the story she shared with me, pieced together from a few emails. I love how the Spirit just keeps knitting his family together even in very unexpected ways.
I first bought your book So You Don’t Want to Go to Church Anymore for my eldest son of six children when he was not wanting to go to church as a late teenager. I gave it to him to encourage him back into the fold, without actually even looking through the book to see what it was about.
He read it and said “Mum, did you even read this book? I don’t think it says what you thought it might say.”
So, I read it for myself, and laughed, and thought you were a bit misled. Fast forward a few years and I was in a totally different place in my relationship with God and re-read it after some friends had just read it and loved it. Then I “got” it. My youngest three (by now teenagers) were not wanting to go to church anymore as well.
For a whole bunch of reasons, including considering my children – we left the institution ourselves. I said to the pastor at the time “I fear for my children if I stay and I fear for my children if I go” My fear was that if I stayed, they would just think this is what Christianity looked like and eventually reject it altogether as too boring. I knew there was so much more. My fear in leaving was the unknown, and the worry that we were making a big mistake that would have consequences in my children’s lives. They were being homeschooled and church was a source of socialisation. But it was a lonely place for them even in the midst of church and for me too) as there were really no other young people there for friendship anyway. It certainly has been an interesting journey and this is by far the short version. It has not been a mistake.
In May last year, my husband and I were taking a trip with some friends to the centre of Australia and had to take a huge detour because of floods. This meant we called in on some acquaintances who run an art gallery and they sent us on our way with CDs of your Transitions teaching. My, the lengths God goes to sometimes! My husband doesn’t normally listen to CD’s but because we were travelling long distances, he had nothing better to do. The teaching really spoke to him in a life changing way. I keep listening to them over and over – so much good stuff in there and I just want to absorb it all into my spirit. I have since passed them on to someone else.I would never have imagined myself in the place I am in now. I have grown up going to church every week and we have always been very involved and busy with the various programs. But that was another aspect of us leaving – in many ways I felt like I had hidden myself from the world in the church. I was so busy with the church, I didn’t have time or energy to invest anywhere else. I gradually got myself out of all the rosters and then joined the local soccer club committee as my children have all played over the last 20 years, and my youngest son still plays. I considered that I had spent so many years serving God in the church, now I was serving Him outside of the church and it gave me an opportunity to get to know and love some other people in the community. A friend once asked me, who gets to benefit from your gifting if you are in church? Interestingly, I feel like I’m actually using my spiritual gifts as the secretary there.
We attended a wedding last weekend and a friend of the bride was asked to share a short address during the wedding. As I listened to him speak about the most important thing the bride and groom, and all of us, need is to know how loved we are by our Father God and to then just love others. I recognised a fellow pilgrim on the journey. I had never met this man before but my husband and I were able to sit with him and his wife during the reception. I began to sus him out and when he confessed that he”actually doesn’t attend church anymore”, I said ‘welcome to the club”. When I asked him for his story, he just said “Well, you know Jake don’t you?” Indeed I do!
My husband said later, “We just keep running into these people…” God is definitely up to something!
The journey continues but thank you so much for allowing God to take you on the journey and then share it with others.
Do you hear the click of his knitting needles as the Spirit brings Jesus’ church together in the world?