Last week, I published a post called “From the outside looking in“. I recalled a recent visit to a church that was once our home church and how the people we knew there were too busy with church activities to spend time with us.
One Sunday, we were in Alabama. The next Sunday, we were in Panama City, Florida. The next Sunday, we were at the hospital with my father-in-law as he was preparing for surgery the next day. The next Sunday, we were back in North Carolina, but my daughter had strep throat. So, two days ago, on Sunday, I met with the church for the first time since the middle of December – over a month.
We had seen some of our brothers and sisters during the last week, and we enjoyed spending time with them. But I didn’t realize how much I missed the church family until Sunday morning. I talked and hugged and grinned and listened and was so excited to back with our family. While I still missed my wife very much (she’s still in Alabama taking care of her dad), it was a relief to be back with the church.
In fact, I soon realize that I was supposed to start our church meeting by reading a chapter of Scripture. I had forgotten! I looked around and realized that no one else seemed to mind that I had not started “on time”. Everyone was talking and laughing and catching up with one another.
During our meeting, several people shared what was going on in their lives, asked for prayer, prayed for others, shared what God had been teaching them… it was so different from what had experienced with the church that we visited. After our formal meeting was “dismissed”, people stayed around continuing their conversations, and several of us ate together.
Relationships… the church cannot be the church without relationships – real relationships – not fake, superficial, or contrived. Relationships… not simply shared activities.
As someone said recently, “If there is no life outside the church meeting, there will be no life in the meeting”.
Yes, while I miss my wife very, very much – and while I look forward to seeing her again real soon – It was very good to be back with family.