From my brother hearing something random at a gas station that sparked memories of church sermons he needed right then to the sermon my boss dragged me to, swearing it was going to click perfectly and it started this. We all have moments when God reached us when we were the farthest we could be from a church pew. I’ve been both the one herding people back, and the one scolded for leaving it empty for too long. Only one of us here at the Incomplete Message has ever been to a church where the focus when they missed seeing you was a genuine concern for your personal walk with Jesus, asking if they could help. I think it says something that it’s that rare for us as Christians to reach out with more concern for an individual’s faith and individuality than the seat they held in their pew.
Some of my best conversations with God have been when I was yelling and screaming at the sky, being the most honest I’ve ever been with myself and Him. They really frown on you doing that in the church sanctuary, yet the church I attended made me very conscious about my spiritual state if I didn’t have perfect attendance. I’ve been the prodigal son dozens of times, people had theories about my sincerity, my purpose. I was lost. Sometimes, I would get overwhelmed and I’d start to question not only my ability to balance everything in life, between money, school, work, family, etc, but also my alignment with God’s plan for me. I would forget that His plan and His work in me isn’t a destination or something I can achieve, but a path and a purpose that I fight for every day. I was lost, not because I had never found Him, but because I didn’t know where I was supposed to be or where to meet with Him again and again.
There have been times when time alone spent in prayer and Bible reading is what did the trick to realign me. There have been times when I’ve laid there looking at the Bible thinking its a waste of my time and no one is hearing my prayer. I’ve sat in the church pew thinking I was so close to God and His love that I could reach out and touch him physically. Other times I sat there hardly able to stay awake because there was nothing there that helped me and I was just punching my time card. The difference wasn’t church, and had nothing to do with the Bible. Those things are sources for His word, but never the deciding factor. What I found that changed was my attitude, my purpose, and my sincerity; it had everything to do with my heart. I have been moved by the wisdom of a priest, scolded by the laughter of a Rabbi, and angered by my own reaction to the ignorance of some preaching. I’m not good at taking advice or directions, so I had to work for it, but He would come and drag me back, no matter how shaken, angry, or scared I was.
I know God spoke to me once in a booth at Cheddar’s, when a man, who I later found out was a local Rabbi, told me that throughout everything I must remember that G-d has never lifted a finger in vain. That by the very act of existing, G-d has invested in me. The least I could be doing is making the most of that. If someone thought me worth creating, I should be able to share some of that with others. I realized if God invested in me, what was I investing in His children, in all of us? How has God spoken to you away from a pew, outside of the four walls we try to stuff him into once or twice a week. Where is some of the most random places he has given you purpose in your everyday life?