…let us go into the house of the Lord.
(This is a church near the lake that Bill loves to take pic of)
I was raised in church – probably spent the first Sunday of my life in the nursery of Northside Baptist Church in Odessa, Texas – and it was a very rare thing for my family to miss a single Sunday, much less several in a row! We most always went on Sunday night and Wednesday night, as well. I guess I was made to go, but I don’t remember ever thinking about not going. It was simply what we did. And I loved church! I especially loved Sunday School and the evening classes that we called Training Union.
Sunday School was filled with Bible stories, and I LOVED those stories, the beautiful pictures, and the wonderful songs that went with them. Songs like:
“Jesus lived in a little house where there was lots to do.
Like rolling up His sleeping mat and filling oil lamps, too!”
And the choruses we used to sing – “Deep and Wide,” “This Little Light of Mine,” and “Zacchaeus,” and so many more – oh, how I loved those songs!
Training Union was more skills oriented. We learned the books of the Bible and had “Sword Drills,” learned of missionaries, and how to share Jesus to a lost and dying world. I especially loved the Sword Drills, I think because I was good at it!
“Big Church,” as we used to call the Sunday morning worship time, was very different, but not necessarily unenjoyable. As small children, we were allowed to nap a bit, but it wasn’t long before we were expected to stay awake and listen. Of course, the singing was my favorite. I loved the hymns – still do – and learned early on that you didn’t sing the third verse of any hymn in the Baptist Hymnal! (At our current church, where we’ve been attending for 14+ years, we sing all verses, even if there are 47! I love that, too!)
I remember Mama making a doll out of her hankerchief when we got figgety. She would fold it this way and that, and then put her wedding ring around the neck, like a beautiful choker. Daddy would let us play with his watch – I wonder why that is so intriguing for a child? Sometimes the pastor would call on Daddy to pray, and we kids would be so proud! He would say, “Bill Allen, would you lead us in prayer?” and we would look at each other and say, “That’s our Daddy!!”, and fall into gales of laughter – joyful laughter, that our Daddy was praying outloud in church!
Mama and Daddy both taught Sunday School at various times through the years. Dad had boys, Mama taught ladies. Mama loved to teach! I don’t remember Dad saying much about it, but whether he enjoyed it or not wasn’t the issue – he was needed, so he did it.
Through the years, the Lord has flooded my life with amazing things through the Church. Most importantly, I learned of salvation at my church. I met my husband at church. I learned (and still am learning) the deep things of the Lord from mighty men and women of God at church. I made many deep and lasting friendships within the church. And in many times of need, it has been mostly through the church that the Lord has met those needs! All of these things shaped me and molded me, and showed me Jesus in the most beautiful, lovely way.
So, all that to say….
I think we Christians, especially we OLD Christians, don’t appreciate the wonder and beauty of going “into the house of the Lord”! Now that Jeanne and I take turns on Sundays, and since the care of our parents has prevented us from even going every other Sunday, I realize how very important consistent church attendance is in the life of a Believer. I miss the Bible study and preaching so much. I really miss the corporate worship and singing. Most of all, though, I miss the love, encouragement, and friendship of my church family. The corporate church. Individuals write or call, or send messages home with Bill and Dannye, and that is so precious! There is, however, something amazing and supernatural in corporate church fellowship. That is what I miss!
This truly raises a desire in me to encourage people to not only attend their church, but to love their church family, and to encourage one another, truly listen and hear what is going on in others’ lives! “And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.” Hebrews 10:25 I never thought about a day that I, or others, wouldn’t be there every Sunday! I took the good teaching, the precious worship, and the friendships and the possibility of friendships for granted, and now it’s doubly hard to enjoy those things.
My prayer is that I will press on, even in my forced “part-time” attendance; that I will find ways to connect with my church family; that I will focus on my Lord through worship during the little time I am able to be there; and that I will look to Jesus for the strength I need for life when I am not able to go to church. He is so faithful – I pray I will be, as well!
God bless your day!