Have you ever had your toes stepped on so hard that it left your toes sore? That happened to me today but probably not in the way you think. Let me explain:
If you have been reading my blog for any amount of time, you know that due to Hannah’s health issues and lack of immune system she and I do not go to church. Dennis usually goes every Sunday morning but she and I stay home. Now, let me be honest…..it has been nearly 3 years since I stepped foot in church and at the beginning I missed it greatly. Sunday’s were (and still are) my least favorite day of the week. You see, I was raised going to church. It is instilled in me and I will be the first to admit that I didn’t always appreciate it and I took the ability and freedom to go for granted. Now, I am not one of those people who believes you have to be in church to be a Christian. It is a building full of sinners, just like me. Going to church, getting baptized, serving in some ministry is NOT going to get you to Heaven. Only a belief in God, asking forgiveness and acknowledging He is the only way to Heaven and a desire to honor Him (even though I fail daily, that is where grace comes in) is gonna get you there. So, let me state very plainly…..I don’t care if you never darken the door of a church….it won’t keep you out of Heaven. With that said, I feel as if I have had an excuse the past 10 years and especially the last 3 years not to go…..kind-of a “get out of jail free” card, if you will! HA! There have been only a few opportunities for me to go to church and in all honesty, I have let those opportunities go. The few Sunday’s in the past that Dennis wasn’t working or for one reason or another didn’t go where I could have, I haven’t. Not because I couldn’t, but because I chose not to. The longer you stay away, the easier it is not to go. So, the longer I have been away; the less I miss it and the desire to get up, get dressed and drive to church isn’t there. Again, doesn’t make me any less a believer or a Christian; just once you have been out of the habit, it is harder to get back into it.
For the past few months though, I have started missing it again. Being in a service, hearing the music and hearing a Pastor preach God’s Word. For me, sitting in front of the computer watching a service stream online just isn’t the same and if I am being perfectly honest; I usually get up and walk away. Why? Because I can and I get distracted with other things……like Hannah! So, watching it online has never been successful for me until about a month ago when I started listening to an old-time dear friend preach. Now, this pastor and his wife go all the way back to when I was a child. They were dear friends of my parents and at the time David was a Police Captain with the Sheriff’s Office here in town. In fact, he is the one who talked me out of becoming a police officer when I was 18 years old. I was dead set on going through the academy and becoming a cop. David gets all the credit for convincing me, that wasn’t the road I should take. So, I still blame him for not following my dreams….HA! I know he was only looking out of for me. On the flip side, he is probably one of the reasons my brother became a cop…..
Anyway, I reconnected with Drena, his wife about a month ago and I started watching their church services online. WOW! It was like David was talking just to me. I was mesmerized and drawn in. I have been searching so long to be connected; longing for a small community church. Nothing at all against the big mega churches, as that is all I have ever known; but my needs are different now and the desire to be part of a small community church has been my hope. I mean, let’s be real…..if the day comes where Hannah can go back to church, she has less likely chance of getting sick if she is around fewer people. The church I grew up in and the church where I am still a member is just too large for Hannah and her needs. She gets overwhelmed quickly. She can’t handle too much going on around her. She and I both need understanding and community. I have become a recluse in so many ways and crowds tend to cause me a great deal of anxiety, as they do with Hannah. I don’t do well in large groups of people anymore. So, a smaller, more intimate setting is what I desire and need. Now, we are nowhere near ready to take Hannah back to church. I have to know for a fact her health isn’t in jeopardy and Dennis is in no way ready to leave our home church. He still loves it there and frankly, we can’t go as a family so there is no need to be looking or moving churches. So, I am not making any big radical changes; just if I get the opportunity to go to a smaller church, this is the one that I feel suits me well due to my needs changing, nothing else.
Now, about my toes……boy, did they get stepped on this morning. No, they got bulldozed this morning. I sat there as Dr. Peacock spoke about offenses in our lives. Heck, in this day and age we live in, someone is getting offended by something all the time and I too, have been offended at times. People have hurt my feelings, lied to me and about me, at times I have felt neglected and unloved. I have held bitterness and resentment in my heart towards people and been unforgiving. But, something he said this morning jumped out at me. The Bible says to forgive……70 times 7; which in other words means always! But, what about the person who doesn’t ask for forgiveness? The person who is never wrong? The person who continually time after time after time hurts you? What about that person? How do you forgive someone who doesn’t want your forgiveness? The answer I learned this morning……JUST LET IT GO! Holding on to the bitterness and resentment is only hurting you. If the person who has wronged you is unwilling to ask forgiveness and make amends you are just hurting yourself and allowing them to continue to have a grasp on your life. You are allowing them to rob you of joy, peace and your relationship with Jesus. If you are staying awake at night worried about the people or circumstances that have wronged you, you are only allowing those people or circumstances to have control…..JUST LET IT GO. I had another dear, wise friend of mine (who I credit for saving my life years ago), Dr. Rick Marks tell me forgiveness wasn’t about the other person, it was about you and just because you forgive someone and let the problem go, doesn’t mean you must have a relationship with that person. Some people are just toxic and if they have hurt you once, twice, three times then most likely it will continue to happen. The illustrations that were used this morning were perfect and taken right out the the Bible. Things I have never seen in the Bible (probably because I don’t study it like I should); but truths that as old as the Bible is, can still and very effectively be applied today. I wish I had the sermon notes as I would type them here for you all to read, as it was that powerful!
We all have people in our lives who have hurt us. We all have a past….whether we have been divorced, lost jobs, lost friends, been hurt by others, treated poorly, lied to and about…..whatever the situation is we all have a past. Before our past, our bitterness and resentment hardens our hearts, crushes our spirit and destroys our life and relationship with The Lord, JUST LET IT GO. It hit me this morning of all the bitterness and resentment that I have had over the years (especially the past 3 years) and it made me realize not everyone is going to like me, you can’t please everyone and the hurt of the past needs to be left in the past. It doesn’t matter what your past consists of….leave it there, move on and find the joy and peace again that only God can give. Forgive those that trespass you but just because you forgive doesn’t mean you must have a relationship with that person. Some people will never be happy unless they are hurting others and exalting themselves…..learn from the past…..forgive those who ask for it and let the others go!
With that said, now my toes are even more sore because I just preached the same sermon (in a much condensed version with not near the explanation or illustrations) that I received this morning. It did my heart and soul good to be at Bible Believer’s Baptist Church this morning and getting my toes stepped on because I needed to hear that sermon I am sure more than anyone else there!
Until next time………….