The last time I took a Sunday off, there was a flood.
No, that statement does not mean that I haven’t taken a vacation since Noah built the ark. Look back through old blog posts on this site, and you’ll quickly see the value I place on time off!
I was in a city where rainfall began early on a Sunday morning and continued throughout the day. Flash floods were rampant, and increasing inches of water broke rainfall records for the city. I awoke that morning with plans to visit a local church that I frequented on vacation—until I turned on the television. A weather reporter clutched his blue poncho around his suit, the other hand clutching the microphone. He yelled over the wind:
Do not go out unless you absolutely have to!
But I absolutely have to go to church, I told myself. I had planned to go to church. I couldn’t let a little rain keep me from worshipping the Lord. If I were not on vacation, I’d have to be there for my job!
I went outside to discover that streets were closed and cars had hydroplaned. I was in a city that was only vaguely familiar to me, and the dark clouds made even the recognizable roads strange. Back in my room, watching Blue Poncho Weather Guy try to get his microphone under his hood, I decided not to go to church.
The weather can easily be an excuse not to go church, but it also reminds us that circumstances are beyond our control. Sometimes wisdom tells us to stay home, but legalism tells us to go to church because “it’s what we do.”
When I began working on this blog series entitled, “Why Not to Go To Church,” my intention was to listen for ways the church could become a place where people want to be. I wanted to dig more deeply into why people were not attending church on a regular basis. What I discovered was the importance of shifting that question to ourselves.
1. Why do I go to church?
2. Why do I not go to church?
For those of us who are active in the church, sometimes we just need a break. The trouble develops when a “break” from worship becomes a habit. The habit becomes a routine, and the routine no longer includes the worship of God. This is the time of year where rain and cold keep us at home in fear of catching the flu or another bug from one another. We may initially stay away in fear of catching “something.” If we’re not careful, we’ll start avoiding the One who is trying to catch us.
Behind every answer to those questions are stories. The responses are more than mere excuses or reasons. Each word carries a load. As the body of Christ, we should listen carefully to each other’s reasons, excuses, rationalizations, and truths. Sometimes the floods of life, both figurative and literal, keep us from where we most want or need to be. When that happens, God meets us where we are.
I was glad when they said to me,
“Let us go to the house of the Lord!”
(Psalm 122:1, New Revised Standard Version)
Are we continually encouraging each other to go into God’s presence? Are we asking ourselves why we go or don’t go to the Lord’s house? Are we really listening to the answers?
On that rainy Sunday morning in a vague city, I returned to my room and pulled out a new CD by Michael W. Smith. I put it in my computer and turned up the volume. I made a cup of coffee, opened a package of cookies and settled into a chair with a book. One of the songs that I heard is in the video below. The chorus says:
Your plans are still to prosper.
You have not forgotten us.
You’re with us in the fire and the flood.
You’re faithful forever.
Perfect in love.
You are sovereign over us. *
We go to church because he is sovereign. We don’t go to church, but he’s still sovereign.
Wherever we are in our answer to, “Why?” let us not forget that the house of the Lord belongs to the Lord. It is a house with no limits, for all are welcome. Will you go into the house of the Lord with me?
all good things to each of you,
* This song is from the new album SOVEREIGN.
SOVEREIGN on iTunes: http://mws.cta.gs/002
Michael's official website: http://mws.cta.gs/006