“If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.” I Corinthians 12:26 (NIV)
One day when Reed was four years old, he came running into the living room and announced, “Mom, you need to order the Contour Pillow! It’s only $19.95, and they will deliver it right to your door!” Obviously, he had been watching TV in his playroom and that commercial really spoke to him, because he recited it word for word. I knew exactly what he was talking about because I, too, had seen that commercial probably a hundred times and had memorized it myself.
Soon after that, I was in my car with both Reed (who was 4) and Cole (who wasn’t quite 2 yet) and had the radio on my favorite pop station. I was singing along to all the songs as I was driving when I realized that Reed had joined in. Reed singing was not that uncommon as he loves to sing just as much as I do. The realization was what he was singing. At the ripe old age of 4 years old, Reed was singing right along with Heart as they sang, “All I want to do is make love to you…” Wait just a second here! No, don’t wait. Turn the station, Missy! What had I done? How did he know every one of those words and sing it on the right tune so perfectly? My heart sank. I thought, “What am I feeding into this little human’s brain every day when we get into the car?” I had what Oprah would call a “lightbulb moment”. I had a decision to make. And I made it that very day. As much as I loved listening and singing along to Heart, Madonna, Hootie and the Blowfish and Whitney Houston (am I showing my age?), I left them all behind and turned to the highly unpopular Christian music channel. Can I just be honest here and say that I had to force myself to keep it there? There were no bands like MercyMe, Casting Crowns or Third Day at that time. And it took a HUGE commitment on my part to keep it there. Reed would beg for me to turn it back to that “good music” station, but I told him we weren’t listening to that station anymore because they talked about things that made God sad. It was definitely a sacrifice! Thank goodness Christian music has come a long way! It has consistently been my first choice for quite a few years now.
This past Sunday at my home church in West Monroe, we celebrated quite a few things. We celebrated my sister-in-law, Lisa, by watching a short video of her testimony – how she overcame her adulterous 14-month affair while she was married to Alan and how God is using her now. We celebrated learning how God used many instances in scripture to teach us about confession and how good it is to come clean. We celebrated a very close friend and family member with his wife walk to the front of our congregation and unburden his heart with things he has been doing that do not line up with living a Christian life. We celebrated as many of our members hugged them, cried with them, prayed with them, encouraged them and showed forgiveness in such sweet ways. We also celebrated in song by singing praises to God at the top of our lungs in four-part harmony (something our church family is well-known for).
As I was sitting in my pew taking in the activities of the morning, I started thinking about all the people I knew who had missed out on all the wonderful things that had happened that morning (which was really a normal morning at White’s Ferry Road church) and it made me sad. Not only did they miss the things I talked about above, but they also missed the hugs, the smiles, the encouragement, the laughter, the handshakes, the showing of skin-on-skin love that just automatically happens with the body of Christ on Sunday mornings. Sunday mornings are a time to do what Paul says in the title scripture – suffering, honoring and rejoicing together.
Why did I tell you the stories of Reed reciting the commercial and the song? Because I realized when my boys were very small that they were being influence by everything around them. Everything! I then made a decision that, while I couldn’t control it all, I could control quite a few things at their young ages and I knew I wanted them to be influenced by as many good and Godly circumstances as possible. So, Jase and I took them to Bible class every Sunday morning and Wednesday night. They learned songs like “Who did, who did, who did, who did, who did swallow Jo-Jo-Jonah…?” They memorized verses like John 3:16, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” These were now the things that Reed walked around singing and reciting.
Sitting in that pew Sunday thinking over the past 20 years of our parenting and our adult lives, I thanked God for my White’s Ferry Road church family. I thanked God that we had a place to fit in His body. I thanked God when I looked up and saw Cole quietly serving the Lord’s supper. I thanked God when I picked Mia up from teaching in Bible Hour, a place that she grew up attending and learning God’s word from older kids through puppets, skits and songs. She was now one of those older kids.
Do you belong to a church? If not, have you felt you have missed out on those Sunday morning experiences? God knows you have. God says through the Hebrew writer in Hebrews 10:24-25, “And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another – and all the more as you see the Day approaching.”
It is so easy to find a reason to not be at church on Sunday mornings. It seems the reasons are much more abundant on Sundays than during the week when it comes to school or your job. Maybe it’s too hard to get all the kids ready. Maybe you’re feeling sick. Maybe you just deserve the day off after working so hard all week. Maybe so. But have these maybe’s become a habit like the Hebrew writer talks about?
Uh, Missy’s done gone to preachin’ now! Maybe I have. I just know after 44 years on this planet how much I need my brothers and sisters in Christ and how much they need me. The devil will tell you that you don’t need them and that you’re doing just fine on your own. I’m convinced through years of ministry that when I stop seeing someone at church, that is usually the first sign that their life is not right and that they are making self-driven decisions instead of God-driven. Satan will also tell you that you don’t have to go to church to be a Christian. He may be right about that, but it sure does make it harder.
With the holidays in full swing and the New Year right around the corner, why don’t you start fresh? Make a commitment to find a church that teaches the Bible, that encourages you to live a sinless life and that has a dynamic children’s program. And make a commitment to be there. “But Missy, I’m just not getting what I need from my church.” Then find another one. Or better yet, rethink what you “need”. Maybe you need to serve others. Get involved in a service ministry. If your church doesn’t have any programs and you are feeling discouraged, start your own program. Gather food for the homeless. Start a mid-week lunch date with a few of your members and invite co-workers. Start a birthday card ministry where every member of your church receives a card on their birthday. There are SO many ways to serve. You will soon see that YOU are the blessed one, and maybe, like me, Sundays will be your favorite day of the week!
Have a BLESSED week!