I went to church for the first time in a long time. A very long time. I’d reached somewhere close to my wit’s end, trying to make sense of life on my own, coming short of any answers that put my heart and mind at ease. And that’s what I’d been chasing all along. This sense of peace.
So I went, arriving late as usual, and seated myself in one of the last remaining seats in the last row of the balcony. I glanced down below me and around me: My word, this church is huge (and packed)! I was afraid I had missed most of the message. Turns out I arrived not long after the preacher was approaching the climax of his analogy leading to the beginning of his message. He says it’s called “3 Feet from Gold.”
As I listen to the preacher, I also pay attention to my heart. It’s been hardened, for sure, but it’s also been newly softened by this desperation for clarity. I’d spent the last years living outside the church (mostly happily), after a few years trying at the “God thing” and it not “working” or “sticking” like I wanted it to. But there I was on Sunday – back again – because what didn’t escape me from those years of not being in the church was a conscience pull that everything was better under God’s plan. Christian relationships and marriages seemed to last longer. Blessings and opportunities seemed to flow more abundantly onto those who committed themselves to being close to Him. And even beyond those more material things, I imagined faith itself provided a compass to help Christians navigate through the ups and downs of life. I wanted a piece of that pie. I wanted peace.
The preacher spoke about perseverance and not giving up in trying times in our relationships with God, just because we hadn’t struck our “gold” yet. “Your level of perseverance cannot be dictated by how good you feel, ” he urges. He spoke about patience, and how it’s so easy to be offended by God’s timing (which often times, doesn’t align with our own), but we must still practice patience in the process. He spoke of losing illusions, and replacing it with Holy Spirit vision. He said a lot of things, and backed it up with scripture, too. I questioned whether many of those things applied to my own life because it had been such a long time since I invited God in. But anyways, I wrote down those things the preacher said that tugged at my heart, especially this one: “My past isn’t too bad for God to use me.”
No, this post isn’t about a my-whole-life-has-changed moment. I didn’t leave with earth-shattering clarity. I left with the sense that God probably never left me, and maybe, just maybe, he has a pretty cool plan for my life – gold beyond this brokenness. And that was simply enough to make me want to go back to church again.