Yeah, church is good for me
Here’s a story I sent via email to several of my church members on Monday. I had quite a span of three days thinking about Jesus, God, & the Holy Spirit in my life. Check it out:
I wanted to write some of my friends from church and let them know of a powerful thing that happened to me at Church yesterday. I wanted to write several of the people I know from Christ the Redeemer, and several that have left too, as I think the message here transcends any earthly barriers. This is one of those “Filled with Joy” moments that I just wanted to share with everyone.
I’ve been thinking of late about some of the overall larger issues our church has, and I was focusing on some of the negative aspects of all of this. Due to this, I was feeling rather “blah” about going to church this past Sunday (Jun 1). So I had internally decided on Saturday that I was not going to go to church. No particular reason, other than “I didn’t want to”. I’ve skipped a few times in the last few years, but there’s usually a reason (airport trip, or needing a family day or something tangible like being sick). This one was nothing other than my own “funk”, and my desire to be by myself and “do my own thing”, I suppose. Lynn was at work at the time I had decided this, so I didn’t tell her about this decision yet. As Lynn was at work, it was “Daddy & Samantha day!”. We were driving around and Samantha remembered we went to Sam’s Club about a month ago, and she played on the demo version of a video game called “Rock Band”. She wanted to do so again, as she liked the drums. For those that don’t know, “Rock Band” is a game where you have a microphone, a drum kit, and a guitar, and you play along with pre-recorded songs. So we went to Sam’s Club to let her bang on the drums for a few minutes, but the demo kit had been removed, and she was bummed out about it. This is important again later.
When Samantha and I got back home from the trip, I had gotten an email from Spencer Williams. Spencer had asked me to bring my camera with me on Sunday, as it was Commencement Sunday for the discipleship class. He asked if I’d get a picture of the group. So I thought “OK, I’ll go – I seem to be Mr. Camera guy anyway”. I was just going to go for that, because I do enjoy taking pictures, plus there’s been several events captured which if I didn’t, there’d be no visual record of. So yeah, I was going just to take pictures, I still kind of didn’t want to be there, really.
Well, let me tell you, this is a prime example of “Obedience Brings Blessing”. I came, and I felt like it was going to be a day you get once in awhile, where you’re just there to “go through the motions”. As most of you know, I’ve had a few injuries in my knee since last August. I fell and really banged up my knee last August originally, and it hurt a lot for quite awhile. It was getting better, and then I twisted my ankle playing in the back yard with Samantha, and most receently I fell on some water on our hardwood floor in the kitchen I did not properly clean up. So I’ve had some sort of pain in my left knee since last August. When we got to the part in the sevice where we kneel for confession, I was thinking “What do I confess now? – So I told the Lord, “Look, you know me, you know all the stuff I’ve done, and right now, as I kneel here – I can’t think of a single thing to confess, and I know I’ve done a ton that needs to be confessed, so Lord, I’m sorry that I cannot remember what I’ve done wrong for you”. I was feeling pretty down about not being able to remember my own sins. There’s enough of them, I should be able to remember, but I really felt different about this confession, normally I can pass it off to something or another, but this one felt different. Then we got into the community confession part. At the end of it, when Fr L delivers the blessing, I had a rather huge smile, and an overwhelming feeling of happiness. Normally, I feel good about confession, but this was something different. It felt way stronger than usual, and then I realized I was kneeling down on the kneeler, without any pain. That was something I had not done since, well, since we first got them. So I was rather filled with joy about receiving God’s blessing, and being pain free at the same time. So I had to offer up thanks for it during prayers from the people (which you may have heard me say during the service). But it didn’t stop there.
During Father Lawrence’s children’s sermon, I took a bunch of pictures. As I try and take pictures with the flash off as to not disturb the service, I tend to take a lot of them because 90% of them are unusable and blurry due to no flash. Well, one of them worked out, and had quite a meaning for me. It was from the second attempt to get the Jesus paper to rise with the balloon. Right before the balloon got to the ceiling, the picture I took had a completely UNMISTAKABLE cross on it. Now the light behind the balloon was not shaped like that, and we don’t have any cross shaped lights that I know of in the church. The closest would be the big wooden cross behind the altar, but there’s no way I can think of that this cross would reflect on the balloon like this. I can only conclude that this was a message from God that I was supposed to be there today. Both to receive the absolution from sin, to feel pain free – this cross on the balloon was a message for me, I think. I did not see this cross until later in the afternoon on Sunday when I had dumped the pictures from my camera to my computer. It was quite powerful – I just stared at it for awhile. I’m not the kind of person who sees these things – I don’t see “Jesus in a pancake”, or “The Virgin Mary in tree bark”. So for me to see a cross in an object like that was quite powerful to me. Since God knows I’m a computer person, and someone who takes a lot of pictures, it felt like he was using this technology to reach out to me, and deliver me a message that he was glad I was there when I didn’t want to be.
So I get to work today, trying to figure out how to tell people about all this, and in my company’s interoffice email was a guy here who was selling his copy of the aforementioned “Rock Band” game from earlier in my story. He was selling it for about 33% off, and I wrote him back saying “It’s tempting man, as my little girl wanted to go bang on the demo unit at Sam’s Club Saturday, but it wasn’t there – I almost bought one on the spot – but I really don’t have the free cash to buy a $150 game, even discounted to $100, but thanks for the offer”. About ten minutes later, the guy shows up in my office, carrying the Rock Band game stuff. I said “Dude, my email was to say I was tempted, I really can’t afford to buy this, as much as I’d like to”. He responded with “I know. The joy of your little girl is a better thing to receive than the money I’d get.” I protested again with something like “That’s nice dude, but you could get some money for this”. He told me “Shut up, and take it home would ya?” So I backed off and accepted it. It was a very kind gift, and right after it happened, I could only thank the Lord for being in this man’s heart. When I replied to him about Samantha, I honestly was not intending to seek out a gift like that. The Lord must have been working in his heart. I feel it’s a nice bookend to the last 36 hours or so with me. I was obedient to God’s call to come to him and come to his house, so I was blessed both spiritually, and with an Earthly blessing, too.
I have to admit to still being a bit surprised by all this. Spencer, thanks for the email, my friend – or I would have likely missed all of this.