There have been days when I have wanted to give up. MANY DAYS! Tiredness had overcome me and I had grown weary. It’s not the sort of weariness that can be solved by sleep. This sort of weariness was deep down within my soul; it seemed to seep right down into my bones and made my belly ache. I had known many of these sorts of days.
There had also been many Sundays when I had not wanted to go to church. Yes, I confess, many Sundays when I had just wanted to stay in bed and leave Eric to get on with it. A few Sundays I managed to make it into the car and all the way to church but then had just stayed in the car outside church and cried. On a few occasions I had even started the car and reversed out of the parking space with the intention of driving away. Despite the battles that have raged within my soul some Sundays, I have always pitched up. Not always with the best attitude, not always with the enthusiasm that I should have, but I pitched up. That is step one to surviving the rough seasons!
Let me describe how bad it got at one point! During the week Eric was telling me that it was his desire that I enjoyed the journey. I had been particularly down in the dumps and very negative about everything. I loved God with all my heart but was drained by church. During a conversation one evening I told Eric how much I hated church and began to spew all my complaints over him,
“I don’t even know if God is with us, surely if He were with us there would be more fruit and at least some growth? It has been two years now and people have come and gone but our weekly attendance is still the same as when we started! In fact it has dropped!
Surely if God were with us things would have been showing some improvement by now? How about signs and wonders? We are supposed to be seeing the mighty hand of God move but all we see is hard work day in and day out with no fruit!
Do the people that we are working so hard for even love God? Do they read their Bible and pray or do they only love the benefits of church? They come for the free food and all the nice things we do for them, but do they come because they love God?
Even our team! I am not convinced that they have a deep relationship with God, they just enjoy the cool stuff about church, but do they love God? I am not convinced any more. I am not sure if any of this is worth it! Those of us that have been doing this for two years are drained now; we have lost our passion and are working ourselves to death – for what? So that others can come in and sponge off of our work and give nothing back?
I am tired, I am fed up and I hate church on Sundays. I don’t even want to go anymore. I dread Sundays and don’t have the energy for all this.”
And so the complaining and grumbling continued. I was weary and I wasn’t convinced that God was even with us. I had lost my passion for the House of God and wanted out. Although I wanted out I would never leave or quit. Something inside of me had to keep going. There was always that one little ‘what if?’ What if breakthrough was around the corner? What if people really did love God and just needed more time? What if God was testing us and our perseverance? What if I was wrong and this was just how it is?
The ‘what ifs’ plagued my mind and kept me motivated to pitch up Sunday after Sunday until breakthrough came – and it did come. It came in the most unexpected way too. It was a regular Sunday morning and I was doing what I always do – I pitched up and I did my best to do my part. I was on autopilot getting busy with doing what I had to do. After sorting out the kids, chatting to visitors, pouring some coffee and listening to a homeless woman’s woes, I sat down to ‘enjoy’ the service.
This was a Sunday when I had the opportunity to participate in the worship and not lead it. I sat in the front row with the children. We sang a few songs and then the children started to get rowdy. They started singing passionately and loudly – all you could hear were their voices. Sweet sounds of four year olds were rising up to heaven singing, “Bless Your Holy name, bless Your Holy name, bless Your Holy name, bless Your Holy name”
It was a beautiful sound and I was humbled by their worship. I agreed with them and said, “Yes Lord, bless Your Holy name, you are so worthy of the awesome praise of these little ones, I know how much this must bless You. Bless Your Holy name Lord!” It wasn’t my worship, it was their worship, but I knew how much it must have blessed God, and I was pleased for God that He was receiving such pure worship this morning. It made me feel ashamed of my pitiful worship. He was God Almighty and deserved so much more than I was giving Him. My heart was softened and ready to receive the Word that my wonderful husband was about to preach! Little did I know that his sermon would rock my selfish world and totally blow my mind! It changed me back into the passionate, lover of God’s House that I used to be. Without further ado, let me share his sermon with you – over to Eric...