Here is my story about a lesson learned the hard way! There is a popular non-denominational church here in Nashville I sometimes attend. The pastor is outstanding and is passionate about revival. This piqued my interest because God has really been pressing upon me an urgency for the church’s evolution. Once a week, there is a community prayer hour at this church, and I have attended it a few times. Yesterday, the thought came to me to go to the prayer hour, but I really didn’t want to go because it was cold and rainy. I felt the nudge to go, so I did. I went having no expectation other than knowing I would have some quiet prayer time without any distraction.
After the prayer hour was over, I was interested in introducing myself to the pastor since we both share a passion for revival and his sermons were somewhat forward-thinking. I told him who I was and said that God has been training me up for revival. He was very nice, asking me questions about my passion, and as I shared what God had been giving me about the urgency for an evolution of the church, beginning with the individual, it happened! He went full-on into saving me mode. He was frank and worried for me. I can appreciate that he wants to bring people to God, but I was taken aback when he said I was missing out on God because I didn’t belong to a church. In our 3 minute conversation, he had made assumptions about me, never having met me before. I left disappointed because we both are called to facilitate an awakening. We should be teammates, but instead, the belief that one must go to church to experience God caused a separation. In all honesty, I could have thought of many lessons the pastor could have learned from our exchange if I had spoken up. I know as much as I don’t want to admit it, it’s not about him but rather about me. What is the lesson for me? God is showing me through him?
As I thought about our exchange and what lesson I was to learn, many thoughts came to mind. At first, I thought maybe God had sent him as a messenger, letting me know it was time to join a church family again. I have been in church most of my life and am not opposed to joining one, even now, if that is what God directs me to do. There is much value in church, and many are lead to God through the church. However, that has not been my path. My spiritual growth and evolution happened most significantly when I stepped away from the beliefs of the church. For this girl, church hindered my personal relationship with God because the rules became my priority to prove my worth. God has met me outside the church walls and has met many others in the same way. There are many ways to God, and it sure doesn’t matter how one gets there!
God wasn’t asking me to join a church. Instead, the pastor allowed me to be bold and courageous by respectfully disagreeing with the assumptions he had made. I failed miserably as I quietly stood there and checked out instead of speaking up. He was also reminding me there are no right or wrong, but just different experiences and perspectives. The pastor has experienced a revival from the church side, and I experienced it individually. Our perspective on what revival is might be different, but the result is the same, an awakening into a relationship with God. Remember to focus on similarities; they unite.
Although there were lessons for each of us in this short exchange, the biggest and most important one was to surrender control. God sent me to the prayer hour for a specific reason, which was revealed to me in the first 15 minutes. I took it upon myself to approach the pastor. I was trying to open doors myself instead of waiting to walk through the doors opened for me. If it had been God’s will, the exchange would have happened a whole lot differently. He excited about my passion, I about his, and supporting each other to serve humanity. The funny thing is, God already knew I was going to take things into my own hands. He set everything up so I could practice. How am I going to respond when I get push back from sharing my Truth? Am I going to be courageous and bold? Am I going to be convicted and let His authority radiate in my words, body language, and actions? My kindergarten teacher would be placing a big red checkmark on me about now! Yes, she scarred me. Ha, Thankfully, the Big Guy is patient with me and sees my mistakes as stepping-stones!