What does your church look like? Is it a small, traditional wooden or brick building with a steeple...a large stadium looking mega church...a more modern and minimalistic facility that resembles a warehouse or industrial building...or a chapel with rafters and buttresses and arches...or is it something else like a meeting room in a hotel or even someone's home?
Right now, my church looks like this...
because our church building is currently under a few feet of water and our membership is spread across the southern states.
I got to visit with a few members of my church family yesterday at a hotel a few miles away. It was my first face-to-face contact with anyone from my church since we evacuated for the storm. It was so nice to see everyone and get hugs and hear testimonies of God's faithfulness. I spent quite a bit of time talking with our Senior Pastor's wife. Several families from our church are staying at the same place...many families with young children. She told me that the mom's have worked it out so that each of them has an hour to spend with the Lord each morning...more time than most get at home. She said it's been wonderful and most of them return teary-eyed, having spent most of the time repenting. I was so blessed to hear that. They aren't just using that time to try to get the Lord to fix things or make them more to their liking...they are humbling themselves and repenting, probably mostly for the daily stuff that most of us aren't even phased by most of the time. Being in the environment they are in, surrounded by people every day that they might normally see once or twice a week, they see sin more easily and are also being provided the opportunity to deal with it daily. It got me thinking about the church...about community...about how nice it would be to have that.
A few months ago, I was talking to a friend of mine and she said she thought the idea of living together in groups was a good thing. Her thought was that we would experience much the same thing as the ladies at the hotel have...increased awareness of sin...deeper sensitivity to it...and we could also help each other in blocking off time to spend with the Lord and holding each other accountable, as well.
Of course, in the post-Manson/Jones/Koresh world the idea of living on some sort of commune sounds pretty crazy and downright scary. But I think living in suburbs and in a time of urban sprawl, even in churches we have lost some or all of the sense and reality of community.
I know living the way I have for the past week or so has had a profound effect on me. I am way more aware of my sin...and for some reason that I can only attribute to God, I am finding myself contributing and serving and sharing in ways I haven't before. One of my favorite things has been getting up early with my niece, feeding her and then having my time with the Lord. After that I fix breakfast for the family and clean the kitchen. It just dawned on me today that it hasn't even been a thought...and that I've actually enjoyed it. I wish I could also say that I haven't noticed that others haven't helped as much or as joyfully...but I can't. Yet, praise the Lord, that hasn't hindered me at all.
All of that, and I haven't been "cooped up" with the church. None of the family members I am staying with are believers. I can only image how much more sensitive and aware and contrite I would be in that circumstance. I truly covet what those ladies have had...yet I am grateful for how near the Lord has been to me and what He has made me aware of and protected me from while I have been without my church family to sharpen me and hold me accountable. He really is all we need...the rest is just blessings beside...or as we say in New Orleans "lagniappe (lan-yap)."