Monday, June 16, 2008

Seek The Lord Sunday - My Testimony Part 2

It would take me nearly 16 yrs before I stepped foot as a member into a church again. It took moving to a new home and a patient and reassuring neighbor to convince me to give it one more try. This person, I can say with complete confidence, was certainly Heaven sent.

Before our current home, we had lived in our previous home seven years and knew only one of our neighbors. I don't blame that on the neighborhood, we just weren't that motivated to get out and get involved. Funny how having kids changes that.

The first few years that we lived in that home, there was virtually nothing around us. No gas stations, convenience stores, pizza joints or even a church on the corner. I remember seeing the sign "Future Home of Spring of Life Church" standing alone in a dusty, dirt field and thinking, "How nice. A church is going up". Not because I was planning on attending but because having a church on the corner means that the chances of having a liquor store or nightclub go up are pretty slim. A church on the corner is good for the neighborhood and property values.

But, if I'm going to be honest, there was a little part of me that wanted to belong to that church. I wanted to tip-toe in, have a look around, see what the people were like and, most importantly, make sure that I would not, in fact, get struck by lightning.

But I just didn't dare.

I had visions of the movie Invasion of the Body Snatchers where the aliens, upon recognizing that you are not one of them, stand frozen, arm extended, index finger pointed and scream the warning signal to the others that a "real person" was in their midst.

You know, like this:

It was just too terrifying a prospect for me handle so I stayed away. I mean, you can see how scary that would be, right? And I just knew they would all recognize me as "new" and, well, I just didn't want to be screamed at, okay?

Years would pass, the church went up, large banners inviting the community to Easter and Christmas services would come and go and, still, I never ventured near. We moved from one side of the freeway to the other and, almost immediately met our neighbors to the left of us - Steve, Jennifer and their three fabulous children (and I'm not just writing that because I know they'll read this - those kids really are fabulous - ask anyone). Friendly and inviting from the start, we hit it off and it wasn't long before many driveway conversations took place.

It was during one of those conversations that Jennifer politely inquired about whether or not we had a church home. When I said we didn't, she began, ever so slightly, telling me about Spring of Life. She didn't smother me with biblical facts or act the least bit shocked at the realization that she had moved her precious children right next to a couple of heathens joy-riding on the highway to hell. No, she just very casually invited us to join them for church one day, no strings attached.

At this time, I knew Jennifer well enough to confide in her my body-snatching-finger-pointing-warning-scream fear. She chuckled a bit and then assured me that no one would single me out in such a manner. I then relayed to her my previous experience attending a church some 16 years prior and she also assured me that no one would make me commit to any church function or attempt to move me into a community home. She told me I could be involved as much or as little as I wanted. That was comforting and I was happy to hear it but it would still be a few months before I took her up on the offer.

During those few months, Jennifer nor Steve ever made us feel like something was wrong with us for not going to church, but when I look back now, Jennifer did have that you-don't-know-what-you're-missing air about her. I recognize it now because I have that same air about me whenever I talk to someone who doesn't attend church. More specifically, doesn't attend Spring of Life. I'm a tad bit partial.

No, instead, Jennifer just kept politely inviting me and then came the day when I, taking a deep breath and mustering up all of my courage, finally did tip-toe in, had a look around and found out what the people were like.

And, I'm happy to say, not only was I NOT struck by lightning but not one person pointed and screamed at me. Whew!

I started out in what my minister refers to as the "ejection seats". Those are the end seats of the very back rows where people sit who may want to up and run during a service but don't want to disturb anyone else. Ejection seats make for a quick get-away. It took some time, but after finally accepting the fact that I was forgiven for the sixteen years that I was lost and that Christ loved me so much that He actually DIED for me, I have made my way up to the front. I no longer sit in an ejection seat. I sit in *my* seat, not surprisingly, next to Jennifer.

Little by little I got involved. A Christmas Angel here, a function there. A bible study this and a parenting class that. Jennifer also invited me to the MOPS (Moms Of PreSchoolers) group. I enjoyed getting to know the other moms so well that the following year I joined, what is now the M.O.M.S (Moms On A Mission) Leadership team. After serving a year on leadership, I was asked by the group's director to take over her position as she had decided to step down and move forward with God's new plan for her.

It's safe to say, I'm knee-deep in church activities now and though I may not live in a community home and am, without a doubt, at home with this community.

1 comment:

Daiquiri said...

Thanks for the heads up on the 2nd part of your testimony...I was excited to read it :)

I love the term "ejection seats".

Well, thank God for your neighbor lady...I think you're right...Heaven sent :)