I was pretty sure it was time for me to move on and find a new church. I haven’t felt challenged or convicted by the sermons lately, and to be honest it many times just feels like a self-help seminar with a little bit of Jesus thrown in as filler.
So, yesterday, I dragged AshCap along to the church Julie and Chris have been attending for the past few months, the one where Julie says she feels Your presence big-time, every time. I do like the preaching there, Lord. It pushes me towards You, and elevates my desire to live in Your truth. As we sang of how faithful You are, it led my heart to a place of worship, reminding me of Your awesome deeds in my life and how they show You are always, always there with me.
As we sat talking in the comfy chairs afterward, I basically came to the realization that I’d already decided in my heart to leave my current church even though it meant not spending Sunday with my best friend. I wasn’t really interested in joining a small group as Ashley suggested there because it didn’t seem as though these people were “my people”. Plus if the sermons weren’t God-focused, would the small groups be?
After church, AshCap and I ate lunch in Short Pump, walked around the mall, and then we decided to spend some time in nature. She suggested going to the river, but I wanted to stay a little more local so I suggested Deep Run Park, a place I’d only been for our company picnic once before.
We walked for awhile around the pond and through the trees, passing many families picnicking and grilling out. The food smelled great and Ashley and I lamented the fact that our days of group cookout and gatherings seemed to be a thing of the past. Our circle of friends from previous churches has petered out as people have gone their separate ways and it’s sad. I miss those times.
We sat on a bench in the woods near the running trail for twenty minutes or so and then decided it was probably time to head home. Down the trail abit we saw the parking lot and decided to cut through next to a picnic shelter. One man was there, setting up tablecloths and jamming to eighties music and as we walked closer he called out “Hey, guys!”.
It was Dan, from our church. AshCap and Richie, her boyfriend, had gotten to know him through a class at church, and we’d all gone to the Legwarmers concert at Veritas winery a few weeks ago. He continued on, saying “You’re early!”
“For what?” we asked.
“It’s our church’s Summer of Fun church-wide picnic! Isn’t that why you’re here?”
AshCap and I exchanged wide-eyed “What the Heck??” looks and admitted we’d stumbled upon the gathering completely by accident.
“Seriously?! That’s crazy!” Dan said. We couldn’t help but agree.
There were fifteen minutes left before others would get there, so we had an opportunity to talk. I was able to express that I’d been checking out another church and the reason why, and Dan had an opportunity to.let me know that our sermons were intentionally less weighty because their mission was to bring the unchurched in and not overwhelm them. Small group was meant to be where we dug deeper. Hmm. It was good to know that.
Obviously we stayed for food, and we got to meet some people that could maybe be “my people”. I heard others express that I wasn’t alone in my feelings toward the Sunday service, and that the community was where the magic happened. I was also asked repeatedly to share how we’d hilariously emerged from the woods and stumbled upon the church event.
AshCap and I left, both knowing You were up to something. We kept giggling at Dan’s surprising “Hey guys!”, and marveling at how You’d answered our longing for a community picnic so quickly. I also know You were guiding our footsteps, and that our ending up at that gathering was no accident or coincidence.
So now what? Am I supposed to stick it out and get involved? I was so ready to move on, but I can’t ignore Your obvious handiwork in orchestrating our afternoon. This is crazy.