We’re sitting in an old sanctuary that has seen better days. Beautiful stained glass windows line the room but grime and cloudy skies let in little light. It’s pouring rain outside and our umbrellas are sitting below our pew with little streams of water flowing away from them.
This is church #4, and I’m ready for the search to be over.
How do people church-shop for months or years? How do they handle the non-community being a searcher brings?
This church reminds me of Wheatland, but I find myself criticizing everything that isn’t just like my old church.
Why are they talking SO LOUD during the prelude? Don’t they realize the drums are way too strong for this small room?
It’s not home. It’s not the church I loved and left. It’s not the church that he loved and left.
God, just open my heart… open my eyes to what it is – and not how it falls short of my ridiculous expectations.
I’ve breathed that prayer at every service we’ve attended because it’s just so hard to replace something you loved.
Despite my ingratitude and my critical spirit, He is faithful and He extends grace.
The pastor stands and opens the Word – and it’s everything I needed to hear and more. It’s a Psalm of lament and David pours out his heart to God. Pursued by enemies, seeing a hopeless future, he begs God to vindicate him.
“We are called to radical honesty,” the pastor says. “We can bring complaints to God because we know God by name. He is the one who never tires of hearing our complaints and cries for justice.”
I’m filled with complaints about my new life. A life that has been nothing but blessing and God’s good provision, but I’ve picked out all the little bad parts and fixated on them, unable to see anything bigger than my own selfish desires.
“God has been waiting to answer your prayers longer than you have been waiting for an answer,” and it’s like he’s piercing my soul.
How many times have I even asked for grace or help? I can probably count on one hand how many times I’ve gone to prayer with my complaints.
I’m lonely and bored working from home, and struggling to see my flexible schedule as a huge blessing that has allowed me to spend time at the DMV, social security office, the bank, and setting up our apartment after a crazy fast move across states. My car requires serious body work that is keeping it in the shop for two weeks – and I never got renter insurance in case of an accident. Still, my insurance waived my deductible, and we can manage on the bus system and a day or two renting a car from Enterprise across the street when it’s absolutely necessary. If I hadn’t been working from home, we’d be out almost $400 to rent a car.
Why am I so blind to that blessing?
It’s like I wrote last year at this time – it’s easier to be consumed with complaints rather than choose gratitude and joy – which are life giving and life changing.
The pastor finishes his message and invites us to communion. Turning the page in the worship booklet, my eye catches on this prayer:
Lord Jesus, I admit that I am weaker and more sinful than I ever before believed, but, through you, I am more loved and accepted than I ever dared hope.