This morning I woke up to get ready for the 11 o’clock church service. I was saddened by the fact that I would (again) be going to church alone.
Ever since I was younger, my family made it a habit to go to church every Sunday. Sundays were reserved for the Lord. No matter how busy you were nor how tired or sick-feeling you were… you WENT TO CHURCH. The same went for school.
I remember one Sunday morning, I begged my dad to stay home. Just that weekend, I was playing in the woods and came home with poison ivy up and down my neck, face, arms and legs. The next morning, I woke up with a puffy face and was too embarrassed to literally show my face to anyone. This was one of the first and only times he allowed me to skip church.
In college, where I am free to make my own decisions, church has become more than a routine I felt I needed to continue. Church has become a GOOD habit. I go not out of obligation, but because I hunger God’s Word and desire to surround myself with other people who love Him just as much as I do. Coming home from a sermon has always turned into an opportunity for an in-depth conversation about life and the future. Those conversations are ones I look forward to.
So when I go to church by myself, I instantly become discouraged. And I realize that THAT is the point at which the enemy can come attack me.
On the way to church, I turned on K-Love, a Christian radio station in Upstate New York. One of the songs was a proclamation of Psalm 23:1-4.
1 The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not want.
2 He makes me lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside quiet waters.
3 He restores my soul; He guides me in the paths of righteousness. For His name’s sake.
4 Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for You are with me; Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.
During the service, the pastor shared with the congregation this SAME passage. This time the Psalm was fully interpreted to me:
Sheep are easily frightened, but the shepherd comforts them, protects them and gives them peace. The shepherd’s duty is to provide and guide His flock with His staff. The shadow of death could also mean shadows of darkness. The sheep may travel through darkness at times and they may feel so frightened to the point of death, but the shepherd is always beside them (with them) to comfort them. The church is the Lord’s flock of sheep and He is the shepherd.
This may sound dramatic, but I can become so discouraged and so sick-to-the-stomach when I go anywhere by myself, especially to church. But God’s Word through this Psalm has been more comforting to me and more meaningful than ever before. God has given me comfort through His Word even when I am not intentionally trying to find comfort in it. He knows my heart and what I need before I ask Him (or don’t ask Him).
Lord, I praise You. I pray that You fill my car with friends that are consistent and willing to come to church with me. And even if that does not happen, I still thank You for comforting me through Your Word and through Your Spirit whom dwells within me. Thank You for being my shepherd. Amen.