I’ve learned over the years, that sometimes church just has to wait. And coming from a fairly religious person, that just might throw you off.
The snow was falling ever so softly Sunday morning…small tender snowflakes barely making it to the too-warm ground. And yet, by some defiance of nature, the snow was laying and sticking to the brown bermuda grass in our backyard.
You see, we live in North Carolina and with only a handful of exceptions, snow is not a regular occurrence “around these parts.”
And even the slightest sighting of snow is a cause for celebration, especially in the minds of my 3 and 6 year olds. As my oldest stumbled out of her room, bedhead and all…at an all too ungodly an hour, I told her to come quick and peek outside.
The sheer excitement in her eyes reaffirmed all that is joy to me…the joy that sometimes only a young child can truly capture and appreciate.
And yet I knew…I knew that despite the flakes still falling, their time here was limited…the temperature for the day was slowly climbing, surely to be out of the 30s by 9 or 10 that morning.
BUT IT WAS SUNDAY...
But it was Sunday…church day in our family. And it’s been that day for every Sunday of my 36 years on this earth.
You see, my grandfather was a preacher…my great grandfather was a preacher. My mom was their daughter…so in my mind, she’s basically a preacher. And my dad grew up going to the church where my grandfather was a preacher…
So Sundays have meant church for our family.
Growing up, God, faith and the church were of the utmost importance in our home.
There were musicals we practiced for. And lots of singing in the choir. My mom taught Sunday school, my dad was the piano player. My mom sang for the church. They taught youth group.
The church was an integral part of our lives.
And then it wasn’t.
Lots of converging circumstances left my parents without a church they could call home…one where they felt they belonged. One in which they felt God’s whisper.
Did my parents turn their back on God?
Did they blast religion and all its tenants that they had held so close to their heart?
Did they decry the church and all the fallible people that attended it?
No – not once.
And they never wavered in their faith or in instilling that in us as their parents.
Many Sundays I can vividly recall “making the rounds” to various churches, trying them out, seeing which one felt “just right.” All the while, I was learning that what made my parents Christian and what led their souls on this earth was not church.
It was God…and God would lead our family whether or not we were at church.
Many Sundays during this time, our family would gather in our small den for Bible study…not even “ours” since it was my grandparents 800 square foot home that housed the 5 of us.
But even in a time when there seemed to be so little to be thankful for, my parents gave thanks.
When there was no sunday school to attend, my mom taught us from devotional books. She read the books of the Bible and explained in detail the story and how it could relate to our lives right then.
And in time, we found our way back to the church.
But I had learned that God’s whisper doesn’t have to be found in the church. And I learned that the church is an institution…made up of people…regular people. And regular people make mistakes…do bad things…don’t lead by example.
You know…all the stuff regular people fail at every day.
And I also learned that while church wasn’t the end-all be-all, it was important enough that my parents spent a year or more finding just the right one.
Just like an alcoholic attending an AA meeting doesn’t mean he won’t drink again, it sure does help to surround himself with lots of other people who don’t want to drink.
Which brings me back to this past Sunday.
And the snow…all the glorious snow…all 1/8 inch of it.
And the smile on my girls’ faces.
And their hope to “play” in it and build a snowman.
And that 9:30 church start time.
And that mercury rising on the thermometer telling me that this snow wouldn’t be here when we got home from church.
And me saying that today, on this Sunday, church would have to wait.
And me telling my husband to dress warm. And me laying out 2 pairs of pants for each girl since we don’t actually own any snow pants. And me finding gloves that have been buried for a year and pulling hats on heads that barely fit anymore.
And watching my girls play in the snow…and live it up….and soak up all the joy and excitement their little hearts could handle.
And seeing God…right there in my backyard…and for today, not in the 4 walls of our church.
Because sometimes church just has to wait…but God’s love doesn’t.
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