Somewhere in 2015, I started getting excited for church. I started anticipating the worship, the teaching, the togetherness.
For someone who has been attending church her whole life, this was unexpected. For someone who doesn’t care much about being around large groups of people, this was surprising. For someone who can’t actually sing well at all, this was a little confusing.
We will be glad and rejoice in you.
Song of Solomon 1:4
In 2015 I decided to finally spend time in my Bible with my God every day. I was still teaching middle school at the time, so this meant my morning started at 5:30. It wasn’t ever easy, but I just said I was done making excuses and started doing it.
I delight greatly in the Lord; my soul rejoices in my God.
I think when you start intentionally spending time in the Word, you have abstract, lofty ideas about what will happen:
I’m going to be more patient.
I’ll be more in tune with God’s plan.
My day will go better.
I’ll feel more grounded and peaceful.
Those are good and true. You probably will. But not all the time. You still have bad days, times that try your patience, moments where you have no clue what God is planning, and situations that feel the opposite of peaceful.
What I didn’t see coming was how He would transform my Sunday morning attitude.
I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms–
I’m singing at the top of my lungs,
I’m so full of answered prayers.
My church didn’t change. New, exciting people didn’t start attending. The worship team didn’t add a crazy new instrument or my favorite song to the rotation. Our minister didn’t suddenly begin teaching a sermon series I felt was important.
Not a single thing at my church changed.
Just my heart.
Just my thoughts.
Just my attitude.
Create in me a pure heart, O God, and a steadfast spirit within me.
God used my pursuit of Him to give me a new point of view for the corporate worship I was involving myself in. Slowly over the course of a few months in 2015, He set my heart on fire for attending church.
I’m not going to say it wasn’t weird. I like church enough. I learn. I connect. I grow. I tithe. I serve. I worship. But somewhere in the moments of reading His Word, learning more about His heart, and submitting, He gave me different eyes to see a place I’d been looking at for almost two decades.
My mouth will speak in praise of the Lord. Let every creature praise his holy name for ever and ever.
He took my routine and made it exciting.
He took my attendance and made it full of anticipation.
He took my drive in and made it brim with joyful expectancy.
I was getting to hear about my God. I was getting to worship with fellow believers. I was getting to take communion with my husband. I was getting to take our girls to their classes to learn. I was getting to give part of God’s money back to Him. I was getting to walk into a church building unafraid of persecution.
All of it became a gift and less of an obligation.
Church attendance became a celebration instead of a chore.
And nothing about my church had changed. It was my heart. It was God doing a work in me. It was the Holy Spirit helping a little more of Jesus come through and a little less of Mary.
We thank you, God, we thank you–
your Name is our favorite word;
your mighty works are all we talk about.
I often hear from people who wish they had a better church. They wish their preacher was more eloquent. They wish the music was different. They want deeper relationships and less fake interactions.
I think we all want that. We all desire to attend a place that feels alive, safe, and full of growth.
So we leave our church and try a new one.
But then the next church doesn’t meet the standards either. The new place still has some challenging bits, some things we don’t like, some things we don’t agree with.
So we leave again.
And we never really find what we’re looking for.
I think the answer might not be a new church. I think the answer might be our hearts. I think the answer might be we’re making demands, but not doing anything in obedience first.
I think the answer might start with us instead of the church we attend.
(Yes, sometimes we have to leave a church. Abuse, major theology differences, sin, and other big issues can’t be overlooked and shouldn’t. This is not a call to stay at sick, dangerous places. )
Holy, holy, holy is the Lord God Almighty;
the whole earth is full of his glory.
But what if before we left, we did some internal work first? What if we started showing up every day and getting in God’s Word instead of just Sunday mornings with the preacher? What if we began to sit with God alone in prayer and learning before we sat down in a pew once a week?
I didn’t expect my heart to long for corporate worship and teaching. I’m an introvert to the core and don’t often long for the company of others. But God started shifting things, started taking out pieces of my selfish heart, and inserting new parts that reflected His. He began to ready me for praise and offering during the quiet morning hours when I was days away from a Sunday service.
I love that I can learn about God through His Word, but at the exact same time, He can be such a surprising mystery to me. I know His promises, but He’s also full of wonder and miracle.
God–you’re my God!
I can’t get enough of you!
I’ve worked up such hunger and thirst for God,
traveling across dry and weary deserts.
I love that the shock and awe of serving a God who can still astonish and amaze me after thirty seven years will never wear off. I love that over four years into spending daily time with God, my excitement and expectancy for church hasn’t dulled. I still feel a little thrill when I walk into church every Sunday.
Are you excited for church on Sunday? Are you excited to praise and worship and learn? If you’re not, I know a great way to get there, and it has nothing to do with finding a new church.