Monday, June 8, 2015

Church. But more than that, really.

Ecclesiastes 3: There is an appointed time for everything,A time for every activity under the heavens: A time for birth and a time to die;A time to plant and a time to uproot what was planted; A time to kill and a time to heal;A time to tear down and a time to build up; A time to weep and a time to laugh;A time to wail and a time to dance; A time to throw stones away and a time to gather stones together;A time to embrace and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to search and a time to give up as lost;A time to keep and a time to throw away; A time to rip apart and a time to sew together;A time to be silent and a time to speak;  A time to love and a time to hate;A time for war and a time for peace.What does the worker gain from all his efforts?10 I have seen the occupation that God has given to the sons of men to keep them occupied. 11 He has made everything beautiful* in its time. He has even put eternity in their heart; yet mankind will never find out the work that the true God has made from start to finish.12 I have concluded that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good during their life, 13 also that everyone should eat and drink and find enjoyment for all his hard work. It is the gift of God.

If you know anything about me, you know I love my church.  Like, really love my church. It's not just the kind of love that I share for donuts, or chik-fil-a, or everything else that's Southern and good. No, I really, truly, deep down have a passion for First Baptist Church Queen City. The people, the spirit and livelihood of the church, the heart beat of what makes that church so special and amazing are what I love. I know that the walls and the building aren't what constitute the church, but I even love the walls and the carpet and everything in between. The stained glass.... it gets me. It has been the backdrop to my life so far. It has comforted me in some of my darkest hours. It has cheered me on as I walked down the aisle to meet the love of my life. It has met me Sunday after Sunday as I sit and stand to worship my living Savior. I love everything about it. 

I've been at FBCQC for 29 years. This is me with my first and very best friend, Mary Beth, in the nursery. We were pretty much inseparable from the day this photo was taken until we graduated high school and went our separate ways. We grew up doing life together, with church at the center of it all. Now, we're still doing life together, as we are in the same life group. We meet on Thursday nights, eat dinner, let our children play, and learn about God's plan for our lives. I am so thankful for the influence these people have had in our lives the past five years. They have helped us through so many hard days, celebrated with us in the good times, and been an encouragement to keep moving forward. I love our life group. Like, love love them. 

When I was a child, I spent the summers at the church because my Mom was a secretary there. I'd work hard all morning at home to cross chores off my list so I could come play at the church all afternoon. No one entertained us. No one worried that we would be bored, or not understand the Gospel message as presented in an "adult setting". Oh, that's another post entirely!  I spent my afternoons creating in some obscure Sunday School room, writing plays for the children's ministry,  mixing concoctions from the leftover condiments in the fellowship hall fridge and daring the other kids to drink them. I had real conversations with the church members who dropped by during the week, to prepare a lesson, or restock their rooms, or organize the music closet. Those adults influenced me, even in the small and short passing conversations. Some will never know the huge impact they had on that little girl.  Some have already joined our maker in heaven and I can't wait to catch up with them, and talk again. The youth minister used to have open gym where 10-12 students would show up and we'd play cards, foosball, or volleyball for hours. We lived at the church. I grew up at the church. Now, I'm getting the unique pleasure of watching my boys grow up there, too. Here's Fischer, my son, with Mary Beth's daughter, in the hall at church, feet away from where the photo of their mothers was taken more than 25 years ago.  Amazing. 

Nowadays my church is about introducing my boys to Christ. I've said for a while now that my most important job as a mother is to point them in the direction of the Gospel, and everything else will fall into place. We are so fortunate to have a church that focuses on the children. My boys are quickly learning what it means to be about the Father's business, and I couldn't be more proud of them. I already joke that Porter will grow up to be a preacher, because he's always sharing about Jesus, and you can just see the joy spilling out of him. I can't wait to see the plan for his and Fischer's life played out. Whether it's Thursday nights for life group, Wednesday nights for youth, Sundays for AWANAS and worship... my boys love to be in God's house, and FBCQC is the only church they've ever known. 

I started this post saying there was a time for everything, and I think the time for our church is change. In the past two years we have made major changes to our service times, said goodbye to a beloved pastor, bid farewell to our best friends and youth ministers, welcomed a new pastor, chosen a search committee for a youth minister and started discussions about homosexuality and what it means for membership in our congregation. We've seen a dip in youth attendance, maybe due to summer, maybe in the absence of a full time minister. We've seen a boom in babies born in the past five years.  Times are changing at FBCQC, and while it is personally exciting for me, it is also nerve wrecking and challenging. I know God has a plan. I know he is good and faithful, and I know that as long as FBCQC serves Him, we will be just fine.

Soon, there will be a time to celebrate at FBCQC. Soon, everything will feel normal again and we can get back to being a church moving forward. Soon, and very soon, we'll be talking about new changes, and only God knows what they will be. I'm excited.

This is my prayer.

God, use me. Use First Baptist Queen City to minister to our community. Help us to be a bright light standing in a dark world. Help us to love, like you do, like Jesus does. Help us to rest assured in your plan for us. Help me to be the kind of church member you'd want me to be. Help me to hold my tongue, be slow to anger, and quick to love. God, I know changes are coming. Help me to embrace them, and if they effect me personally, help me to seek your face and find my place according to you. Thank you for my church, God. Thank you for the people there, and thank you for the opportunity to raise my boys in your house. Thank you for my wonderful Momma, who made sure I was there every time the doors were open, and sometimes when they were not. Thank you, Lord. 

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