When I became a Christian at the end of my sophomore year of high school a strange and foreign belief grew in my spirit.
It started when I noticed something happening before church. When my grandparents and I got there people were already doing something. Curious, I asked what. Bible study I was told.
Well, why in the world aren’t we in Bible study? I thought.
We started going.
Then I noticed that they were discussing these Wednesday meetings for more bible study. I wanted in on that too.
The summer before my junior year was a great exploration for me. I was in the Word. I was going to church for every service I could get to. Even these really strange week long events they had.
Then school started. Homework rolled in. Then band and chorus practices after school. Then concerts.
But what about church? I wanted to be in Bible study. I wanted to feed on the Word and fellowship with people that were like me. I was so alone at school now that I was a Christian stuck in the belly of the beast. What could I do?
I decided then and there, if it made me miss church, I wouldn’t go. Nothing from school would keep me from church. Nothing from the world would keep me from the spiritual food I was starving for.
I missed a concert or two. I lost a letter-grade. I had preacher’s wives toting me around Washington DC so I could make it to Sunday worship while I was on a band trip. I never missed church.
Time went on… an on… I married. I started a family. I did missed church a time or two when I had strep throat, was in labor and a kid was puking.
As for anything else, if it made us miss church, we wouldn’t go.
Then one of those children died. I wanted to die too. I didn’t want to get out of bed. I didn’t want to get dressed. I certainly didn’t want to go to church.
But there was something deep inside of me. There was a core, fundamental belief that gnawed and then propelled me. I must. I must go. I might not feel like going but right now that didn’t matter. I had to go.
Oh, I had the excuse of all excuses. No one would dare question my absence. I was sunk in grief, drowning in depression and overwhelmed by sorrow.
But I never missed church. I dare not, even then.
Almost three years later I realize how the “law” I made for myself saved me. It kept me stepping. It kept me from sinking. It kept me in the arms of the Savior and his body.
I believed Satan would win.
If he could keep me from one service he could keep me from two. Then he could keep from as many as he wanted. I couldn’t let that happen. Not now.
I needed to grab Jesus’ hand and step.
Walking into church the first Sunday after Azaiah died took every piece of strength I had and the prayers of hundreds to carry me. As I walked town the long hallway to the sanctuary I felt like I was walking the plank. When I walked into that room I would be overwhelmed by all he faces. The waves of tears and pain intertwined with helplessness would sink me, I thought.
But they didn’t. I didn’t miss church. I couldn’t miss church.
I knew the world was watching this Christian blogger/preacher’s wife/Sunday school teacher. Christians were watching. They would see how I reacted. They would see what I did. I never wanted to lay one stone on the road of their excuses to neglect the meeting of saints.
The church is too important. Survival is too important. Salvation is too important.
I stepped. I went. I survived.
And I tell you, you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it. Mt. 16:18