Today we continue the story of my journey to true faith.
In the part two of my Focus on Faith series I mentioned my return to church after years of not attending. The thing that originally drove me away from church was money. It just didn't sit right with me that each Sunday it seemed the sermon always came down to money. Give to the church, give, give, give, give. I am not talking about the normal passing of the tray each Sunday. I am not talking about regular tithes. I am talking about sermons that always seemed to eventually lead to the insinuation that God's word amounted to "give the church money". It just didn't sit right with me.
It had been years since I had regularly attended church. The thing that drove me away that last time was the associate pastor. She was doing the pre-marital counseling for me and Mr Wrong. Just days before the wedding she told me that she didn't really want to marry us because she didn't think it would work out. She said she was still going to do the wedding because she knew if she didn't we would just go somewhere else and get married. She said again that she felt we shouldn't get married. Years later I know she was right, but I still don't think she handled the situation right. If she really felt we shouldn't be married she shouldn't have done the ceremony and if she was going to go ahead and do the ceremony she never should have said those things to me at all. It put a huge black cloud over my wedding to know that we were being married by someone who was against the marriage.
My wedding day was the last day I set foot in that church.
It was 8 years later before I would make the decision to go back to church. (not that church of course) I spoke before of how the sermon that day spoke to my soul. There was more to the experience though. The service had opened with some songs and I was amazed to hear that they had a modern air to them and pretty good beats. This was not my parents' church. After the worship team was done, the pastor began to speak. He welcomed everyone and began talking to us. I say talking because that is the way it felt. He was talking to us and not preaching at us. He cracked jokes and had fun as he spoke. It was not what I had expected.
After a few weeks things changed. Suddenly every sermon was about money. The church wanted to expand. They needed millions to do it. Yes, millions. I thought I would give it a few weeks and see if it would pass. A month went by and still every Sunday was a plea for money. I gradually quit going.
I have no problem with giving to church. I really don't. I just don't see why in recent years churches have decided they need to be huge, fancy, glamorous places that cost millions. We have one church here in town that actually calls itself a megaplex. A MEGAPLEX?!?!? That is a term that should only be used for shopping centers and movie theaters. Why does a church need a movie theater in it? Yes, one or two churches here have those. Auditoriums? Total gyms? Where does it talk about all that stuff in the Bible?
So, I stopped going to church. I didn't lose my faith or what I believed at the time to be faith. Not yet. Not until my dream was crushed. Not until what I had thought to be God's plan for me was taken away. Not until we got the message.... LP was gone!
It was in November and it came in the form of a crummy email. An email that simply said the child was no longer available but they had told the coordinators that they would need a wonderful boy to replace him.
Replace him. <--- have you ever seen uglier words? I sure hadn't.
For nine long months, the span of a pregnancy, I believed that LP would be our son. We had already referred to him as our son. Every day I looked at the bright eyes in those photos and believed this was the child God intended to be my son. I had believed it with all my heart. I had faith in The Lord's plan to make LP my son.
It wasn't to be. LP was gone and so was my faith.
If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. (James 1:5-6)
Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. (Colossians 3:2-4)