Prayer works; a simple sentence, but such a powerful reality. Those were the words my pastor used as we commenced our 3 day journey of early morning intercessory prayer as a church body after our inauguration of our new sanctuary a few weeks ago. That Monday was a holiday and the kids were out of school. I was determined to attend this meeting alone. Despite literally being surrounded by hundreds, I needed the solitude with Jesus…to be in His sanctuary.
I’d awaken before my alarm that morning. I needed to hear from God. Indeed, I did. It seemed as if the moment I walked into the building, the Lord reminded me that He missed me. Odd as that may sound…considering I’d attended church regularly for years and that children were still participating in a lot of ministries (mime, praise dance, choir, and even drama to name a few)... and it seemed that I was a volunteer every time anyone asked. Yet, while I was arrested in my spirit, I was forced to acknowledge that neither of us was really active in ministry. I know it sounds like I’m contradicting myself, but God scolded me that first morning. He told me that He’d given me gifts to use for His glory alone and that I’d allowed the reality I’d faced over the years (a divorce, lies, and a period of unemployment cloud my view of that purpose and of His provision. …that I’d allowed “busyness” to replace true submission to His will.
A few years ago it seemed that time was on my side. I was attending school 2-3 nights a week, worked full time, was active in my church choir, attended both 8am, and 11 am services, attended Sunday School, managed to cook breakfast for kids in the mornings, attended basketball games and piano recitals, and I even had time to work in my yard. I had to ask myself this morning, what happened?
It wasn't that I'd been magically granted an extra 8 hours a day or that I secretly had a clone, but that Mathew 6:33 was not just a random verse I touted to sound more spiritual, it was a way of life. I sought God's approval, direction, and authority in every aspect of my life. Perhaps because I felt like at the time I was living with the enemy, His way was my only refuge or perhaps, I actually realized that I couldn't do any of that without God's help. I'd love to say it was the latter, but in my human frailty I know that at least my initial thirst began in that pit.
Yet, with all of the things I've been faced with in the last few weeks, God answered that question again for me. I had lost my first love. I'd stopped seeking him first in everything. I'd stopped letting him guide me in all of my decisions. I'd stopped praying regularly, I'd even stopped praying with my children regularly, and I'd stopped listening to his warnings. Yet, I found myself more often than not, asking for mercy at every turn. I actually had convinced myself somehow that I could "do" enough to make up for what I hadn't done so, yes, I still went on doing all the things that I thought I “should” do.
Then it hit me, I’m doing too much and getting absolutely nothing accomplished!
Even a few Sundays ago, I found myself attending 8 am service from the pews instead of the choir stand. I had the urge (I know now from the Holy Spirit) to remain seated with my children during this service. However, when I decided to get in the choir stand for the 2nd service, one of the choir members asked me about it. Here’s how it went:
“I took a break this morning, I felt like I needed to sit with my kids.”
“Honey, your kids are old enough to sit in the service without you, you need to be up here in the choir”
I just sort of gave a bit of a grin and nodded because granted the woman who stated it was much older and shouldn’t wisdom come with age?
Not so…not stating that this matriarch was ill-advised or any less than the great woman of God I’ve admired her to be for years, but this comment didn’t sit well with me at all. In fact, the next Sunday in Sunday school, I was confronted with the same reality that confirmed my gut- feeling that though she had been acting in love, she still had been a pawn of satan like Peter had in his attempt to rebuke Christ from offering Himself as the ultimate sacrifice.
Essentially, I knew in my heart that my spiritual journey started at home. I needed to get back to the basics of teaching my children with my actions and not with just words. I knew that yes my children were at stake and no one knew what I was dealing with at home but Jesus. And, no amount of good deeds or duties in the public eye would ever equate to being a living example of Christ in my home. Being a doer of things(YES, EVEN IN THE CHURCH) has very little to do with being a doer of the WORD. So, yes indeed, as of this week, I have scaled back a lot and will likely be scaling back even more to allow quality time for my children, myself, and most importantly My God.