I was running late for the church service.
It was a sunny summer Sunday morning--a perfect day to walk into that new church for the first time. I had heard about the church from a friend at work. Intrigued, I studied about the church on their website, and then later I learned about their inspiring worship via informal Bible Studies with my friend over several weeks.
But what I studied, heard, saw and read hardly prepared me for the real thing.
I parked my car in one of the "Reserved for Visitors" spaces near the front door--which immediately impressed me--and turned off my car. My driver's side window was rolled down, and instantly I heard the muffled sound of music and singing. It was much different from the loud "head banging" tune I was listening to just a minute before.
It drew me.
As I walked toward the church doors, one of them opened and a man smiled and welcomed me in with a warm handshake.
Just inside the door, a lady--she could have been his wife--handed me a church bulletin.
"Is this your first time here?" she asked me, also smiling.
"Yes, I was invited." I answered, and gave my friend's name.
"Oh that is so wonderful! We're so happy to have you here. Could you please sign our Guest Book." I signed it, then she handed me a welcome Guest packet. It included a free Bible, a video and newsletter about the church, along with a pen.
As she was speaking, I kept looking over her shoulder into the sanctuary. The music and singing were louder there, and I could hear the words.
Right away--I didn't understand it--but, I felt like I belonged there.
Another man met me at the sanctuary doors, and he ushered me into the presence of dozens of people, all standing, singing heartfelt praises to the Lord.
At first I was simply a spectator, but after a few moments, I found myself singing right along with everyone around me. The lyrics were projected on a screen in the front, so it was easy to catch on. After a couple of faster tempo songs, they started singing a slow one. I couldn't help it--I felt it.
I felt what they must have been feeling.
I started crying. Why was I crying? I really didn't know why. It spontaneously happened, like when I was at my sister's wedding--she was so beautiful, and I was so happy for her, and just thankful to be there. That's
it....that's how I felt! The presence of the Lord was so beautiful, and I was so happy and thankful to finally be there.
I saw some of the people raising their hands toward heaven, so I decided to try it too. Tears flowed down my face as I raised my hands and I closed my eyes. Then, something wonderful happened: I felt as if I was standing in a place where there was no time, no pressures, no worries--just peace, peace, just wonderful peace. Wow!
Jesus, the Prince of Peace found me.
"Peace, peace, wonderful peace, coming down from the Father above.
Sweep over my spirit, forever I pray, in fathomless billows of love..."
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