For the longest time, Christianity and my faith was just about going to church. This was because church provided the “fun” social atmosphere I craved since I often wasn’t allowed to participate in other social activities. I think back to growing up, and how much I looked forward to going to church – but for the wrong reasons! I wasn’t going to learn about Jesus (although when I was a kid I did love to sing the songs and hear the stories), I was going to hang out with my best friends, “flirt” with the boys, and have fun passing notes in the back row while the preacher talked.
I laugh thinking about it now because my faith has come such a long way since then, but, funny enough, church is now my favorite place to be! When I only had a surface level relationship with the Lord and I was afraid of Him, I really didn’t try to go deep because I didn’t want to know who He was, and in reality, who I was. That changed in 2014 when a culmination of life events sent me into a whirlwind of depression. I felt like I had no hope. After trying other resources, I knew there was no one to turn to but Christ. I started seeking after Him, crying out to Him in prayer, and studying the Word. Little by little, my faith and perspective began changing. I started to learn who my Savior is, how much He loves me, and who He created me to be. I became aware of lies I believed and strongholds I had established.
As my journey has continued, my faith has only become stronger. When I go to church, I am surrounded by the Spirit, I rejoice in freedom, feeling the peace of God cover me and fill me. I was reminded just how powerful this is on a recent vacation I took to Mexico. Needless to say, it wasn’t the haven of relaxation I had hoped for. After switching hotel rooms for the 3rd time because I wasn’t getting any sleep, I was exhausted and frustrated. I walked 30 minutes in the heat to return my key for one hotel, and started walking back to the next. There was a loud street fair and I could feel my tension and anxiety increasing. So much noise, chaos, and people! I decided I would grab a smoothie to help cool off and made my way through the crowds. As I walked, complaints built up in my head about how I was wasting my vacation time with this trip, how annoyed I was to be in this country, how hot I was, and how I was probably going to go home sick because of all of the sleep I wasn’t getting. I definitely wasn’t smiling. As I was getting closer to the smoothie shop, music caused me to turn my head to the left. I blinked my eyes in disbelief. Across the busy street was what looked like people congregating in worship! I crossed the street, and walked toward the gathering. The sign on top of the space the people were gathering in read “Iglesia El Remanante” or “The Remnant Church”. At that moment I knew God was inviting me into His presence. I walked in, and people welcomed me lovingly. I joined the worshipers singing in Spanish and felt the most amazing sense of peace, joy, and excitement!
This is what Christ does, because He is love. He rescues us, pulls us out of our disastrous thoughts, and reminds us that He is our Savior. He fills us completely, reminding us that we are His children, not just pawns on a board game, or creations of science left to chance.
I know that churches do have problems – they are made of sinners. But when you go into a church, you are going into the presence of God. The Bible says “For where two or three gather in my name, there I am with them” (Matthew 18:20). The church is the body of Christ, there to help you when times get tough, to keep building you up wisely with the Word, as a place for you to worship and celebrate Jesus!
I will never forget my experience at that church in Mexico. It was so strong and powerful, it was most definitely the best part of my trip. I’m so grateful to God for blessing me with the church – when I was young and not so wise – and now, when I can’t wait to go every Sunday, to be filled with the presence of the Lord.