What I Learned at Church this Week

This summer, I've felt kind of distant from God. In my head I've told myself  "Oh, it's because i'm not at my church home, I just feel so much closer to God at Church of the Highlands" or " I don't have a set schedule like I did at school and it's harder to fit Him into my unpredictable day to day". But this week at church really hit me hard. I attended the church that me and my family go to back home in Indiana and the lead pastor talked about worship. Typically we think of worship as the songs we sing at the beginning of church, but he emphasized that worship should be a state of the heart and an attitude that we adopt. It's the importance of going through our daily lives trying to honor God in everything that we do. The pastor made such a great point that worship isn't about us, but about bringing pleasure to God and a decision we have to make to focus on Him and bring Him praise. That God truly desires to be in fellowship with us, and we can make this decision to come submit to Him in worship in this way. When the pastor talked about how "it's not about us" that really stuck with me. He described how so often when he would visit churches he would leave with the attitude of "oh well their worship wasn't that great" or " I didn't exactly get a lot from the message" but that a church experience is what you make of it. You have the conscious decision to come before God and worship Him in whatever way you are given the opportunity to. 

While I don't believe this discredits the importance of finding a church home where you thoroughly enjoy every aspect of church and best feel God's presence, it really opened my eyes to the negative attitude I had adopted this summer. I had spent way too much time dwelling on the fact that I wasn't at Church of the Highlands, so much so I became unfocused on the big picture and that's Jesus. Plain and simple. While I am beyond excited to get back to Church of the Highlands and into my normal routine (and even to begin serving there!!!) I really want to learn from this season of my faith that I have been in this summer. One of the other biggest points of the message from Sunday that stuck with me was the idea that if you are not worshipping the Lord, you are worshiping something else in your life. For some that might be money, their job, a person, or a goal. This made me take a step back and seriously reevaluate what I was most focused on, because while all those things are important, there's nothing that matters more than our Jesus. 

I totally believe dry spells in faith are normal. We all go through rough patches and times when it's harder to trust God than others, and there are also times where we feel on top of  the world like we couldn't be closer to Him. It's important to know that we all experience it. As soon as I heard this message, I realized I was at sort of a dry spot in my faith. I started asking myself questions such as, "When was the last time I really sat down and had a conversation, just me and God?". Because I hadn't been consistently going to church and staying involved in small groups and bible studies like I do at school, I had lost sight of Him. This message was exactly what I needed to hear to refocus and somewhat reignite that fire for the Lord again. Isn't it crazy and so cool how God sends us messages in that way? He knew I needed to hear the message the pastor had prepared, and He provided in that time. 

Another one of my favorite things from this message and one of the biggest takeaways were all of the things that happen when you are in God's presence. The pastor listed off things such as transparency and being open with God, intimacy and feeling close to Him in a special way,  as well as clarity about the things you have on your mind. I feel like there have been so many times in the past where I am unsure about a decision I'm making or what to do in a situation and I always ask God to give me the answer. A big realization I have had is that He can't give me the answer if I'm not spending time with Him and in His word. I absolutely love the verse James 4:8, "Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you". This brings me to the pastor's next point about what happens when you are in God's presence, and that's the idea that when you are focused on God, you will hear from Him. It's hard to hear from Him and see Him when you are too focused on other things of this world. I love this verse because it's a reminder to fix my eyes on Him, and in turn, He will come closer to me. The last two things the pastor mentioned was a burden to tell others about Jesus, as well as the feeling of victory in Christ. I love this entire list of reasons to serve as a reminder about why worship is so important, and why it is crucial to make it an attitude and mindset to go about serving the Lord in all that we do. 

This summer has opened my eyes to a lot of things and this message especially encouraged me to reevaluate my attitude and to be more intentional about drawing near to Christ. This message serves as a reminder that even when I am attending church at other places besides what I would call my church home, I am able to make a conscious effort to decide to come into His presence and let Him work in my life. I can't wait to get back to school and into this next season of life and faith and see all that God has in store.

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