Excuses are something I hate to hear from other people, but as I found out this past weekend, I have a whole suitcase of my own.
Before I moved here I already knew that I wanted to check out services at a church that my friend and former co-worker pastors.
When Josh Doughty heard of my pending move several weeks earlier he sent me a personal invite to services. The Sunday following my move he noticed my absence, but gave me a break since I had just moved in a day earlier.
The following week we spoke again and he offered another invitation and made sure I knew what time services were.
For the second week in a row my absence didn’t go unnoticed.
Several days later I was interviewing Josh and his new bride, Kristen, for the Happily Ever After section you will find in this edition of the newspaper. Josh gently reminded me of service times.
As Sunday loomed nearer my anxious mind was hard at work on excuses.
“Does your church have an ‘unspoken’ seating arrangement?” I asked him by text.
“What?” was the reply.
“I went to a new church once and I had to move three times before services even started because apparently people in that church ALWAYS sat in the same seat every Sunday! I don’t want to mistakenly take someone’s seat,” I replied.
“No one has assigned seating at our church, unspoken or not,” he relied. “You can sit anywhere. Don’t forget, 10:15!”
After a busy weekend, Sunday morning dawned bright and early. My head was again filled with excuses why I shouldn’t attend.
Eventually I knew that all the excuses in the world wouldn’t justify another missed Sunday.
Shortly after arriving at church that morning I received another blow that could have convinced me to turn around and go home. Just as I was walking up to the front door of the church I slipped on a small patch of ice that anyone else could have easily avoided. My feet flew out from under me and I ended up dazed and confused on my back with a skinned knee and the contents of my coat pocket strewn all over the sidewalk.
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I picked myself up, marched into church and took a spot in the first empty pew I found, rubbing my skinned knee and grumbling under my breath how this had better be good!
As soon as I sat down someone slid in beside me.
“You can sit anywhere in church except THIS seat,” Josh said with a grin. “Glad to see you here!” he said with an assuring squeeze on my shoulder.
After the service I let myself breath. The sermon had been good! Lightening didn’t strike me down!
I have learned through trial that I sometimes need to let God take control of the wheel. Last Sunday He had it, although I’m pretty sure He had to wrench the wheel from my white knuckled hands.
I understand that God sometimes takes the long way in order for me to figure out what the point of the journey is.
I found that out later in the day when I was on Facebook. One of my friends from International Falls, who had recently moved to Arizona, posted about how she had attended a new church that day by herself. She included that she was so nervous she considered not going.
Her post inspired me to contact her and share my experience. After a two hour conversation we promised to support and encourage each other as we were both embarking on similar journeys.
Imagine if I had let my excuses win again on Sunday.
That day God took the wheel and drove me to the place that I was most needed and the place I needed to be.