After that, I rarely stepped foot inside a church. I worshipped and revered God, but I was careful in getting too close to His people.
Then, I felt the call. God wanted me to go back to church. I resisted it with my whole heart. I could not, simply would not, go back.
In the meantime, I was also struggling with God’s calling on my life. I knew He called me to be a writer, but I was unsure of the direction. The literary arts is not an easy field to enter, as any aspiring author will be quick to admit. The calling was pulling on me, but also frustrating me. I was trying to tap into the publishing market, without a clue. One evening, I finally cried out to God, “What do You want from me? I’m trying, what more do You want? God, I need You to send me a sign. No, I need more than a sign. I want You to send me an angel to tell me what You want me to do.”
That following week I started having car trouble. I had sprung a slow leak in one of the water hoses. Before I left work one evening, I’d filled the water tank, and was just over half way home when the check coolant level warning flashed. I pulled into a station, and discovered that I had put the cap back on crooked. So, I had to stand and wait for it to cool before I could add more water.
In the meantime, a young man who looked to be in his early 20’s pulled in beside me. It was dark, and a good ways from the road, so I marveled at the time how he happened to spot me there. When he got out of his car, he quickly told me he was no mechanic, but would do what he could to help. We began making small talk, waiting for the car to cool. Then, he stopped and looked at me and said he needed to tell me what had happened to him just two weeks before. He said he had accepted Christ as his Savior, and we elapsed into one the most uplifting and enriching conversations I have ever had about God… and His church. The young man spoke of the wonders of God, and how He causes circumstances like my overheated car to force a situation in bringing His people together for “chance” encounters.
I was filled with a sense of awe and inspiration later as we each got in our respective cars to part ways. I never heard his little car crank, but I cranked my own and looked beside me to toss a little parting wave. He wasn’t there, so I glanced in my rearview mirror to make sure I wouldn’t back into him, and he wasn’t there. My heart racing, I scanned the large parking area, even out to the road — he was nowhere to be seen!
I was wowed, I was amazed… then a couple of days later, I was aggravated. I had asked God to send me an angel to tell me what to do! What was the purpose of this encounter, all we did was talk about God… and His church. Oh.
The following Sunday, I found myself in a little country church. It was a different denomination from what I had grown up in, but it was where I felt lead. The music was different, the preaching was different, almost everything was different. I almost didn’t return. But, God led me back, over and over again, until I became a regular. At that small town church, He opened my eyes, and prepared me for His next step, for my calling. (There were many adventures during my season there, as well as in other churches… but those are other stories ;)
I did learn that the way of worship that I knew was not the only right way, it was simply the right way for me. In pure and honest worship, as long as Jesus is the center focus, then praise God that people are praising God. For Him, the religion is not as important as the relationship. And that’s what He really wants, a relationship with us — all of us, regardless of what we call our denomination. And He wants us to have relationships with one another, to work together, to unify the Body of Christ as one. So let us pull together, working in unity, to bring in His bountiful harvest.