“Come As you Are”

God set me up last weekend. No other way to put it. God set me up, spoke to me, inspired me and affirmed His message to me. Now here we are. I’m handing it off to you.

This is “How it works”…..…..

Last Saturday afternoon I made a quick trip to Tuscaloosa to see my family. The only concrete plan I had was to attend church Sunday morning. Everything else was negotiable as far as I was concerned.

Attending church was “concrete” because I decided on January 1st not to miss Sunday service for the entirety of 2017. Better yet I made the decision to “arrive expectantly” each week, for 53 Sundays. With God’s help, I’m 29 for 29.

About an hour out of Tuscaloosa I get a mental picture of my church clothes hanging by the front door.  Right where I left them. (God set me up)

My travel wardrobe consisted of shorts, t-shirts, tennis shoes and some hair gel, although I did have my dress shoes. What to do?

I contemplated buying pants, belt and a collared shirt somewhere that evening or early Sunday morning. After pondering a while, God told me not to worry about it. Just show up, expectantly. So, I did. (God spoke to me)  

If there had been an award for most casually dressed  Sunday morning I was a ringer. Wasn’t even a close second. I apologized to Marc Burnette, Rector of Canterbury Episcopal Church, and relayed my reason for dressing so casual.  He simply smiled and said he was glad I was there. So was I.

Driving back to Mobile Monday, I decided to write a story about the casual clothes experience. The title came to me clear as a bell, “Come As You Are” (God inspired me).

I was certain about the title, that part was a done deal.  The story would come together later like they always do.

Stay with me, it’s about to get really good……

Back in Mobile on Monday morning, I sat down at my table to read my Guidepost daily devotional. After finishing the Monday devotional, I glanced over at the devotional for Sunday, which I had not read because I left my book at home.

The Sunday devotional was about a man dressed in sweat pants and a t-shirt on his way to buy gas for his generator on a Sunday morning. The power had been knocked out all over town by severe morning storms. As he drove past his church the words “Come As You Are” were spray painted on a piece of plywood and propped up against the front door. (God affirmed His message)

I can’t just make this stuff up! Seeing those words made my legs twitchy, the back of my neck tingle and my teeth itch! To quote RJ Tanner, “Lightning in my BONES”!

So, dressed in what he had on, the man decided to try and sneak in a back pew. To his surprise the church was packed with parishioners dressed just as casually as he was dressed. All came as they were and all received a blessing for being there.

The message of the Sunday devotional was that our life doesn’t have to be in order and we don’t have to be dressed up to come before the Lord.

The story I had planned to write dealt with the blessing I received when I decided to attend church in “improper” clothing. There is a much bigger story here though.

Clothes are a trivial thing. Souls are not…….

Looking back, I can recall a time in my life where I felt so far from God that I was literally ashamed to walk through the church doors regardless of how I was dressed. I felt that God would look at me and say, “what are you doing here”. I honestly felt that way.

I felt that no matter how proper my attire was He would see through that to the person I was, how I had rejected and abandoned Him for so many years. I didn’t feel worthy to sneak in and sit on the back row in a suit and tie.

Yet, there I was in Tuscaloosa last Sunday. Wearing shorts and tennis shoes. Sitting confident and happy in the front of an Episcopal church. Surrounded by strangers. Worshiping a gracious God that rejoices, just as I do, that I have returned home.

I don’t know where you are in your spiritual life right now but know this. Whether you are the person I just described that fell off the path or if you have never set foot in a church before. It does not matter!

It does not matter what you are wearing on the outside. It does not matter what you look like on the inside. You don’t have to clean yourself up before walking through the church doors or simply coming before God in your living room in the middle of the night and asking for help.

Additionally, if you have been thinking that you can’t “do life” alone anymore then that is the first step to better days. Embrace that feeling. Give God a chance to work in your life. Just, “Come As You Are”. He will do the rest.

All my life I knew who God was. Today, I know Him personally and THAT has made all the difference in my life.

Get in the boat. Do your part.

Shane / #16


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