It has been maybe seven or eight years now since that memorable Sunday morning.
It was a chilling event for me then, and it is still chilling to this day, when I think about it.
I was sitting in St. Paul’s Episcopal church, and I was feeling pretty good about myself, from a spiritual stand point that is.
I had strung together well over a month of consistent morning devotionals, church attendance, peaceful demeanor, you know, all the outward markers of a what a “good Christian” should look, and act, like in this world.
To top it off, not only was I in church, but I was happy to be there!
I was basking in the new and, finally, “consistent” level of Faithfulness I was living in.
Thing is, I had found myself in this place many times before…. for basically my entire adult life.
Each time thinking that “this time” my Faith would stick. This time, I would stay here and not fall off, or BACKLSIDE, as my Baptist brothers might say.
Often I would make it for a couple of weeks, maybe an entire month from time to time, but in the end, I would always fall back to the level of part time Christian. You know, when it was convenient, or life dealt me a blow I was sure only God could fix.
For the sake of clarity, I had always admired the people I knew who were seemingly unwavering in their faith, consistent in their walk with Christ, day in and day out, year in and year out. How do they do that I often asked myself.
I wanted to be that person, I really did, but I just could not stay there like they could. I always drifted back out to sea, but finally…. there I was!
There I was, when out of the blue….
I heard those chilling words I will never forget…. “You know this is temporary”.
I didn’t hear this out loud, but believe me, I heard it with remarkable clarity.
It was like somebody, something, had leaned in and spoken from the pew behind me, and I swear in that moment if I had turned to look the devil himself would have been sitting there staring at me.
I sat there trying to process what had just happened, then after a moment or two, a couple more words hit my mind, also with remarkable clarity, but they were my own words…. “I know”.
Then, just like the times before, within a few weeks, I had spiritually drifted back out to sea.
If nothing else I was consistent, and the enemy seemed to know me just as well, or perhaps better, than I knew myself.
But…. If you know my story, then you know things did eventually change for me, and I found my way back.
A few years after that chilling encounter I came to the end of myself, dedicated my life to Christ and at the age of 48, I was baptized (for the second time) as a Believer and follower of Christ.
Clearly, there are moments that I may not look and act like the “good Christian” I referenced above (I’m human and I’m Shane) but I have stayed in the boat, been consistent in my walk with Christ, and I haven’t missed church on a Sunday in several years.
For me personally, a commitment to corporate worship, church on Sunday, became an important part of the foundation that keeps me connected to God and charged spiritually. It works for me.
And that brings me to a Tuesday afternoon, several weeks into the quarantine’s “no church” mandate….
Across America, church buildings have sat empty day after day, Sunday after Sunday. Something we could not have even imagined only a few weeks prior.
An errand took me by the church that Tuesday and driving by, I noticed the closed doors and empty parking lot, but as I drove back by the church going home…. the front door was open.
So, I stopped and walked in.
It was late in the afternoon and the big empty church sanctuary made for a beautiful, peaceful setting. I stood there for a moment taking it all in, then I took a seat.
I stayed a while, never saw a soul, just soaked up the peaceful silence and pondered life over the prior few weeks.
At some point, as it often does when I am in church, my mind went back to that Sunday morning so many years ago when the enemy spoke those words to me, “you know this is temporary”.
I responded to that memory with the same thought I have responded with for several years now, each time it crosses my mind…. “I’m still here”.
I also pondered how much satisfaction the enemy, satan and his minions, must be basking in when across the nation day after day, evening after evening, Sunday after Sunday…. Church buildings sit empty.
Buildings void of faithful believers, void of part time Christians, void of broken people that have been beaten up by life, that slide in late, sit in the back pew, and try to believe. I have been all three.
Personally, I am looking forward to the Sunday everyone that chooses to do so can show up to worship, continue treading water, or search for hope in Christ.
I have no idea when that day will arrive, I just know that it will.
As I walked down the long isle of that big empty church to leave, I took in the silence, the empty pews, the empty building, and I found the enemy’s taunting words to me from years ago absolutely perfect to sum up my thoughts.
I spoke them out loud as I walked away…. “You know this is temporary”.
Get In The Boat. Do your Part.
From Nose To Toes!
Shane / #16…. The1SixProject.com