It was a Sunday morning a few years back. I had a headache. I really didn't feel like going to church that day. I thought of all the reasons it would have been nicer and more convenient to just stay home. I pressed through, got there, but not with a very "worshipful" attitude. Walked in late and took a seat towards the back. Took a deep breath, headache better, but heart far away. Distant.
I heard a sound to my right, and then again, and again. It was constant, steady, and seemed like a gushing air sound, like a pump or a machine. I tried hard to look straight ahead, but finally stole a quick glance to my right. It was coming from a backpack next to a teenage boy.
Realization swept over me, as I suddenly felt very trivial in my complaining about a simple headache that morning. I realized what was in the backpack that sat a few seats away. It was a lifeline. An artificial heart pumping life into this dear young man, who sat with his family in church that day. I'd heard about his story through neighborhood news, this boy who waited for a heart. We had prayed for them, though never met.
The rest of the service I fought back tears. So touched by the fact that they were there, in worship, when really, they had a million reasons to just stay home. God moved in my heart through the pumping of that artificial heart sitting there so close to me. Every breath of life it gave, every gush of sound, His whisper came, "I love you. I'm with you. You are never alone."
The truth is, His heart does beat for us. Every moment of every day, yet often we can't hear it. We've tuned it out and tuned into other things. We're too busy, too distracted, too restless, with hearts far away.
So often we get to thinking about what church can do for us. Whether we like the worship style, or the preacher, or whether enough people go there that we even know. And maybe even unintentionally, we focus on what we'll get out of it on any particular Sunday, or whether it's really worth going or not.
But we forget, like I had that day, that often being there is an act of worship. Just showing up sometimes may seem tough, but if we can press through, our presence there might directly encourage another hurting soul. Breathing life their way. Reminding them that God sees. And cares.
I'm thankful this precious family showed up that day. They made a difference in my life.
Another Sunday will be coming around soon. And we need Him. We need each other, like Jesus with skin on. No matter how broken and bruised we might be, we need to just show up and remind one another that we're in this life thing together. That we’re never alone.
We need the freshness of His Spirit to breathe life into our weary, hurried souls.
Don't ever think your presence in worship doesn't matter. God sees you. He knows your path. He understands when it feels hard to even get there. And He loves you, unconditionally. He promises every day to give strength to the weary, life to the needy, and healing to the broken.
That’s grace. Huge, wonderful, life-breathing grace.
Grateful. For the body of Christ. And for the One who sets us free.
5 Reminders that He is with us:
"Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light." Matt. 11:28-30
“He gives strength to the weary, and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.” Is. 40:29-31
"The LORD your God is in your midst, A victorious warrior. He will exult over you with joy, He will be quiet in His love, He will rejoice over you with shouts of joy." Zeph. 3:17
“For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.” Matt. 18:20
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.” Rev. 4:11
Debbie McDaniel is a writer, pastor's wife, mom to three amazing kids (and a lot of pets). Join her each morning on Fresh Day Ahead's facebook page, https://www.facebook.com/DebbieWebbMcDaniel, for daily encouragement in living strong, free, hope-filled lives.
Find her also at http://twitter.com/debbmcdaniel.