Saturday, April 11, 2015

I just can't always see it from here

One of my brothers commented last week about a powerful worship service that he had just attended.  "You know, everything stood in the way of us going," he said.  "It would have been much easier to have skipped it. It took a lot to get us there.  But I am so glad we went."

And then he mused, "It always seems like the times it is hardest to go that it is the most significant."

It may not be about a great message or the fellowship of believers.  But it is about what God does in our hearts.  Worshiping God always changes us.

Even when we are not aware of it.

Nearly twenty years ago, I flew to Chicago to attend a close friend's wedding.  I spent the night at my parents' house nearby.  The next morning, I thought about just hanging out with mom and dad, which would have been the most convenient thing to do.  But they were still asleep when I realized that I could still make the early church service.  I didn't really want to go by myself, but the pocket of time was there, and every justification of convenience and comfort was obviously only a cover for complacency.  I grabbed my mom's car keys and headed out.

Because I was a few minutes late, parking was difficult.  By the time I entered the church, the pews were full, and the service had already started.  I found a single seat in one of the back rows of the balcony.

A special speaker replaced the regular pastor that morning.  Because I forgot to pick up a church bulletin, I had no idea who he was.  But within minutes of his reading Luke 14. 25-33, the parable about counting the cost, I scrambled to take notes.  Without a bulletin, I jotted down notes in the margins of my Bible surrounding the passage. And I swam in the words of Jesus, calling us to a life of simplicity, contentment and generosity.  What are my inner attachments?

At the end of the service, I saw a discarded bulletin and realized that I had just heard John Stott, a renowned British theologian, pastor and teacher.  His quiet servant heart profoundly impacted me that morning.

As I drove back to have coffee with my folks, I was so glad I went.  Oh, what I would have missed, I thought.

The notes are still marked in my Bible:   "John Stott 2/18/1996."

Little did I realize when I was in such a completely different season of life, that the notes from that worship service nearly twenty years later would still have a fresh impact on my heart.  I read that Scripture passage this morning.  I absorbed those scribbled notes still in the margin.

Oh, what I would have missed.

Worshiping God
and dwelling in His Word
       changes me
and impacts everyone around me.

It matters.  It matters a lot.

I just can't always
                see it from here.

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