The Church

agriculture-barn-cabin-463734.jpgPhoto by Tobi from Pexels

This week I had a prophetic dream for another person. Prophetic dreams for me have an interactive nature that is absent in my regular dreams. For example, I had coldsores on my mouth in this dream and during the dream I remember thinking, “I have cold sores in real life at the moment too.” In most dreams I am not able to think outside of the dream.

My dream included a very brief visit to my old church. My friend and I visited the church together but we did not hear from God there.

Afterwards (because of the rest of the dream) I was motivated to look up Christian prophetic dream meanings. Meanings are something I’ve never really looked into because most of my prophetic dreams are for myself so I act on them very literally and with absolute conviction. However, a dream for another person is a delicate issue.

So I did a bit of research.

When I got to the bit about the old church, I found this….

Places from the Past = Life seasons. Reflect on the significance of that season.

So I reflected on that old church and this is what I observed …

For me that particular old church was where I was lonely, I pressed into God but felt separate from him, I became an expert on the bible but not a friend of God, I couldn’t call him Daddy there. I felt like I was looking at him through the surface of the water, crystal clear, very real, but a world away. I didn’t feel his presence there. I was anxious and tried to force the relationship, but it was always an effort, I was swimming upstream rather than floating down the current or riding the wave.

church-clouds-cold-1398059What is your experience of church? Have you ever felt away from God even though you were in the house of God?

This reflection motivated me to remember other church experiences throughout my life. Perhaps they will resonate with you, or perhaps not. Let me know in the comments below.

As a young child visiting a church, I was in awe. My memories are a mix of flickering candlelight, stained glass, unearthly organ music, soft velvet, polished brass and unfathomable wood and stone carvings. Church was a sacred place where people dressed and behaved reverently and spoke in hushed tones.

candlePhoto by Zac Frith from Pexels

I remember taking communion with my Nana as a preschooler. My parents didn’t attend church regularly but I remember walking a long distance to my Nana’s church, because she did not drive. By the time we arrived I was always thirsty. If I close my eyes, I can taste the wine, feel the cold silver on my lips, see gnarled hands tipping the communion cup to quench my very real thirst. I feel the velvet cushion under my knees. For some reason, other people didn’t think children should drink from the cup but my Nana didn’t care, she would hold our hands tightly against her fleshy hips, and pull us in close. She’d say, “Jesus wants you to come and that’s all that matters.”

arts-and-crafts-bobbin-buttons-1232131Five years later I remember the liturgical embroidery hung on the walls, and the modern stained glass, at a local church I visited with a friend from primary school. Occasionally  my sister and I would walk ourselves to special services there.  I remember joyful singing by the adults, and children clapping.

“Silver and gold have I none, (clap, clap), but such as I have I give thee,

In the name of Je-ee-us Chri-i-ist, of Naz-a-reth rise up and walk”

When they got to the bit about walking and leaping and praising God, some of the adults lead the kids around the aisles jumping. We sat upstairs, in a balcony seat, looking down on it all.

ancient-architecture-building-753339Photo by Julius Silver from Pexels

It was a colourful place and the people seemed very relaxed, not at all hushed.  I heard bible stories explained, and that Jesus loved all the children. In the basement we made coconut balls with biscuit crumbs, chocolate chips and condensed milk at the girls club.

In high school I visited another happy church, lots of smiley people. However, the feeling that there was an uncrossable divide between us, was hard to shake.  They all seemed to be waiting for me to do something, but I was too frightened to ask what, so I pretended I’d already done it. Whatever it was.

I remember loving the Amy Grant songs we sang, accompanied by a real band. I recall wishing I could call this place home, but knowing deep inside it was just me standing beside my unreachable friend. Just me, gazing intently at an extraordinarily interesting, wooden cross made of two dead branches, and being swept up in the music. Just me, wishing so hard I could be perfect in every way, like my friend, the pastor’s girl.

blue-sky-bright-catholicism-208371

I took a GAP year after high school graduation, in Charles Dickens’ own town of Broadstairs, Kent. The school I lived and worked in was an all girls boarding school with it’s very own smugglers cave and resident ghost. My role was assistant boarding house mistress. One of my duties was to walk the girls to church every Sunday in all weathers.

The preacher had lost three fingers on one hand in the war, all but his pointer and thumb. He wore a custom-made black leather glove, and with much fire and brimstone, pointed through his Sunday Sermons.

He was too much for me. Him, my heartbreak and the ghost, which I saw on waking one morning, at the foot of my bed. It was all too much. If there was a God that allowed that man to preach, allowed my heart to break, and allowed ghosts to roam the school, I didn’t like Him. In fact I didn’t believe in Him at all.

I became an atheist. My visits to churches after that were reduced to weddings and funerals and touring European architectural landmarks.

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Years later when I did eventually “find” God. It wasn’t in a church. God spoke to me in all kinds of ways, through beautiful people, beautiful places and beautiful music and eventually (when I finally read it) through his beautiful words in the bible. He spoke to me through unselfishness, joy, patience and wisdom. He spoke to me through forgiveness and grace.

Then one day, he spoke to me through prayer. I had always thought prayer was people speaking to God in a church, but here was God speaking to me, as I perched on a tiny kindergarten chair, holding hands with a bunch of Christian women, seeking his favour for something we were all about to do.

They, when I think about it, were my first church, those five Christian women whom I worked alongside, all from different churches, different backgrounds. They read the bible with me, prayed with me, shared their personal stories with me. They taught me that church was about fellowship, not architecture. They showed me that although separately none of them was enough, together, with my family and all those who surrounded me with God’s love, they made up the body of Christ and together they lead me, to the one who is enough, Christ himself.

Today I love my church, I have belonged to 5 different churches since that day in the Kindergarten classroom. None of them have been perfect, since they were all full of humans, but I no longer desire to be more like other Christians. I desire to be more like Christ. So a church is somewhere that will enable that, and somewhere I can find Christian fellowship.

Christians are people, just like me. None of us get it right all the time. The trick is not to write God off, the way I did, just because there is an offence, challenges, or things we can’t explain. The trick is to seek God himself, not the perfect church or the perfect people. Once we find God, he will help us find our place in his body, his church. He will help us navigate all the challenges, answer all the questions and shake off all the offences.

Revelation 3:20 says,

Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.

I want to encourage you today, if you have tried church and it wasn’t for you, or you’ve been offended by a human, (perhaps one who tried to speak on God’s behalf?) look for God instead. (Go over their heads! Straight to the top.) Think about the times you’ve heard him knocking. Perhaps it is time to open the door more than a crack, so that you can sit down and sup with Jesus. Ask him all your questions. I have had questions that he’s answered in seconds when I finally asked after years of worry! Try a drink with the Holy Spirit. You’ll be surprised.

Once you invite the person of God in, and begin relating to him, everything else, like church, falls into place. It makes more sense.

Be blessed today,

Lots of love,

L

© Lauren Macdonald. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission, from this blog’s author, is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Lauren Macdonald @ http://godhelpmei.com

 

 

 

 

 

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