“Lord, call us to your life!” I wrote that phrase in my bible at Ephesians 4:17. Note to self—be careful what you pray for. You’d better be prepared to respond if you get an answer.
For years I’ve been struggling with finding a church to call home. I went back and forth from the Catholic church, tried a Quaker church, a Lutheran church, and one of those mega-mega-non-denominational Christian churches. Nothing clicked.
In early spring my son told me about a Christian church plant that was just getting started in Arlington. A “church plant” is a new church started by an older established church with the intention that the new church eventually will become independent.
The first couple of times I went to the church, we met in the pastor’s house. There were 20 or 30 people at the service. After a few weeks, the church moved worship services to rented space in an art center. Within a couple of months, attendance grew and an additional Sunday service was added.
The worship services were wonderful, but clearly I didn’t fit in. I don’t live in Arlington and the church has a strong focus on building within the Arlington community. I am way older than all the other attendees who are in their 20s and 30s. Many of them are younger than my own children. They are lovely, warm people, with such faith, but they’re so young. I felt awkward because there was no one even close to my age. I heard myself telling friends that it was like being at a UVA frat party with prayer instead of beer. I couldn’t relate to their iPads and their cable televisions, their loud music, their interest in soccer, and their references to current movies. On the surface we have little in common.
But still, I was learning, inspired, and challenged by the preaching of the pastor, a bright, energetic man who is only 30 years old. What could I possibly learn from a man so young? Apparently I can learn a lot. I kept going. I found that I was looking forward to Sunday mornings. I felt joyful at the prospect of going to church and over time I got to know some of the members. Occasionally it has been a challenge for me to accept some of the church’s teachings (for example, that salvation is only for those who profess to be Christians). I have decided not to worry about that—salvation is not my decision. I’ll just let God sort it out.
A couple of months ago, there was an announcement about an 8-week Gospel class. I signed up and I went every week. In the class I became convinced that what I had been missing in my former failed church encounters was a sense of community. The pastor stressed the importance of a commitment between the church and the members—members live their love of God through involvement in church life and the church leaders commit to the care and spiritual growth of members. It’s a family centered around God.
So now I’ve been struggling with the decision of whether or not to join this church. I’m afraid of the commitment, afraid that I’ll never fit in, afraid that I’ll be the old Catholic grandmother hanging out with a bunch of Evangelical Christian kids. Truthfully, struggle is much too strong a word. I’m not struggling at all. I know it’s where I want to be. God must have pushed me there, kept me going despite my protestations. I’ve completed my membership application and now I’m praying that they will accept me.
Thank you, Lord, for calling me to your life.