Monday, August 26, 2019

Holding Your Head up in Church When Someone Comes Back




Hey! Hi!  I haven’t been here in a while.  Based on my last post maybe you thought I left!  Haha.  I didn’t.   The truth is, my life is crazy.  Did you get a chance to read my About Me page?  That’ll explain some.   Anyway, I’m wrapping this little series up with this post and then I will be writing about some new things.   I hope you’ll stay with me.   

Not long ago I had a chance to talk with some friends at church that had left for a while.  Some things happened, they got hurt and they left.  They tried to fill their need for a church by going to other churches, both near and far away.   While those churches were good and served their people, there was none that made them feel like they were truly home. 

I grew up in the same house that my mom still lives in.   I did not move around much.  My dad was in the military but his duties didn’t require him to relocate as much as some of my friends' families did.  We lived in two places; Germany and Colorado.   We moved into our home when I was seven years old, I went to the same elementary school, same middle school and same high school.  I watched many others move in and out of our middle class, military dominate, neighborhood.   We always stayed.  There were times when I wanted to move, to explore and make new friends.   But it wasn’t in the plans for me.  I lived a very stable, secure life.   I knew without a doubt that dinner was ready by 5:30 p.m. and I better not be late.   I knew that I was going to graduate from the same high school that all of my siblings graduated from.   We were stable.  We had our issues, but we were stable.   Of course, I’ve moved from my parents' house, but not very far.  I married someone who was born and raised in this city.   We raised our kids here.  Some might say I haven’t seen enough or experienced enough to write about the importance of staying in the same place.   But I know there is a stability that comes with having the same home, the same routines, the same faces.   It is for the most part a comfort, if you will.  It’s comforting to go to a familiar place after you’ve been out dealing with the world.    It  goes back to that tree being planted by the water.  That is where it's roots are.  That is where it feeds and grows.  Jeremiah 17:8 KJV  They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.  It does not  fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.  It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.” 

It's the stability, the comfort, that wanderers crave and are looking for.  Such as this couple that I talked to.   They craved a sense of home.  They wanted that stability.   Once you are stable then you are free to grow.   You aren’t worried about where your next meal is coming from or where you are going to lay your head to rest.   You know the routines.  There is comfort in them.  

They told me they wanted to come back but were afraid of how people would react. They didn’t know if they would be accepted.  I thought this was so sad.   Afraid to come back to a house of God, where your church family is.  Afraid of what people are going to say or do.   They knew the part they played in leaving, and they sought forgiveness from God.   They knew they had to come seeking forgiveness from whomever they hurt when they were here before.  Or did they?  A lot of times the things that happen are conceived in our own minds.  We let our thoughts runaway with the accusations of the evil one.  The enemy certainly doesn’t want us to return to a place where we’ll grow in God and do mighty works for Him.   He was the one to convince us to leave in the first place.   They said, "it was with a lot of prayer, we decided to come back."   And much to their relief,  they were greeted with open arms.   Thank God.

So how do we react when people that have left come back again?  How do we hold our own heads up when we see them?   I’ll tell you that the angels in heaven rejoice when even one returns.  Luke 15:10  “likewise, I say to you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents.”  Am I saying they’re sinners?  Good grief, we all are.   And yes, it is a sin to be out of the will of God.   If the angels are rejoicing when people come back to church, so should we!  I have honestly heard someone say “Look who’s here.  I don’t want what they’ve got,”  as they referred to a person who had been away from church for a while.   I have also heard someone else flat out ask a returning family member, “what are you doing here?”   I was so grieved.  Imagine for a moment that you’ve had a fight with your family and left.   Maybe you stayed away too long and it took a lot of courage for you to come back.  To seek forgiveness.  What if when you came back you were turned away? Or met with such comments?   The prodigal son was not turned away by his father.  In fact, just as the angels rejoiced in heaven, the father threw a party for his son.  He was so happy to see him.  

God is bringing people back to him.   To His church.   We will be playing a part in that.   Are we going to belittle, or shame people?  Are we going to reject them and turn them away?   Or are we going to love them and help them make it for God.   When the day comes, are we going to be able to stand before God and say I loved people the way you wanted me to, no matter where they’ve been or what they’ve done?   That is the question we must ask ourselves. 
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