woman sitting in a church pew praying

Thankful for the Almost Missed Blessings

Early this Sunday morning, I awoke to a chilly, rainy, late-October, fall day.

I sleepily stumbled through my house, without the guidance of the typical morning sunshine.

My youngest, who apparently stayed up later than me, claimed he was too tired to get up. He didn’t think he could make it to church.

My oldest was still nestled snug in his bed, without even a good morning to muster.

I felt the struggle myself. The pull toward the warmth of my bed. The tranquility of a few extra hours of sleep.

We can always watch the sermon online, as I’m drinking a warm cup of coffee, from the solitude of my living room, and the comfort of my unrestricted nighttime attire, I humbly justified to myself.

But something propelled me forward.

Gave me strength to fight the battle of discomfort and urged me to get started with the morning routine.

An hour later, the three of us were in the car, heading to our familiar church, in the rainy, chilly, leaf-drenched half-light of this early Sunday morning.

As we walked into the building, my boys trailing behind, I overheard them get into a typical brotherly scuffle.

Something about stealing air pods due to being punched in the arm. I tried to intervene, but to no avail. They were both stuck in the zone of anger and dissension and the more I tried to infringe, the less they appeared to care.

At that point, I embarrassingly took the air pods, along with an iPhone belonging to my oldest, stuffed them in my too-small purse, and uttered a veiled threat a little louder than intended, as we walked into the softly-singing sanctuary.

I was nearly shaking with indignation and simply stood, feeling the weight of the world, on these weary momma shoulders.

The sound of others’ praising surrounding me started to infiltrate into my spirit, allowing for the tension to softly drain from my body.

I began to feel the peace surrounding me, as an atmosphere of worship, praise, and adoration flowed beautifully throughout the large auditorium in which I stood.

The minister, who isn’t our typical minister, was filling in today.

He started off with a theme of sports attire, removing a piece, layer by layer, hitting home a lesson of how vast and differing are the choices, lifestyles, and feelings, making up the collective body of the church.

It was a fun and powerful way to prove a well-known point. Until that point started to grow more personal in nature…

You see, at first, the diversity of sports attire was all in good fun.

But then the level of love toward others within our midst quickly turned to more serious matters, when he discussed the diversity of lifestyle, political affiliation, and how the person sitting right next to you could very well be more capable of infusing deeply rooted pain than the stranger sitting on the opposite end of the auditorium, likely wearing a different colored sports jersey.

It is much easier to live in peace with a stranger supporting the opposing sports team than it is to live with a person whose betrayal is currently holding us hostage to the life of happiness and peace we assumed would one day be ours.

The preacher spoke about “bearing with one another,” even when you seemingly have nothing left to fight for and it feels justified to walk away.

He painted a picture of forgiveness, even when it is not sought.

Perhaps more importantly, when it is not sought.

He talked about how the line of justice between God and humanity is perfect. He patiently waits for those stubborn children to turn from their stubborn ways, long past the level of perceived justice we mere humans indict toward each other, and ourselves.

Human justice is based on emotions, feelings, vindication, and secretly hoping another will suffer to the level in which they have caused our own painful suffering.

God’s justice, however, is not driven by human emotion and a pride-filled record of wrongs. It is based on patience, persistence, a river of gently flowing grace, and a bottomless ocean of never-ending love.

“Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.”

Colossians 3:13 NIV

Humans often live in a gear of neutrality, dismissing the pain, disengaging from relationship, simply ignoring the call to forgive, reconcile, and be at peace with one another.

God is not neutral. He desires relationship with us. He longs for salvation for every last soul in His divine creation. He gives people better than what they deserve. And He expects His own children to obediently follow suit.

This was a hard-hitting, straight-to-the-heart message I needed to hear, on this rainy, chilly, would-have-been-more-comfortable-to-stay-in-bed sort of day.

I am so grateful I didn’t!

I would have missed the blessing of a sermon seemingly written just for me.

Sometimes it is hard to get up, get moving, do what you know you should.

And sometimes, you get a slight push to do it anyway. And you feel the blessings abound.

As if God was sitting right next to you in that large, open, dark sanctuary. Holding your hand and gently speaking straight to your heart.

Very seldom do I feel a message pointed directly my way. There is typically enough generality than I can avoid feeling personally attacked by a message. Not today!

Today I received some very specific answers for which I have diligently prayed. Answers I might have already known. But pushed them to the back, prideful, injured, self-righteous part of my brain.

I almost missed it….

The blessing of truth my Lord gifted me early this Sunday morning.

It makes me wonder how many other daily blessings I miss due to being distracted, weary, focusing on hurts rather than helping others, or just simply not spending enough time in relationship with the ONE who knows and loves me best.

He knows what I need.

He is faithful to provide when I am obedient enough to ask.

And then, to humbly and expectantly listen to that “still, small voice.”

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