God has your life – why I’m ok on church vacation

God has your life in His hands all planned out.

It’s crazy. Each step in your life plays into His plan.

That’s the only reason I’m ok with not going to church right now. God’s got it. And I see how He prepared me for it.

When I was growing up, we went to church. That’s just what we did. If it was Sunday, we got up, put on our ‘Sunday clothes’, bolted our cereal, fought over the sunday comics, and were herded into the car so we didn’t exceed our 2.5 minutes of lateness each Sunday.

The only times we didn’t go to church were when we were sick or camping with our family. There was no such thing as staying home on Sunday. And it was good. For me it was the best way to grow up. We had Bible stories and trivia down pat without too much trouble. Our friends went to church and sometimes we got to sit together during the service. Our calenders revolved around Church Camp (in June) and Christmas. Whenever one was done we began the countdown to the next.

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(church camp 2005 with my sister and one of our best friends)

I made it through confirmation and when I learned how to drive, I got myself to church an hour before the rest of my family to help out on the “chorus crew” (we played/led/sang the three contemporary songs at the beginning of the service). I loved it. I loved to play the piano, i loved singing, and I loved doing things for the church.

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(highschool graduation 2008)

Needless to say that when I went to college and managed to keep my education in the same state and a 1/2 hour of home, I kept up all those traditions. I went every Sunday, sang or played the piano in the worship group, and, when I got a car, I sometimes even made it for the Wednesday night church.

I had it down: being a Christian meant being good (ten commandments, proverbs, fruit of the spirit, and memorized new testament style), praying, reading your bible, and going to church. Through some strange turn of events that was by no means the fault of anyone who taught me, but more my own naivety and easy life, I had come to a somewhat shallow understanding of who God was and how he worked in the world. I have no doubt of my salvation of that point in my life, but my own follow-through of my faith wasn’t there yet.

Then I started going to Cru/campus crusade. First, I encountered their weekly meetings that consisted of crazy worship music (drums and electric guitars = crazy, really.) and talking about the Bible in a slightly different way than I was familiar with and challenged my thoughts about topics like community and boy/girl relationships. It was interesting and exciting.

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(some wonderful ladies from my Cru Bible study)

Then, the Bible study small groups started and I was shocked with the depth and thought that these college students put into their beliefs. They struggled through circumstances and really went to God’s word when they had questions. And that really made a difference for me. Just being involved with those people and seeing how they worked through life was eye-opening. The Bible became so much more relevant and I began to see the benefit in prayer.

That semester I began to take charge of my own relationship with God and it set the course for the rest of my time in college.

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(Intervarsity group shot at a retreat)

It continued about the same way, the second year of school I started going to Intervarsity instead of Campus Crusade because it was a smaller group, I knew more people and the personality of the group was more appealing to me. I went on retreats, attended Bible studies, began to set some better habits, and just really dug in to the Bible as it applied to my life personally.

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(digging into the word)

God became my stronghold and my faith really began to hold me up as it should in times that were challenging for me.

The second semester of my junior year (spring 2012) was another growing point. I left the bounds of my known world to study abroad in Santiago, Chile. I requested to be in a Christian home thinking I would immediately be pulled into church attendance and church functions. Instead, I was placed with a wonderful old lady who did not attend any church and I am not sure what she believes. She was under the impression that I was catholic and began telling me of all the churches nearby. Then she somehow decided I was lutheran catholic after i tried to correct her. ( Second language conversations are a little interesting when you’ve only been in country a couple days.) anyway. I was on my own as far as church attendance went.

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(Oasis – the group in Chile)

I emailed the leader of the chilean college ministry type thing that I found out about by looking into a group my friend was working with during his time abroad in Thailand. I asked the leader what their schedule was and what church he would recommend in Santiago. I went to a few of the meetings and attended the church he recommended (only two bus rides or two miles away from my house). It was an adventure. I forged my own path and was required to take initiative in my church attendance and growth. It was up to me whether or not I went to church (i made it pretty often, but not all the time), read my bible, prayed, etc. I learned a lot about just getting out there and doing things whether or not anyone else I knew was there.

And then, I came home. Married to the man of my dreams (literally) and in a whole new situation of my spiritual growth and church life.

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(an excuse to share another wedding picture)

For a while, after I got home, we tried to go to his church on sunday. I would nag and wake my husband up. We’d get there late and leave without talking to people. We were extremely disconnected. Then summer wedding season hit and we made it even less often. In the fall we/I tried to pick up again. But. It wasn’t to be. The preexisting situation with the particular church (which I feel like does not need to be detailed for random readership) became such that we just stopped going to church altogether.

It was strange for me.

For a while I fought it, but trusted my husband’s leadership. So we stayed away. Every now and then we’d go to my home church for some event (such as the babe’s baptism), but for now we just take things easy and spend time together.

Recently I caught myself saying, when asked about what church we go to, that we’re taking a break from church right now (instead of the used to be “we got such and such church, but we haven’t been in a while” response). And it’s true. We are taking a break.

And somehow, by God’s grace, I’m perfectly ok with that.

I’ve been forced to be completely independent in my spiritual growth. But I see that God has prepared me for that through all the little things in my life that I would never have thought to be that significant.

Now, at home instead of church, I am much more wanting to hear my husband’s opinion on things because I’m not being filled with other people’s.

I am forced to think through what I think. I read books, I listen to sermons, I go to a mom-group book/Bible study, I read a good variety of blogs. And I think. Most importantly. I think. About what I think. About what God says.

And I’m piecing together my beliefs. Based on the Bible of course. But instead of just accepting the views of whatever church or pastor or person, I’m have started thinking for myself, questioning popular opinions, searching out information, and hopefully becoming more in tune with God’s heart for this world.

And at the moment, I think that’s important.

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(our little family)

So with that, I want you to know, without a doubt, God has your life. Even when you feel like you are doing less than you should. He uses what you learn to help you to be strong and know that He has prepared you thoroughly, for your now, through it all. It is awesome.

4 thoughts on “God has your life – why I’m ok on church vacation

  1. WOW, so needed to hear this. We have been in exactly the same position church wise, and a few weeks ago finally took the step to leave where we had been going and have been spending time together at home. I know it’s what we need instead of delving into another church without thinking it through, and giving ourselves time in the Lord, but I’ve felt so guilty at the same time as I know well meaning people like my lovely parents will be thinking we’ve totally lost our way and I feel we should just be at any church for the sake of being there to make THEM happy. Thanks for these words to my soul.

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  2. I think a lot of (most?) young people hit a point when they have to decide to take over their faith for themselves. (Or not.) Other people’s stories and experiences of God’s providence in their lives just aren’t as meaningful or memorable as having your own times of wrestling with God and finding Him faithful. I think I’ve told you that my own true grabbing-hold happened during a bad breakup when I was 16. Ironically, it was a time of my life that I’m sure neither my parents nor I wanted me to experience.

    I have had lots of talks with L. lately, encouraging her to choose faith, not anger over the difficult parts of her past. But that’s ultimately between her and God, and is nothing I can do for her, even as much as I want her to find that peace for herself. Parents can only take kids so far, and then it is up to the kids to see for themselves that God really is able, strong enough to hold *their* burdens. Parents just have to stand to the side and pray, trying not to hold their breath since sometimes the process can take a bit of time.

    I love you and I have a great peace about you, and a confidence that God is doing great things in your life!
    Love you!
    Momma

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    1. Oh I know! It’s so true. Everyone is ultimately responsible for themselves. And really the decision you make when you’re however old or young is no different than one made earlier or later (whether it be the first decision to accept Christ or the one that comes later: the realization that they need to make it their own) It’s just the path God takes you on to grow you into who you need to be.
      And I hope you now that I am convinced I had the best bringing up a girl could have thanks to you and dad! This is just something I had to write as a reflection on how God gets you to where you need to be.
      Love you too! I’m sure I’ll have my own breathholding moments of my own eventually. :)

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