Man, oh man, it is going to be so hard to go home for the summer next Sunday. I mean, granted, I'm not leaving until the afternoon so I'll still get to go to church that morning, but that's gonna be my last time worshiping with my church family for close to 4 months. And just writing those words makes me want to cry because this place is my home and so much a part of my heart. Add into that the whole idea of being stuck in my house for that long, and part of me wishes this semester would never end or I could fast forward straight to fall.
This morning was so wonderful. I heard a couple songs that I've never heard before today, but we also sang "Cannons", which is not only a song they performed my first day at Theater Church but also one of my Sanctuary songs. That made me smile.
Pastor Sean's sermon focused on Colossians 1:3-8 (this whole current series is on the book of Colossians) and the four signs of a Jesus follower: a life noticeably changed, constantly changing, immediately changed, and of reproduceable change. It was a sweet time of reflecting on the night I got baptized and what it felt like to have my entire life changed in a split second, and how much change has happened in my life since, and all the sweet friends who have commented on the transformation they've seen in the person that I am. It also greatly convicted me in how I can improve in the "reproduceable change" area. I need to seize every opportunity possible to help teach someone about the Lord that I serve. I want to experience the feeling of knowing that I led someone to Christ, just like The Vespers can say they led me to Christ.
But honestly, the part that hit me the hardest was in verse 5 when Paul talks of the hope that the people of Colossae have and how Paul and Timothy know about it, how it was evidence of their faith and love for Christ and all the saints. It became kind of difficult for me to focus on the rest of the sermon after that because I couldn't get one word out of my head.
I thought about Friday night and telling Jenn through teary eyes that the only way I am able to survive this trial is because of the hope I have in Christ. And then how Saturday came, another day that left me begging God just for the strength to get up and out of bed, and how I forgot that hope. It baffles me how I can feel so sure of what I know to be true one day and so full of questions the next day. That's humans for you, I guess.
So at the end of the message, Sean opened the altar for anyone who wanted to come up and pray, like usual. I knew I needed to get raw and real with God real quick because tears were already on the edge of my eyes, so I went up and started praying. I started asking God to renew my hope, to show Himself to me on the days when I'm wondering where He is in all of this, just pleading with Him to carry this burden for me and get me to let go. I lost knowledge of everything around me as I prayed, save for when I felt someone place a hand on my back and not remove it. I heard whispers as I continued to pray, so I glanced over and saw that person who'd put their hand on my back kneeling in prayer with me. I immediately started thanking God for showing Himself to me so quickly, because as I realized that someone was there praying over me, it felt like a sweet whisper of a message from God. I'm still here. You aren't alone; you are never alone.
That sweet friend who had come to join me in my cry to God was Justin. The song ended, our prayers ended, we both got up, and he immediately gave me a huge hug. Throughout all of that, starting with when I felt him join me in prayer, Matthew 18:19-20 felt more powerful and truer than ever before: "Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them."
I spent so much of my life fighting on my own, feeling like no one had my back, that I fooled myself into thinking I didn't need a community, that I didn't need people by my side to walk with me through life. I'm so glad I was wrong. And what's even more mind-blowing than the fact that I have love this deep in my life is that when I texted Justin later today just to say "I'm so blessed by your friendship. Thank you for being such a dedicated friend," he wrote back "I can say the exact same!" This friend has called me a blessing when I feel like the entirety of our short friendship has been him being there for me. That honestly just makes very little sense to me, but that's the beautiful part. I don't have to understand it; I just have to accept it. And I do, with open arms.
Community like this, a family like this, is absolutely priceless. There is nothing in this world that I would give up or trade for these friends who have been so faithful to me. I said this on Friday on my Facebook status, but I truly pray that everyone could have a family like this because, really, y'all, there is absolutely nothing like it.