July 24, 2018
COMING HOME - (The last in a series)
Sadly, at least for me, this will be the last of my Blog Posts that will chronicle the events of my mission trip to El Salvador earlier this summer. It is sad for me, because with each message I have chronicled here concerning that very special time of ministry, I remember the joy I felt there that seems to be absent from worship here. With each writing I have had the blessing of going back to that very special place of Christ’s love in my mind and heart. As I reach back into my memory to those days of languages I did not understand, and poverty I could not dream of, I am refreshed by one huge thing…the LOVE OF GOD I felt in every, hug, smile, and gesture of kindness from the people I came to serve and adore.
At our last church service of this trip I was feeling very weak physically. I had been up most of the night with some kind of stomach disorder. I hadn’t eaten in over 24 hours. I felt like a truck had hit me and then had backed up and run over me a couple more times just for good measure. I was a physical mess, but God gave me the strength to get up and go to church that morning. He surely had a reason for doing so.
As the service progressed I went from bent over observer (due to stomach distress), to a Spirit filled, praising and praying cheerleader for the Lord! I remember saying to myself, “I wish ‘church’ was always like this.” I still do.
At the end of the service everyone in attendance was invited to come forward so that my mission-mates and I could pray for them. As I prayed with each person, I would anoint them with oil and then ask them through an interpreter for what they would like prayer. Most asked for some kind of healing. With poor medical care in the area, many people in the community are in terrible pain from injuries or illness. Yet, I never heard a word of complaint. It was just so refreshing to see faith so real in “believers.” What was the most inspiring thing to me personally, was to see how “real” and “honest” and “free” in our worship my mission-mates and I were.
To see tears, hear open-hearted prayers, and to watch singing, dancing, and true worship from my mission-mates was both heartwarming and heart-breaking. Why “heart-breaking?” Because I knew we would be coming “home” soon and we would all go back to doing “church” as usual; as expected. As I watched in awe at our people celebrating and worshiping God in outward and inward fashion, I silently whispered, “I wish this didn’t have to end.” Then, I heard the Holy Spirit say to me, “Why does it have too?” I replied, “Because we are going home and no one will be willing to be this ‘free’ at home” The Holy Spirit responded with one word, “Pity.” Yes. Yes it is!
Like everyone on this blessed mission trip to El Salvador, I was anxious to come home to the love of my wife and the comforts of home. But I was so terribly sad to leave the great love that I had seen, felt, and experienced for a week in the palm of God’s hand and seen shared in the hearts of the people we had the honor to serve.
May I suggest that we as believers stop being comfortable in our worship and in our churches. It is way past time to be free in our worship, and way past time that we pew warmers stop judging what worship and worshipers should look like. Feel like dancing? Dance. Feel like singing? Sing. Feel like jumping for joy? Jump. One day we will meet the Lord face to face and we will be overcome with joy and we will worship freely and with abandon. I pray that Jesus does not whisper in our ear at that moment, “Why didn’t you worship Me like this all your life?” After we give Him our lame excuses, I hope we don’t hear Him say, “Pity.” My friends, may I challenge you to worship today as if you mean it. It would be a pity if you didn’t. I pray we all will.