*I respect all religions and I honor the choices of others, regardless if they're parallel with mine. This post characterizes my beliefs and is not intended to offend any group and/or method of worship.*
Praise God in a Boat
I have a personal relationship with God. It's imperfect, or rather I am. I sin, I say and think things I shouldn't, and I have been known to overreact and act in ways unbecoming of a Christian. We, as a family, have been consistent attendees of church and then scarce visitors. I've sat in many a room contradictory; rolling my eyes at what is being presented before me, even in the presence of God. I've cried unapologetically through a sermon, overwhelmed by his words presented through mere man, overcome by his obvious presence. I have sat in a room full of Christians in a religious setting and felt nothing remotely close to fellowship or a spiritual presence. I have gathered with friends in an informal event and felt God very near.
My point~God is everywhere if we want him to be and because we are imperfect, he offers forgiveness. He wants us to have a relationship with him and to be in fellowship with others in his presence; to share his word and to feel his love and sacrifice, but in my opinion, he doesn't neccesarily care where or how we do this. It doesn't matter where you do it, but you have to do it. Being a good person is not the only requirement for salvation, just like merely "attending" church isn't the same as investing in God's word and putting it into practice in your everyday life.
I've said many a time, I'd rather be thinking and speaking of God's love and praises in a boat, than thinking of a boat while at church where I should be invested in his word. And I have often felt like my body was present, but my heart and soul were absent. It's like everything else; your "presence" matters more than being physically present.
I'd rather my actions demonstrate my love for Christ than my mouth just professing it; though I believe speaking and living a Christ-filled life is different than merely saying I'm a Christian.
My experiences growing up in church and attending as a young parent and wife were inconsistent. I knew I wanted to be saved and that I wanted my children to know Christ, but I wanted to do it on my own terms. I was blissfully unaware as a child, and stubborn as a young adult.
We had a church home in Fort Wayne, IN where we lived for 11 years as a family. It was wonderful. I felt loved, accepted, and though my attendance and behavior wasn't always consistent, my faith in God was. We sadly lost the leader of our church to the disease that robbed me of my father, but much like my dad, our pastor knew where he was headed and we knew as a congregation that though the battle seemed unfair, his journey had only just begun.
Growing up, we attended a church across the street. Similar to my own parenting mishaps, my parents were inconsistent in attending. I do remember mom getting us dressed on occasion and walking us across to Sunday school.
I remember meals in the fellowship halls...delicious meals.
I remember meals at home after church.
I fondly recollect participating in the "Down by the Creek Bank" performance which involved traveling to perform with other families.
I think fondly of the Ross family closing their IGA on Sunday so church could be the community's priority and Mrs. Ross giving me animal crackers from the deli when we shopped. Her smile was contagious and love beemed from her eyes.
God's love could be felt in her presence, even if I was unaware at the time.
I remember children's choir and singing "Jesus Loves Me" and This Little Light of Mine." We went to Vacation Bible School in the summer and sometimes, we went on picnics with other church families.
So, did I learn a considerable amount about God's word during that time in my life?
Not really, but I did feel his love and presence.
I may not have understood his word precisely, but I did experience fellowship with other Christians. I did know that Jesus Loved Me.
My dad watched religious programming daily on every television in the house. He listened to a traditional religious radio station in his work van. He didn't attend church regularly because he preferred a church that was, I guess, a little more animated than one our family seemed comfortable with. He gave regularly. He donated to local causes in the name of Jesus. By all definitions, he was a good Christian man.
Dad followed some of God's word to a tee, but he struggled with forgiveness. He was imperfect, just like everyone else, but still a loving follower of Christ. I would say he provided a good example to lead and leave for his children, except for the forgiveness part.
He worshipped God from a boat; both literally and metaphorically. He worshipped God from the top of a building. He worshipped God wherever he was. Should he have joined a congregation? Probably. But he was regularly in fellowship with others and he made me aware of the significance. Some of our final conversations involved him telling me that he was uncertain all of us (his family) were saved.
That was my promise to him. He wanted reassurance he would see us again...especially his grandchildren.
I'm trying Dad, I'm trying.
This is how I honor him. I try to lead by example. I apologize for my wrongdoings and ask for forgiveness and trust God to forgive me. I stop and pray immediately when a prayer request is made. I thank God for our health and all of our gifts daily. And I spend zero time apologizing or justifying where or how I choose to praise him.
We've recently found a church we're fond of in Virginia. Why do I like it? Because my sons are engaged. I personally feel something everytime I attend. My husband enjoys the messages.
They put on a big show...they really do! It's big and loud and even a little over the top, but I love it.
Because most people, including myself, spend large quantities of money to idolize someone famous in concert. We go because they pull out all of the big stuff...lights, volume, enthusiasm. Why would I expect any less of a show and reaction for the one person I should be worshipping?
This isn't for everyone, I know. You can worship in a small traditional church. You can worship in your living room. You can worship in an auditorium. Or, you can worship in a boat. As long as you're being true to you and your God, worship and fellowship can be accomplished any way you see fit. My biggest suggestion? Just don't miss the boat!