A Touch of Blue...

Well, I knew it would happen at some point. I am feeling just a little blue tonight.

For the first time ever, I am searching for a church. I spent the first 43 years of my life in the same church. I met John shortly after leaving that church and he invited me to World Outreach in Murfreesboro, where I've spent the last eight and a half years. So I didn't really have to go on a long search.

WOC felt like home to me from the first time I visited. It was an oasis. I made many friends there, quickly becoming involved and a part of the church family. One of the things I always appreciated about Pastor Allen Jackson's preaching was the balance of grace and obedience. Never did I detect an air of legalism, control or judgment. At no time did I ever hear a sermon suggesting I could earn salvation or eternal life. At the same time, I was continually challenged by every message to live a life of obedience, to glorify God with my choices (big and small) and to resist complacency. God used many people in WOC to minister to me spiritually. And He used me to minister to others, as well. The last eight and a half years have been years of spiritual growth for me. And they have been very happy years.

And now God has brought John and me to West Virginia. I know He has a greater purpose than just blessing John with a Honda dealership. And I am excited about the adventure ahead of us. But tonight I am just a little bit melancholy. I'm thinking about the WOC Easter service at MTSU Sunday. I'm feeling a little sad that we won't be there. I'm missing my friends and my church family. Especially this particular weekend.

Tonight probably wasn't the ideal night for me to do an extensive search, but I've been reading church websites for hours. I don't know where we will go Sunday, let alone where we are going to wind up attending regularly. I'm realizing that I have all kinds of issues to contend with in finding a new church home. I still have some triggers from past baggage. I'm not at all uncomfortable in a lively church. And I believe there should be an emotional response to feeling God's presence. But I feel an internal resistance to anything that attempts to "work up" an emotional response in the congregation.

I'm conservative, but not legalistic. I believe it matters how I live and I believe in God's authority over my life. But I know the importance of an emphasis on God's grace. Trying to live a life of obedience without the understanding and constant reassurance of God's grace will crush me. I come from an extremely legalistic and performance-oriented background. And even though those chains have been broken, I still constantly struggle with performance-based tendencies in my thinking. And I don't want to pick up any baggage I have cast off in recent years. I listened to an online sermon of a church I was considering visiting this Sunday. And I did not disagree with anything the preacher said. But the tone of the message and the emphasis on certain points made me apprehensive. I told John that just listening to that message triggered old "stuff" in me.

I've also noticed that whenever I see a church website put emphasis on reading and teaching exclusively from the King James Bible, a barrier goes up. I don't want to go back into that kind of atmosphere, even if the sweetest person in the world extends the invitation.

And this is not an exhaustive list of my "issues" by any means. Just a few I have contended with today!

At this point in my writing, I'm laughing at myself. I don't feel as blue as I did when I started this post. I know God has a plan. He just hasn't shared all of it with me yet. And it won't be the first time He's done something wonderful by first making me leave my comfort zone!


Elizabeth Courtney said…
Shari, I completely understand everything you are going through! We've been doing the same exact thing for the past 8 months and I hate that we haven't found somewhere we absolutely love. I know that God has called us here (as He has for you in WV), and He will both lead us somewhere to be fed, but it would be GREAT for a booming answer from Him!!

I can't tell you how many times we've gone into a church, only wanting to walk out 20 minutes into service! Way too many triggers, and way too much baggage.

We will be praying you find a church home!
Norma said…
I hear your feelings in your words. I want to say I understand, but I don't think I do. I automatically have a church family where ever I go and sometimes I fit in better than other times.

But I wish you all the best in your searching. I will pray that you find what will be best for you!
Shari said…
Thanks, Liz and Norma! I don't have an attachment to a certain denomination. But I do like the PCA churches. So I looked for one. But found the closest one is an hour away. I was hoping to find a 'larger' church, but the closest church to us is actually everything I'm looking for in beliefs and priorities. It's just very small. We will find our way, I'm sure. But I still wish I could be at WOC this weekend!

Liz, I will pray the same for you!
Anonymous said…
Hope you've found a good church family. I too moved after attending world outreach church probably 15-17 years and have never found a church quite like it- but I'm sure there are many. We shouldn't place our spiritual identity in a church or pastor. Carlton - Little Rock