Wednesday, December 13, 2017
As I write this, it is a cold and rainy December day not unlike a day nearly 10 years ago. I was going through one of the hardest seasons of my life. My husband had left our marriage, and my daughter and I felt very lost in the world. We had been out of church fellowship for a number of years. My family lived several states away, so even though we had a few Christian friends, we were essentially alone. Scared and alone.
At the advice of a friend, I began reading some guy named Charles Spurgeon who I had heard of back in college. I was reading as much of the Bible as I could because it was my only source of hope. However, his writings awakened a hunger for sound teaching that I never had before. I read everything I could find online by this dead Baptist preacher, but I knew that wasn't enough. We needed to find a church, so we began visiting places in the area.
Some churches were too large. Some didn't use the Bible much at all. I was beginning to get desperate and resigned myself to attending a church our friends had returned to. Out of that desperation, I did an Internet search on "Reformed Baptist" churches in the area because Spurgeon was a Reformed Baptist, even though I didn't really know what that meant at the time. But if it was good enough for Spurgeon, it was good enough for me. I was surprised to have one entry show up in Google that was very close to our home.
So on the last Sunday of 2007, I drove the short distance to a little gray church I had driven by so many times. My daughter was away on visitation, so I braved going on my own. There were only about 20 people that dreary day, but they were so kind and welcoming. I didn't feel the awkwardness that would sometimes come over me when I visited other places solo. The interim pastor gave a simple message straight from the Word, and I heard exegesis for perhaps the first time in my life. I told my daughter we needed to go back the following Sunday, and she loved it as much as I did. Even though I was in all respects a stranger, it was like coming home because these brothers and sisters were family in Christ, and here we are 10 years later.
Some things have changed over the past decade. The Lord has led people out and brought more people in including lots and lots of children! The interim pastor who preached the first real sermon I ever heard and baptized my daughter is now in heaven with several dear saints who have gone ahead of us. The visiting preacher who filled the pulpit that baptism Sunday was called to be our pastor a few months later, and he is still faithfully shepherding us today. We're a group of ordinary people who need the ordinary means of grace as we journey, often stumbling on the pilgrim road. But our bond in Christ has kept us as we pray, weep, rejoice, and continue to grow together.
One verse I clung to during that tough time was "A father of the fatherless and a judge for the widows, is God in His holy habitation," (Ps. 68:5) but the Psalm doesn't stop there. It continues with "God makes a home for the lonely." He has done that through this small local church for which I thank Him.
Photo credit:By LudwigSebastianMicheler (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons