by Sarah Luna
I’m constantly amazed at the beauty of this place.
Today is a gorgeous fall day. The crisp air is just cool enough for a sweater but not enough to turn my fingers blue. I emerged from my apartment at around 10am to go to Agape Bible Church. Google Maps estimated it was about a 25 minute drive.
Oh my goodness. I could not have asked for a most awe-inspiring drive. The road led through miles of farmland. Each field was robed in reds and oranges and yellows, and the sky was magnificently blue. Occasionally I’d have to wind up wooded hills, and the views at the top were breath-taking. Sadly, this is not at all a drive I’d feel safe making in the winter.
The church itself was very welcoming.
The pastor talked about Ephesians 6 (focusing specifically on verse 16) and fighting discouragement. That could not have come at a more appropriate time. One thing that really stood out to me is when he said, “Discouragement will rob the heart of initiative.” Yep. Feelin’ that with my upcoming statistics test. But more importantly, just after 5 weeks, I’m feeling discouraged about ever finding a church home. Really?? Five weeks is all it took??
I think of CS Lewis’ Screwtape Letters.
MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
You mentioned casually in your last letter that the patient has continued to attend one church, and one only, since he was converted, and that he is not wholly pleased with it. May I ask what you are about? Why have I no report on the causes of his fidelity to the parish church? Do you realise that unless it is due to indifference it is a very bad thing? Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that “suits” him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.
Continuing with the sermon, when we’re discouraged:
- we don’t want to read the Word of God
- we stay away from people who encourage us
- we stay away from things that help us
check, check, and check. I’d like to think that numbers 2 and 3 stem from the fact that I’m no longer in the same place as the people who normally encourage me. But I feel like I’m addressing those needs by meeting lots of wonderful people here who are taking over that role.
Addressing the first point though, he mentioned that it was often our own arrogance that prevents us from being open to reading the Word of God. We think we’ve heard it and read it so many times that it loses its ability to minister to us. We think we know it all. The word arrogance intrigued me. That’s the second time this week that I’ve heard it spoken with respect to spiritual life. The first was here. I hadn’t thought about it quite like that before. But looking at myself with brutal honesty…ugh, called out once again.
And finally, the encouragement of God comes through his Word. Simple really.
I mulled over all that during the equally stunning drive back into town. I feel better equipped to handle this week. I’ll probably go back to that church again before winter. I’m hoping and praying that I’ll find a church within walking distance for when it snows. Two lane farm roads + hills + woods + deer + ice and snow = not a safe drive for someone like me.
Next Sunday, I’ll be in NYC with Mom and Gran. The Sunday after, I’ll visit Calvary Chapel of Ithaca.
PS: Thanks, Uncle Jim, for finding this church for me to visit! Somehow, I missed it when I was looking up churches. I wasn’t thinking creatively by looking up churches that didn’t meet in physical churches.