I talked to people. A teacher led us through a study and discussion of Mark 12. I prayed with three other men. I went home.
As I left, I realized I felt spiritually nourished and refreshed.
But I go to church all the time. Because I’m a Christian, and because I’m a pastor, and because I live under religious freedom. And I confess I take it for granted. Talking to Christians, studying the Bible together, and praying for one another is not only normal, it’s routine. And sometimes it feels like a routine.
What made the difference last night? I think it was the fact that I have been away from my church family for about three weeks. I just returned from a ministry trip consisting of long travel days, preaching numerous times, and encouraging others in their ministries. I gave out more than I took in. I came home physically exhausted and spiritually spent. I was hungry for fellowship. I had wonderful times with Christians and people in ministry during the past few weeks. I was refreshed by being with them. But I missed my people. My church. Last night was like coming home and having a meal with my family.
Have you ever sat down to a meal and realized as you began to eat that you were really hungry? That’s what last night felt like. I didn’t realize how hungry I was for fellowship until I tasted it.
What I experienced last night renewed my appreciation for what I often take for granted. I love the people in my church, and I missed them. I need them, and I need the strength I draw from being with them. Yes, even the pastor needs this.
It also reminded me that Christians grow weary and hungry. The times we gather to praise the Savior, learn from the Word, and pray for one another provide much needed nourishment and refreshment. It can become routine, and we can take it for granted. Extended travel or periods of sickness may interrupt our fellowship. Hopefully our times away heighten our appreciation for being with fellow Christ-followers. And as a pastor, I have the opportunity to facilitate and provide these times of spiritual renewal for our people week by week.
I’m really glad I went to church last night. I think I’ll go again Sunday :). In fact, I’m looking forward to it.