It was December 2005. My parents came for a Christmas visit and wanted to visit a church. They had become believers two months prior. I hadn’t yet made the decision to surrender my life to a guy named Jesus I barely knew anything about. I was, however, willing to go to church.
As far as I was concerned, I was a Christian. I didn’t need a church to confirm that. Being a Christian meant saying your prayers every night, saying sorry to God when you had a hangover the next day, and praying fervently when a loved one was dying.
I wore a cross necklace everyday, so that meant I was a Christian, too.
We walked into this giant purple castle inside of a theme park. There was loud music playing, kids running around, and people smiling. It seemed cool so far. Then my life was changed forever.
This overweight Indian man came up to me, shook my hand and gave me a hug. First of all, I wasn’t a hugger, so for some strange man to hug me and not walk away with a black eye was only by the grace of God. I know that now. I didn’t then. Something about that day, about that hug, melted a part of my heart I didn’t know I even had.
It turns out the Indian man was the guitar playing worship pastor, rocking out to songs I had never heard before, but knew I wanted to hear again. I knew I was at home that day. I couldn’t get enough. Sunday’s couldn’t get here soon enough.
I looked so forward to waking up and going to church to see smiling faces and hear more about this Jesus dude.
Six months into attending my new church, I realized I didn’t have the first clue about being a Christian. It turned out cussing like a sailor Monday through Saturday, then cleaning up your act on Sunday wasn’t what life was about. The more I learned about Jesus, the more I wanted to know. The more I watched the Worship pastor interact with others and live his life the way he actually claimed to, the more I craved a relationship with Jesus.
One Sunday after church I found myself on my knees in my home office, sobbing my eyes out, telling Jesus I couldn’t do it on my own anymore. I gave my life to him, dried my tears, then did what every other person does after they become a Christian. I blogged about it on Myspace.
Almost eight years later and I still look forward to walking into the castle inside a theme park each Sunday.
I’m honored to serve on the prayer team and volunteer with the high school ministry. I lead a small group and continue to learn more about Jesus everyday, not just one day out of the week.
I desire for others to see in me what I saw in Ted B., the first guitar playing, gray-haired Indian I had ever met. The light of Jesus. I want others to want to know Christ because I’m living out what I claim to believe.
Have you found your castle in the theme park yet? Maybe it’s in a movie theatre. Maybe it’s in a big metal building. Maybe it’s an old church downtown.
Keep seeking and you will find.
What’s been your experience finding a church? What are you looking for in a church?
[Photo: 19secondslow, Creative Commons]