Sunday, May 1, 2011

...and to think I almost gave up on the church.

In 1996, when I was only 22 years old, tragedy so dark and deep shattered my heart into a million unrecognizable pieces. At my darkest hour, I cursed God, doubted his very existence, and at my best during those days, I questioned him - this God that I had always known, that I had put into my own box - suddenly was in question.  And going to church made me feel worse! Forgiveness, mercy, judgement - my heart needed a safe place to heal. And, sadly, I could NOT find that in most traditional churches. They too had put God 'in a box' defined by cliche phrases and lists of rules. I needed to find the real, true God elsewhere. At times, I wanted to give up on church, yet something inside me refused to! I had to keep searching.

Then enter, Woodcrest Chapel (1998) - a church in a 'blue polebarn' that made me skeptical to even enter.  But once inside, I found real people on a real journey who told me that God was big enough for my most difficult questions - I could ask him why - I could search - and guess what, my heart found healing. And I began to understand God's true heart towards me. I began to really understand grace and love and forgiveness.  And not just understand them, but live them, in my everydayness. It was His church that helped me get to this place.

Then three years ago (2008), we had to move, and I mourned that we would never find another church quite like Woodcrest.  We tried a dozen churches when we moved, and finally decided to call North Point Church home. I'd like to say we jumped right in, we've been as actively involved here as we were at Woodcrest. We have not, for many reasons that I will save for other discussions on another day. But it is where we choose to worship each week. It is where we tithe, because we believe that money provides resources to let God meet people on real journeys who are asking real questions. It is where we facilitate a small group in our home every other week because we believe that spiritual journeys are meant to be shared.  It's where our kids hear others reinforce life virtues that we are trying to teach them at home. It's where they look forward to going each week. It's where we laugh every week. And we're reminded of God's truth. of the cross. of the resurrection. of love. and grace. And then I get emails from the church (see below), of people, real people, responding to the message of Easter last week, and I can't help but think - "I'm so glad I never gave up on the church!" Because when the church is is a breath of fresh air to individuals and the community. And when Easter services go from 2,064 people four years ago ('07) to almost 9,854 this year - well, God is breathing life into people and the community through North Point Church! And I'm glad that we are right here. right now.

Here's the email:

  • We met a man who had never stepped foot onto a North Point campus. But he has been watching Pastor Tommy’s messages on TV. He saw Tommy talk about The Point during the Hungry series, so he came and got plugged into a group…having never been to a live weekend service :)
  • Talked to a few couples whose first time at NPC was this past Easter weekend, and they loved it so much that they wanted to jump right in and start getting involved so they came out on Wednesday night [group connection event].
  • Yet another couple, it was their first time in a church…ever…ANY church, this past Easter weekend. They were so excited for the atmosphere & attitudes they experienced that they wanted to get connected with other people.


Heidi @ The Good Stuff Guide said...

Beautiful Cathy. Honest and beautiful.

Our Group said...

I'm glad you are using the talent God gave you. You continue to reach into the inter soul of yourself, wish in turn makes us search ourself. Makes us question what are my views, it helps us to reflect on the positive side of God. You are a blessing to many, I'm very proud of the women you've became.

Cathy said...

Thanks Heidi. Thanks mom. It was a bit harder to hit the 'publish post' button on this one. Yet I knew it was a moment on this journey I wanted to try and capture into words.