God Searches for Us – Part 2: A Friendly Church
Second in a series . Read Part One.
We moved to the metro Denver area in 1981, thinking we were setting out on a life of new adventures, excitement and riches. Instead, we found God. Or, I should say, He found us.
Because of the area’s oil industry-related economic boom, my wife and I both found jobs in two weeks. While that pleased us, we also quickly discovered how much we missed our friends.
Soon after our arrival, we went to a concert featuring legendary guitarist B.B. King. It was a great show, the kind we had moved to be able to see. Yet as I looked around the packed arena, I thought, “Other than my wife, I don’t know a soul here.”
It felt lonely.
A Friendly Place
Because of some things going on in our home, we considered visiting a church after we had gotten settled a bit.
As we were driving home one Saturday night, we noticed one church that had its service hours posted above the front door: Sunday school at 9:30 a.m., worship at 10:45.
We decided to go the next day.
One reason we chose to visit was it was a small church. We had had a rather unpleasant experience at a large church—one rooted primarily in my snap judgments and ignorance—back home, so we thought we’d try a smaller one.
My stepson wouldn’t come with us, but our first Sunday, his mother and I were blown away by the friendliness of the people.
That included the pastor asking visitors to stay seated while others came around to greet us. It was our first exposure to such hospitality.
Excited About Faith
But it wasn’t just the friendliness of the people that touched me. The pastor was unlike any clergyman we had ever encountered. He was outgoing, friendly and excited about his faith.
One time in a fit of enthusiasm, he said, “We’re going to do some things and if Baptists don’t do them, then we’ll be something else!”
The heart of his messages often touched on love. God’s agape love, the non-judgmental, open, accepting, freeing, forgiving kind of love that characterizes our Creator.
More than once on our periodic visits, I would sit there and think, “I need that because I sure don’t have it.”
I knew something was missing in my life. Yet, like so many people, I insisted that I could handle things. I was bright, intelligent, capable and rational. I didn’t need a crutch to make it through life.
Except I did.
During the six months we visited this church, I had several experiences that can only be described as mystical, spiritual events.
Drawn by the Spirit
John 6:44 says, “No one can come to Me unless the Father who has sent Me draws him” (MEV). That’s what it felt like: being drawn. As I sat there in church, I would sense an invisible presence settling over me, sending chills down my spine.
It was a mixture of peace and confusion. I didn’t understand exactly what was happening, but I liked it. I now recognize it was the Holy Spirit.
Yet as this was going on, a battle raged. Dark forces argued against “getting too radical” with this church stuff. There were plenty of dirty jokes to be swapped, drinks to be consumed, and parties to attend.
“You don’t really want to do this,” said a thought that floated through my head one day.
Except I did.