Last Wednesday evening I was privileged to speak at the Lake Country congregation in Marble Falls, TX. The invitation was refreshing, and the visit was encouraging because it was the first like it, this summer. There have been no camps, no mission trips, and no summer series (until last Wednesday anyway). In a time of the year when we are usually the busiest, in many respects, life as normal has come to a halt.
Then we drove home pulling into the driveway about 9:30. If you don’t know (because there are those reading this who are not members at University), we live next door to the church building. As we rounded the corner and drove past the church parking lot, I noticed that the lights were on but there were no cars, no people, no activity, no traffic. Just an empty parking lot magnified by the bright lights from above. You see, we have not started meeting again on Wednesday evenings. There are several reasons for the delay and not all of them are pandemic or COVID related.
No matter the reason, that empty, bright parking lot made me sad. I just wished someone had turned the lights off and then I wouldn’t be reminded that I didn’t get to see my local family that night. A sense of disappointment filled my heart on a night that otherwise had been uplifting and encouraging. I don’t know how you feel but I need regular interaction with my church family on a more consistent basis. I need quality and quantity time with those who are closest to me on this earth. I need a chance to ask for their prayers, shake their hands, discuss our struggles, share our victories, and ensure them of my love for them.
The early church continually devoted themselves “to the apostles’ teaching and to fellowship, to the breaking of break and to prayer” (Acts 2:44). And day by day they continued “breaking bread from house to house…with gladness and sincerity of heart” (Acts 2:46). They did not do this in lieu of a general Sunday assembly but in addition to it. Elders for generations have patterned the local church after the example of the early church and provided opportunities and motivations to bring the church together and various times through the week to boost spirits, satisfy needs, and encourage closeness. Wednesday nights have served as a perfect medium to do just that. And now, just for now, it is missing – and I miss it!
“So, what is the point of all of this rambling, Wayne?” someone might ask if they are still reading my momentary, public complaint. Here it is. I am fearful that some of us won’t miss it any longer and bringing us back might be more difficult than we ever imagined. I am fearful that faith has been weakened and commitment has begun to fade. I am scared that numbers will be down when all of this passes and that decrease in number will be indicative of some having been overtaken by apathy and carelessness. I pray that my fears are overblown and that my worries are nothing more than my lack of confidence in that resiliency of our faith collectively and individually.
If I am not wrong and if my fears are rooted in reality, then some are already struggling and teetering. To those I would say, “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful; and let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds.” (Heb. 10:23–24).
May God help us to be faithful and to recognize when our faith needs to be strengthened. Then may God help us to see that need in others.
– Wayne Jones