This afternoon and early this evening, my family and I had a chance to gather together with our church family for a hayride. It was a beautiful, sunny, windy afternoon and just the right kind of fall weather for such an activity.
While it was a purely social activity, I couldn’t help come away feeling blessed by being together with people who love God and, because they do, love to encourage others. It has been a hard week at my house and there was some consideration given to not going at all. After all, the reasoning went, we could use the rest and time together as a family. This kind of thinking is not unusual, I think, in circles among Christians. There is a real danger, I think, of almost worshiping the immediate family and turning it into some kind of idol.
Now, there can also be a danger of being over-committed to the point where you run yourself ragged. But, for people who are struggling each day with sin — and the Bible says we are to fight the good fight of faith — why is it that we intentionally cut ourselves off from people who are battling along side of us? I mean, to me it seems that the first things that people cut out of their schedules for the sake of simplifying them are church activities, and that’s sad.
For example, I see families that will sign children up for numerous sports and extra-curricular activities and then make it a point of attending all events but back out on church events like picnics, banquets and the like that offer low stress and the very real possibility of great encouragement. It’s not an accident, I think, but rather the devil’s concerted efforts to isolate, distract and ultimately discourage God’s people in order to combat a tool that God uses to sustain His people.
This evening, as the afternoon spilled into the evening, I could feel the stresses of my week melt away as I looked into the faces of people I worship with each week and who struggle just like me. God is good to us. As we rode on the hayrack and talked, we decided to visit a family that wasn’t able to join us and has a sick child at home. It was a beautiful thing to be a part of and an encouragement not only to the family we visited but all of us who went.
Being able to forget my own burdens, look to God for help and then looking to lift up others to God is a treasure that is precious to me. I love the people who are my church family. And I love God for putting me with them for my benefit and His glory.