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Holy Distractions

Written by Jenny Brake on

 

It’s was a typical Sunday morning at church. Honestly, I take a deep breath when I say, that it was typical because there isn’t such a thing as a typical Sunday at church for me. I’m not talking about all the running around that I do on a Sunday because I am on staff (making sure we have enough coffee, enough people greeting at our doors, or enough time to let people into the kitchen, who don’t have a keycard.)

I mean that it was typical in the sense that because my spiritual eyes were open, and my heart was equally open to be used by God that day, I saw Him at work. I cannot express to you enough how much grander and glorious it is when we can see God working. It’s more than just serving on a Sunday by taking the offering, playing an instrument, rocking a fussy baby in the nursery, or opening a door. It is not allowing anything in the day to distract me from hearing God. The hearing comes from the Word of God at the pulpit, and it comes from Holy Spirit urging me in my seat to step out of my comfort zone and love others for His sake. It’s too easy to think about only me and what I need for the morning. It’s about looking for opportunities to be an ambassador for Christ inside our very church doors and being intentional about our words and actions towards others.

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised” (2 Corinthians 5:14-15).

Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God (2 Corinthians 5:20).

You may be asking, “Isn’t all that gospel stuff what we do Monday through Saturday? Sunday is for me! I mean, it’s for all of us believers to be able to worship and hear God’s Word, right?”

Of course, Sunday is for you and me—it is for us! When is there another day of the week when covenant members, whether spiritually healthy or not so spiritually healthy, meet to sing, pray, worship, and hear from God’s Word together what we could not hear and receive alone? Sunday at church is also a special time to see those who you have missed, whether it is your Small Group members, family, or friends. Sunday is a weekly reunion of the heavenly kind. And I love it!

But Sunday can be a distraction for us as well if we don’t set our hearts on Him and aren’t on the lookout for divine interactions with brothers and sisters in Christ, and especially with strangers. If the morning is simply about absorbing and soaking it all in, it can easily dull our senses to what God wants to show us and maybe even how He wants to use us right here at church.

So, back to Sunday morning. The day was bookended by two disruptive medical emergencies. One of our team members needed an ambulance. Distraction for the day? It could have been, but that’s was not what I witnessed. It wasn’t a distraction or interruption for our medically trained members (nurses and doctors) who willingly rushed to the rescue. I witnessed three women huddled and praying near the Welcome Desk, pleading with God to bring back a pulse as the EMTs were administering CPR to this dear saint in distress. It wasn’t a distraction for our volunteer, Bob, who kindheartedly rolled one of our wooden partitions in front of the desk to give the woman some privacy as her chest as being pounded on. Neither was it a distraction for Dody, who didn’t hesitate to accompany her dear friend to the hospital.

There’s more. I finally got the chance to go in to worship myself. It is often crowded by the time I enter the sanctuary and I sometimes sit in the tech booth. But that morning, I located a spot on the back row of the main level. About fifteen minutes later two young women came and sat next to me. I took more notice of them at the end of the service when the gal by me took out her phone and videotaped the end of the service. A distraction? No. I was easily able to focus on worship. She videotaped the last song, where people were encouraged to get out of their seats, go the front, and kneel for confessional prayer. It was an amazing site for me too.

I thought to myself that she was either a secret church shopper or a visitor. I was planning to leave promptly after the service for my rounds in the Atrium, but I sensed God saying, “Jenny, stay and talk to the women beside you.” So instead of turning to the aisle and bopping out the doors, I turned toward the two young women. Distraction? Of course, not. I introduced myself and asked them their names. Marzieh told that she was from Iran and attending IUPUI with her roommate, Gail. Gail had invited her invited to church that day. Marzieh commented how large our church was. I asked her if she had attended a church before. I didn’t want to assume anything, so I flat out asked her if she was a believer. She said, “No.” I then asked her if she were Muslim. She said yes, and looked at me as if she feared I would think she was a terrorist. I reassured that we were all so glad that she came. She smiled.

Marzieh and Gail walked out with me. I invited and escorted them to our guest area where one of our leaders, Janna, was there waiting to engage. Janna’s hubby, Jon, added a Bible to Marzieh’s gift bag. Gail then asked Janna if we could help her with a flat tire. She explained that she and Marzieh were heading to a Bible study for international students that Jason was leading at our church during the third hour. Janna assured her that we would try to get them help and then walked with the girls to the Bible study.

Was fixing a flat tire a distraction? Nope. The situation gave staff member, Moussa, a chance to serve the two young women. It also gave us some extra time in the guest area to chat with Marzieh while the car was being fixed. I collected her information so we could send her some cookies. I told her again how glad we were that she decided to visit, and I invited her to come back.

It was another great Sunday where I saw God at work and watched the saints at our church participate in some holy distractions, all because their eyes were open and their hearts were sensitive to following hard after the One who allows us to live out the gospel in words and actions with Him as He redeems, restores, reconciles, and revives people to Himself.

I am reminded of something that the apostle Paul said as he encouraged the saints at Philippi. I think that our pastors would encourage us with these same words whether we are inside or outside our church doors:

For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure. Do all things without grumbling or disputing, that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast to the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain (Philippians 2:13-16).

Desiring God said this about one of my heroes of the faith, Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“Bonhoeffer petitions every Christian to stop and allow for interruption — to cultivate a disruption theology, as it were. This benefits both the one doing the interrupting, as well as the person being interrupted because it is in those instances God reveals himself in ways we may never have seen or experienced otherwise. God is erecting visible signs of the cross in our path for our benefit to show us that his kingdom is at hand — to invite us in his work.”

I invite you to shine for Him all through the week and especially on Sunday. Don’t be distracted by only thinking about your needs throughout the Sabbath day. Open your eyes and watch for God at work as He lovingly interrupts your day. It’s all so you can join Him where He is working and indeed see Him magnified.

Jenny Brake

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