We are all different. God created us to be diverse, and we are not to try to make each other copies of ourselves. That said . . . let me tell you why church is my safe place and why I have shed more than a few tears there over the years.
Ever since I was an officer candidate and attended my first chapel service after a grueling week of trying to stay up with my class at a very fast pace, I have understood church to be my safe place. I shed an abundance of tears that first Sunday at Officer Candidate School because church was the first place I was away from my drill instructor and did not have to keep a look of determination on my face!
Over the years since then, church has remained that same safe sanctuary for me. I respect the fact that others will leave during a service if they are crying or may even stay home from the service if they are in bereavement, but I don’t do that. When I am on the verge of a good cry, I find myself needing to be in church. Being in church transports me to God’s presence and lets me weep before Him there.
Obviously, we are a community. The services are not about one individual nor are they about all of us collectively. They are about Jesus. Anything Christ-exalting belongs in church even our grief and our tears, if we are comfortable expressing them there.
When my husband was on a plane bound for England for his Irish-born father’s funeral, Dave Moffatt stood up to sing “Be Thou My Vision” (my favorite Irish hymn), and I just lost it for about ten minutes. The hymn was liquid loveliness and a very real balm to my soul at that moment. It reminded me that Christ was very much still in control even in the midst of grief.
This last week, we sang and played “So Send I You” for a missions emphasis Sunday with a preacher from Papua, Indonesia. I have loved that hymn since childhood. We had not one, but four missionaries present at that service. We also had military personnel who are going out regularly as ambassadors for Christ in other lands . . . and families of those who are currently deployed doing just that.
Pastor explained how John W. Peterson wrote that hymn post World War II referencing “so send I you to hearts made hard by hatred” in relation to the many, many World War II vets who returned, determined to be missionaries in Japan, the Philippines, and other parts of the Pacific Theater where atrocities had occurred during the war.
I knew I was going to have a hard time getting through that hymn. The choir sang it, the orchestra played it for the congregation, then when we had finished, I just lost it again as quietly as I could up front during the offertory.
God has a master plan for the human race. He is in charge of history. He knows how we are made and when we need to bow before Him, even with tears, acknowledging that He is still on the throne!
Jude 22, 23, “And of some have compassion, making a difference: And others save with fear, pulling them out of the fire; hating even the garment spotted by the flesh.”