I am going through the process of finding a local church to call home. This endeavor is an emotional circus. I feel terrible for non-believers who have to enter the church atmosphere. I am a believer and I was intimidated on multiple levels.
I wasn't sure what door to enter, wasn't sure if I was properly dressed, wasn't sure if I could raise my hands in worship, wasn't sure how to take communion.
With all these misdirects, I needed to keep my spiritual eyes peeled. I needed to make sure their theology was sound. I was a spiritual investigator who felt overwhelmed by all the factors that define a healthy community.
However, in the midst of my "scoping out the place", I was still able to feel the presence of God. During the morning service, I was told that another church was holding services in the same building later that evening. Since I was "church shopping" I figured this was a great opportunity- two birds with one stone.
I went home and rested. As evening came, I doubted if I even wanted to go through the process again. I would only feel misplaced. Do I really want to be exposed to more traditions that are unfamiliar to me? Well, I went anyway.
It was a smaller crowd. I weaseled into the room and shyly sat down. I knew a few people, and we had a friendly conversation. The service began. During worship, a woman painted on a canvas. They had a prophetic art ministry. What does she paint? Palm trees!
For those of you who don't know- palm trees are the most intimate symbol of God's love toward me. They are spoken of in Songs of Solomon, and my name means palm tree. Palm Sunday is my favorite holiday.
As I watch this lady paint these palm trees, I am turning red. Blushing! I am trying to hide my face because I am madly in love with Jesus and I am afraid everyone in the room will think I am bizarre. When you are struck by love, you react. However, I am sitting in a room of strangers. I am moved by the Spirit of love and can barely contain my affection. I want to weep and laugh. However, I must recoil into a ball and hope no one can scoff at my love sickness. They don't know me yet, so they can't share in my joy.
Soon after service, I bust out the door and look into the night sky. I look at the billions of stars. I place my hand over my mouth because I am overcome with the love of God. How intense and how focused it is. I know everyone experiences His love. I know the body of Christ is ONE, and we all share the same Spirit. I know I am connected to these strangers in a profound and supernatural way that I can't grasp yet.
I will return next Sunday, and they will learn that I love Jesus. They will learn that I am filled with the same Holy Spirit. They will find out about my struggles, and I will minister to their wounds. They will learn that I blush when I see a palm tree. They may roll their eyes at such a confession, but they will be forced to accept it anyway.