Leaving My Private Island (“The Ministry of Showing Up” Series)

July 10, 2023

Editor’s Note: In January, Jared M. preached a compelling message entitled “The Ministry of Showing Up.” We’re posting three articles about how people apply that in real life, and we’re sure you’ll be encouraged!

What you may not know about me is that I’m a huge introvert. I may appear outgoing, but I’m at my happiest when I’m at home reading a book or working on a watercolor painting. You will recognize the irony, as I certainly do, that mere months before the shutdown happened in 2020, I began working at a grocery store. I, who was born to quarantine, suddenly became the only one of my family who left the house every day to go to work.

By the time the church reopened, I was a completely burned out and frustrated human. That, coupled with some significant changes in our family before the pandemic, made church unbearable to me. I began looking for excuses not to attend, telling myself that watching the message online was just as good. 

My journaling Bible was filled during this season with prayers of desperation as I struggled between clinging to God and wrestling with him over the path that he had me walking. The worship portion of every service I did attend found me weeping, and truly all I wanted to do was find an island to hide on. 

But God. Those are my favorite words in the world. But God — He held me fast in the season of my greatest despair and trial to date. As the Bible tells us over and over, God remains faithful, good, filled with loving kindness and great mercy. He used the very community that I was trying to hide from as a means of grace in my life. Friends here at Covenant pursued me, encouraging me with the Word. Pastors met with myself and my husband, offering godly perspective and practical help. 

Most recently, God used a message by Jared Mellinger called The Ministry of Showing Up to further speak into my heart the importance of attending church in a physical building. Jared pointed out that when we fail to gather we rob ourselves of encouragement and the opportunity to encourage others. His sermon, preached from Hebrews 10:19-25, pierced the remaining hardness of my heart towards church attendance. 

Several Sundays later, my husband was not feeling well, so he stayed home from church. In mere months past, I would have welcomed the opportunity to stay home…but God. So with Jared’s words ringing fresh in my ears, instead of heading to my longed-for island of solitude, I pointed our car toward church, eager to see what God had in store for that morning.

In the movies, that would be the neatly wrapped up ending. However, real life is not so tidy. Some of the things that make me long to buy my private island are still in play and I still fight my desire to stay home on Sunday mornings. However, Jared’s message planted fresh seeds in my heart, prompting me to prioritize church attendance once again. I will end with a couple lines from the notes I took that morning. ”Gathering on the Lord’s day is a mighty means of grace. When we fail to gather, we rob ourselves of encouragement and rob others of our encouragement.”

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