I haven’t written extensively about it here, but over the last ten weeks or so, I have been laid up with pain from a pinched nerve in my back. For the last two-and-a-half months, I have been virtually bed-ridden. I have missed church, missed work, missed birthdays, and missed normal day-to-day interaction outside of my immediate family. Through it all, God has proven himself gracious, sufficient and always in control. That, however, is a post for another day.
This is not a post about the pain or the missed time, this is a post about going back. You see, Sunday was my first real day back at church teaching God’s kids. Of all the things I missed while I was laid up, teaching children’s ministry and running games in AWANA were at the top of my list, and I couldn’t wait to get back to doing both. More than even that though, I was looking forward just to getting back into active community with those I minister alongside and those who are part of my local church.
But, something happened this weekend that really struck me. I attend a fairly large church (around 2,000 people), and I was absolutely taken aback by the number of people who approached me to ask how I was doing and see if I was feeling better. What astounded me even more than that was the number of them that I didn’t even really know personally. Even more astounding yet were the number of kids (from Kindergarten through Fifth grade) who came up to me to tell me that they had missed me and that they were glad I was back. Many even asked how my back was doing. It really was heart warming for me to see and feel how God’s community works and cares for one another.
As I got past the initial shock and began to reflect on it more and more on Sunday afternoon, I realized that there were two possible reactions to the reception I had gotten at church the morning. The first represents more of my natural bent, and that would be to react with a certain amount of pride. Let’s face it – it is nice to be missed. These people missed me, which means I must be important. The teaching must not have been quite as good while I was gone. Something must have just seemed like it was missing. Obviously, these people recognized how important I was and how empty church was without me here! Yes, one possible reaction to such a warm welcome is one of pride. What a horrible affront to God such pride is. Of course, I’ve overstated the prideful reaction a little bit, we might not think quite these thoughts, but when we start to think things like “its nice to be missed,” we open ourselves up to pride.
The second possible reaction is one of humility, and this is the one I couldn’t help but be overwhelmed with yesterday as people continued to express their concern and well-wishes. Who am I that God would surround me with people who show a genuine interest in me? Who am I that God would allow me to teach and impact his kids on a weekly basis? Who am I that people would use there personal time with God to pray for me? Through every trial, and every blessing, and every day, I stand amazed and humbled at the work on God. I am glad to be back. I am glad that my back is getting better day by day. Most of all thought, I am glad to be part of God’s family, and there is nothing I have done to deserve that honor.
To all those who have prayed for me, and those who have wished me well, and those who have filled in and taken up the slack while I have been out of commission, I thank you, and I am glad to call you brother and sister!