One Fall at my church, a Life Group which eventually changed my life began. The first evening, a dozen singles got together in what would be my future fiancee’s living room. The church didn’t have a singles ministry, so one was started from scratch.
The recruiting process was simple: Each Sunday morning, the leaders from the group would literally pounce on people in the foyer of the church if they had the slightest look of being single, and if in fact they were, they invited said unsuspecting singles to come to Bible study. Social profiling at its best! So a group of strangers got together that first Tuesday night, and by the end of the semester, a strong band of friends had emerged.
Well, that’s how the story has been told to me anyway — you see, I didn’t show up until the next semester.
What was I doing when the group started months earlier?
I was praying for God to bring me Christian community–that He would breathe some life into my social life and lead me to people who were seeking and pursuing God and would encourage me to do the same.
I was a serial church-hopper in my 20s, so I made an inner vow a couple years earlier that I would choose a local church and stay there. And stay there I did. I made the most of it. I tried the singles group out at this church a few times, but I never really found my groove there. I volunteered every other Sunday morning, and I met some really great people in the process. Despite all this, I never really felt it was the right place even though I had been there for 2 years. However, every time the thought of changing churches popped into my head, I immediately took it captive.
“Ryan, you will not go back to being a church-hopper,” I said to myself. “Hang in there. Keep serving. Stay put.”
And then one Sunday, I was walking back to my car after church, minding my own business and thinking about lunch, the Holy Spirit spoke to me in the clearest way: “Ryan, it’s okay to leave.”
Immediately, I knew He was talking about my current church situation. I was shocked He was asking me to change churches. As days passed, I let this word from the Holy Spirit pass too. I simply tried to forget about it. I decided the Lord would be more honored if I stuck it out in my current situation.
The next month I traveled a lot and missed about 4 weeks of church, so it was a while before I got back into my routine. I diligently kept going to the same church and diligently buried the word from the Holy Spirit that I had clearly heard. I eventually became uncomfortable going to church. As weird as that might sound, the last 2 times I made it to church that year, I literally could not walk in. I would walk toward the sanctuary doors, turn, and then walk straight back to my car. It was like there was an invisible force shield around the room. It was tangible.
I finally decided, after 4 months of disobedience, that I would go to a different church in the New Year. I knew which church the Holy Spirit was drawing me to, so the first Sunday in January that I was in town, I walked into the foyer of that church. Of course, I was profiled as being single and was pounced on right away. They immediately invited me to the Tuesday night singles group that had been going on for a few months, and two days later I went. I walked into the living room of the co-leader’s town home, and I was greeted by my future wife.
The Holy Spirit speaks to us for our good, and He is patient. He gave me the opportunity to be a part of this group from its inception, but I didn’t obey. I missed the first 4 months with this fantastic group of people. Instead of obeying the Holy Spirit, I was busy praying for God to send me a community of Christians singles to do life with.
Yes, there is a time to pray. But there is also a time to step out on faith.