As you serve the Lord, work hard and don’t be lazy. Be excited about serving him! [Romans 12:11 (ERV)]
Do your best to be the kind of person God will accept, and give yourself to him. Be a worker who has no reason to be ashamed of his work, one who applies the true teaching in the right way. [2 Timothy 2:15 (ERV)]
It rained in southwest Florida yesterday. While that is of little interest to most of you (especially if you are experiencing an Arctic blast in the north), it was of concern to our church. We have one of the most beautiful churches in the area—designed by God (with a little help from the park district)—but it has a leaky roof. Actually, since we meet outside in a city park, we have no roof at all! While God and the weatherman seem to cooperate most Sundays, every once in a while our sanctuary has mud puddles and the chairs are wet. Many find shelter in the nearby gazebo while the early birds crowd onto the band shell with the band and singers. The truly hardy (and latecomers) hunker under their umbrellas in the rain.
Pastor was asked if there would be an abbreviated service because of the weather. As long as we were without tornado warnings or lightning, the service would proceed as planned. If, in spite of the inclement weather, people came to our church, a full worship service is what they wanted and what they’d get. Without a doubt, I am sure there was a least someone there yesterday who desperately needed the entire service, not just a Reader’s Digest version that had been condensed because of the weather. I’m sure there was at least one person whose heart was moved by the words of Amazing Grace and more than one who needed to hear every word of Pastor’s message about truthfulness. There probably were many more who craved laughter and truly needed to hear each one of his jokes. There were many who were there, not just for music and message, but also for Christian fellowship. Along with worship, they needed the welcome, kind words, smiles, handshakes, and hugs that came with the service.
Yes, we are saved by faith alone. All the work in the world does not mean salvation and even our grandest efforts will not get us into heaven. That doesn’t mean, however, that we are not to put our best effort into everything we do for the Lord and His church. God expects a first-class effort, not a half-hearted attempt, even when it’s raining.
While those who passed by the park may have seen a rather bedraggled group of church-goers gathered together and trying to stay dry, I think God looked down from his heavenly throne and saw a grand cathedral filled with joyful worshippers. He didn’t hear just a few voices raised in praise, he heard a choir much grander than that famed one in Utah! He saw people expressing love—for one another and for Him. Yesterday, God was just pouring a little of his goodness down on us and I pray that His goodness continues to grow because everyone did his or her best during worship service. After all, “Into each life some rain must fall.”
Be still, sad heart, and cease repining; Behind the clouds is the sun still shining;
Thy fate is the common fate of all, Into each life some rain must fall,
Some days must be dark and dreary. [Henry Wadsworth Longfellow]