The day I met Jesus was the day I went on a group camping trip. I was 13 years old and we had a church service before heading out to the camp grounds. I was in a church that I wouldn’t again visit until 10 years later.
My family did not know God, and by no means did I. I didn’t understand anything they were talking about during the service. Honestly, I didn’t even know my camp group was Christian. This was a trip my mum had put me in, one I absolutely loved, but didn’t necessarily center around God. The service was more of a “bon voyage, let’s thank God and pray you don’t get eaten by bears” sort of service.
I remember standing for prayer and all of a sudden having tears streaming down my face. I had no idea what had come over me but I distinctly remember feeling incredible longing, peace, helplessness, desperation … Love. Over whelming love. I cannot put into words what I felt. Someone noticed me crying and asked if I wanted to invite Jesus into my life. I shook my head too nervous and that was that. My life continued and I wouldn’t meet Jesus again until years later.
At the age of 21 I started dating my (now) husband. We did not live a God centered life and neither of us ever really spoke of God or any sort of spirituality for that matter. A few months after we started dating we moved to Halifax together. We left family and friends, living in a small apartment together with no real connection to the outside world. I worked a full time internship and my husband worked his full time job.
Our relationship was extremely rocky. My heart was changing, for reasons I didn’t understand which later I would learn was the cause of a mighty Holy Spirit convicting my own. Desperate to restore our relationship, my husband prayed one night and heard God speak to Him saying “Know me and read my Word”. Long story short, we dedicated our lives to Christ and have been transformed ever since. The two of us, alone in that apartment, discovered a God who chose to reveal Himself to us one on one.
In the past 6 years, I have been to multiple churches, but I can count on both hands the number of times. Each church has been unique and beautiful, some churches maybe one day I will regularly attend. I cannot tell you exactly why I never started going to a church regularly, but I know from the bottom of my heart that I’m doing something right.
Please don’t misunderstand me, because I truly believe we are meant to gather with other believers. We need to commune with each other, we need to have accountability and we need to support and sharpen one another. One of the biggest misconceptions among Christians today is that we cannot get any of this outside of the church building.
Many of us have this fear that if we are not attending a church every week we are either falling away, under deception, have no accountability, walking through life on our own or becoming indoctrinated by some false jibber jabber. All of this is fear based and comes from a mindset that believes God Himself cannot teach us, guide us and lead us without the help of man. This is not true and contrary to scripture. “And don’t let anyone call you ‘Teacher,’ for you have only one teacher, the Messiah.” Matt. 23:10
Yes, it is vitally important to learn from each other and God wants to partner with us to do so. Yes, I’ve learned a great deal from other preachers and pastors. God has grown my faith immensely through the help of friends and I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for them. But something happened in my life when I stopped feeling I had to be in a church building to be a follower of Jesus:
- I’ve realized that everything I’ve ever learned about God has been put on my heart before learning through anyone else. When my spirit became new and I truly sit with God, my heart is guided in the direction He wants me to go. Later He always confirms it through teachers and (ultimately) scripture.
- I realized how connected I could become with Christian friends. My relationships became more personal and my conversations deeper. We learn from each other, grow with each other and God becomes our main teacher and guide.
- My main accountability comes from God Himself, my husband and those who know me well.
- We learn from many different people, but ultimately God and His Word as final authority and truth. “I appeal to you, brothers, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be united in the same mind and the same judgment.” 1 Corinthians 1:10
- Having church a home is incredible.
I don’t want to be afraid of not conforming to what looks normal in today’s Christianity. I want to trust that every follower of Christ is following Him, truly following Him, which means allowing Him to lead them in whatever direction He sees fit. I want our lives to bear fruit and be a witness to others no matter where we gather together.
XO Anya Grace