How have you felt the Holy Spirit’s guidance? Has it been a little tug, a gentle nudge, or a big shove? For me, it’s usually been the latter, but none as impactful as the shove I felt seventeen years ago.
As a child, I attended church regularly with my parents, and even semi-regularly when I was in college. But when I joined the workforce, I gravitated away from church and from God. It was more convenient to sleep in on Sunday mornings and catch up on household chores. I scarcely thought about prayer unless I was running late to work. God wasn’t a priority;I had other things to do.
However, once my husband and I moved away from the city and to our farm, I became more aware of God’s beauty and power through our garden, the wildlife, and even the weather. Soon, I felt a little tug, as if God was calling me back. I didn’t run back to church, but I did purchase a Bible and began to read it. As I read, I felt a nudge to return to church. Still, I found an excuse each Sunday not to go. Finally, one Sunday I felt an invisible push to get in the car and go.
I felt good about the decision until I pulled into the parking lot. This church was very old and very small, and I imagined everyone in the congregation turning around to stare at me when I walked in. Worst of all, what if I sat in someone’s “designated” pew? My heart thumped rapidly. I could hardly breathe. As soon as my nerves settled, I decided I would head home.
My keys were in the ignition to leave when this time I felt an invisible shove — not a nudge or push — to go inside. I left the safety of my car, climbed the chipped and uneven concrete steps, walked through the splintered red door, and entered the rough, gray stone interior of the sanctuary. The wooden pews were scratched with no padding on the seats. Perhaps fifteen people were in attendance, and a few did look at me — and smiled.
As I settled in the back pew, a lady turned around, patted my arm, and said, “I’m glad you’re here.”
From that moment on, I knew I was back where I belonged, back in church. Over seventeen years later, I still attend the same church that gave me an anxiety attack in its parking lot. The dear, sweet lady who welcomed me then, hugs me every Sunday. As my relationship with God continues to mature, I still feel tugs, nudges, and yes, even a few shoves from the Holy Spirit. I give thanks for them all.
The United Methodist Church in Honduras uses El Aposento Elto, the Spanish language version of The Upper Room daily devotional to start new faith communities. They use "An Easy Plan to Use The Upper Room in Small Groups" found in the back of the magazine. As the groups grow, they build critical mass for new church starts.