Years ago I heard a little story that has come to my mind many times since then.
There was an old man who lived out in the country. He regularly attended church and participated in the community. One winter Sunday morning he looked out and saw that it was snowing. As he sat by the fire, he decided he’d just stay home where it’s comfortable. The next Sunday morning, again, he chose to sit by the fire. As the weeks passed, it got easier and easier to make the choice to stay home.
One day, as he sat home by the fire, there was a knock at the door. He answered the door to find the preacher. The old man invited the preacher inside and together they sat by the fire. As he rocked in his chair, the old man watched the preacher take the fireplace poker and pull one coal from the fire out onto the hearth. Together they sat in contented silence. As the time went on, that coal on the hearth began to lose it’s glow. It grew colder and darker until it was no longer capable of providing warmth for them. The old man looked at the piece of coal, got up and pushed it back into the fire where it quickly began to burn again. He looked at the preacher and said “I’ve got your point. I’ll see you on Sunday.”
My life has changed drastically in the last year. I left the home I’ve known for more than 20 years and moved across the country. The Covid 19 pandemic began shortly before I left and church gathering came to a halt. Now, months later, many churches across the country are still not gathering. I’m working a contract 500 miles away from the town that my husband and I are building our home and planning to retire, and I’m working every Sunday. I’ve had no opportunity to even TRY to find a new church home.
I’m not trying to make excuses. I’m simply recognizing the situation that has led to my complacency.
For years I went to church every Sunday morning and I met with a small group for food, fellowship and Bible study every Sunday night. Being a part of that community helped to keep the fire burning. Those people that I spent my time with helped to lift me up. They helped to remind me of my purpose in life. They held me accountable for my actions. They showed me love every day. Without that community, I have felt myself growing colder. I’ve felt myself becoming complacent and comfortable to just do my own thing, thinking more about myself and less about others. This is not who I want to be.
Today I’m praying for our country and the end of this pandemic. I’m praying life can soon return to normal so that we can all gather again and, with the gathering, we can help to keep each other’s fires burning. I’m praying that, when I return to my new home, I’ll find a new church home as well and become an active member of the community, serving others the way I believe I’m intended to do.