Sunday, January 13, 2008

How Hard It Is

We made it to church again today. Sadly, this is only the 2nd time we've sat through an entire church service the whole time we've lived in Shanghai.

We have good excuses:

1: There are only 3 protestant churches.
2: Each of these churches is a 30-60 minute taxi ride from our home.
3: Most of the services do not provide child care.
4: Most of the services are during naptime.

Today, we chose the 30 minute drive that does provide child care at the end of nap time. And, to our great surprise, it worked quite well. The girls joined us during worship and became comfortable with the environment, so that the transition into the nursery was relatively smooth. I sat with them for a bit to keep them comfortable, but the crying was gracefully minimal when I disappeared.

I stepped back into the service to listen to a wonderful guest speaker. He was a gifted storyteller and his sermon was quite good. I am resisting the urge to retell all of his strong points. But one did make an impression on me.

He compared King David and King Solomon, in an example of how its important to follow God with both your heart and your mind. King David followed God with his heart, but neglected being thoughtful and wound up making tragic mistakes. King Solomon followed God with his mind, but wound up distant from faith with fateful consequences as well. King Solomon who, when called upon to lead Israel, cried out to God that he needed wisdom. And God granted him that wisdom. And Solomon led a wondrously prosperous nation.

And he wondered to us. How many people would say to God, I would be closer to you if you would just remove these obstacles. For God could point to Solomon and say, I removed all of his. And still...

I'm no Bible scholar and so will take the illustration at face value. Which goes straight to my situation. We would be involved in a church, if only there weren't so many obstacles. Today we ignored those obstacles, planned ahead a bit, and each of us had a wonderful experience.

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