Late for church!
This Sunday an unusual and unnerving thing happened: I was 25 minutes late for Brickhill's Sunday service. The fact that I can tell you the scale of my tardiness to the minute is indicative of how concerned I was, which got me thinking.
Let’s start with the reason for turning up late: Deb landed at Gatwick at 7.30am that morning after a week’s holiday in Canada and I’d realised that a four-hour round trip to say hello before she flew off the Scotland would make both of us smile. I’d hoped that I could make it back to Bedford in time but she didn’t get through security etc. until 8.30. We had a too-brief reunion and then I was off.
I’d managed to get down to Gatwick in 90 minutes but on my return there were a lot more cars and a lot more rain on the road. Crawling along the M25 at the kind of time I usually arrive at Brickhill was a bit surreal.
Arrive I eventually did and promptly got on with the business of trying to justify myself to myself, whilst also trying not to. The conversation considered the following claims (A) and counter-claims (B):
- A. There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. I have His righteousness, not mine, so God’s assessment of me remains as stunning unrelated to my current behaviour as ever.
- B. But that is a liberating motivation to give my all to Him, not an excuse to lay around and say, ‘God loves me whatever so I can do whatever I want.’
- A. The leaders at Brickhill have been wonderfully gracious towards Debbie and me as we manage a long-distance relationship and the added challenge of my working weekends.
- B. Nevertheless I am paid to work for the church and our Sunday services are hugely important.
- A. Few other people would have such caring employers.
- B. So I should be a good employee.
- A. I wasn’t preaching, or hosting the service.
- B. Now that’s not the only reason to be there on time, is it?
- A. Debbie is my life’s highest priority after God Himself.
- B. But you didn’t have to do all that travelling and be late to express that to her.
- A. But I decided to.
- B. Yes, that’s why we’re having this discussion.
- A. Could we get on with worshipping please? I’ve missed enough of this service in body let alone missing the rest in spirit. Isn’t that the whole point of being here anyway?*
There were probably a few other points made by either side but I can’t remember them. None of the leaders asked where I had been anyway; I’m trusted and try to be trustworthy.
And I do like to try to justify myself too. Even though I’m totally righteous in God’s eyes. There’s a good chance that I want to post about this to explain to any from Brickhill who read it what the deal was. This is one of my ongoing challenges: to truly know God’s love and acceptance, and to be motivated by that – and that only – to live a life pleasing to Him.
I’m glad I did it. Anything to make her smile :)
* With apologies to P.G. Wodehouse who used this technique in his Jeeves & Wooster novels occasionally with typical comic brilliance.