How To Arrive at Church in a Bad Mood

We look forward to Sundays. We get to worship God with other believers. Last Sunday my 91 year old mother was with us. That requires extra preparation. On that Sunday, a special guest would be interviewed in the worship service: Sadie Robertson of the Duck Dynasty family and runner-up on Dancing with the Stars. We anticipated a large crowd.  We must be earlier than usual.

The previous evening we attended a wonderful family wiener roast downstate, and we got home late. We got in bed about midnight. We were dragging the next morning. But all went according to plan. We left about 30 minutes early for an eight minute trip to the church. Great!

Three minutes later, traffic stopped. We were approaching a Harley Davidson shop. In the parking lot was the largest gathering of motorcyclists we had ever seen. All were  revving their engines.  (I’ve secretly thought, on occasion, riding a motorcycle looks like a lot of fun, though I’ve never tried.) The riders wanted to enter the street/highway we were on. Of course, they had every right to do so. But why now? Didn’t they know we had to get to the church on time? There we sat. Bike after bike crossed the parking lot and drove up a short ramp onto the highway we were on. As they drove in front of us my mood began to change, aided by a short night and great junk food the night before. I didn’t like those people I didn’t even know. Not because of who they were or the sport they were enjoying. They were just holding us up. After about half of them left the parking lot, they allowed our traffic to resume.

Shortly, two lanes would narrow to one at a traffic light. Another bottle neck; I knew it. I plotted an alternate route. The immediate next street was another way to the church. I’d never gone that way before, but I turned right. Why didn’t someone, or my GPS, tell me that street after street going toward the church were dead ends? My mood dropped another notch toward bad.

We finally got to the church early enough to find a parking place where I could easily transport my mother to the building. Surprisingly, the parking lot was not full yet. I forgot. Often people who attend contemporary worship services are last minute or late. That’s not a criticism, just an observation. When we got seated in the worship center, I didn’t feel like worshiping. I was still grinding on the motorcyclists, those directing their flow to the highway and dead end streets.

As worship began, the words of the first song were “at all times I will bless the Lord . . . .” At all times! Whether your toast burned that morning, or your baby spilled cereal all over the floor, or you and your spouse had an argument, or someone in the worship service irked you or did something you didn’t like, bless the Lord. There are a myriad of bad mood simulators. As we worshiped, my attitude improved. When the pastor invited us to pray silently, I found myself asking God to turn my attention from motorcycles and dead end streets to him. Why didn’t I ask sooner?

Isn’t that one of the sequels to worship? It puts everything into perspective. It upholds God’s greatness compared to whatever annoys us, scares us or frustrates us. Without worship, we deal with our own junk. We feel alone in our struggles. We keep thinking we are chief problem solver. Worshiping God causes us to remember we are not alone.

Jesus being raised from the dead changed everything. Worship reminds us that Jesus then said to all who dare to believe in him: “I am with you always.” That’s why I need to worship regularly. Stuff gets in my way. Then my focus shifts to the wrong place and I forget. Worship reels me in. Jesus is with me, no matter what gets in my way. Whether it’s big and life threatening or it’s small and annoying, worship jogs my memory: Jesus is there for all who will lean on him.

Author: Randy J. Gauger

Christ-follower, husband of Mary for 52 years, father, grandfather, great-grandfather, writer, preacher, ordained American Baptist Pastor, retired.

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