Get Your Fill
Living as a missionary in a city that does not have a church outside of my colleagues and one or two nationals has taught me a lot of things. But the thing that stands out to me most is that we cannot rely on others to fill us up spiritually. I think many of us who come from a Western culture where there are churches all over can start to rely on the pastors, worship leaders, lay leaders, etc. to fill us up.
I have been incredibly blessed throughout my life by the churches I have been a part of. Both churches I have been a member of have been true church families in every sense of the word. And the pastors that led the congregation were men of God and taught His Word, even on the more difficult topics. The greeters were always joyful and welcoming, the worship was always great, and there were great leaders for going on mission trips! Both churches are mission minded in the community and in the world. I am so thankful that I was able to grow up in that way.
But the downside of that is that I relied on what my church did for me to grow in my relationship with God. I had the mindset of “What can my church do for me?” instead of “What can I do for my church?” Sure, there are times when we need community around us. But we should not rely on the church to get filled up spiritually. That is our responsibility. We must find a way that we connect well with God, whether that is through prayer, music, reading the Bible, writing, etc. Find how you connect with God best and make it a priority to do that every day.
Now, I’m not saying that if you don’t connect well with God through prayer to not pray. That is how we communicate with God, but maybe you’re not the type of person who can just start praying with no other prompt. And we all need God’s Word as well because that’s how we learn more about His character and nature and His faithfulness. But find a way to connect with God that will get you going, then flow into these other things.
I was talking to a friend a while back and I told her that I hadn’t been inspired to write much recently, which is something I normally enjoy. She said two things that really stuck with me. The first thing she said is that writers write. So, take the time to write every day, even if it is only one sentence. And the second thing she said is that writing is how she worships God. I hadn’t ever really thought about worship being something other than singing or praying before. If we enjoy dancing, baking, drawing, hiking in nature, etc., that can all be a form of worship to God and a way to connect with Him, so do that thing every day, even if it is only for 30 minutes.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,” Colossians 3:23
So, before moving to Serbia, I hadn’t really seen the need to find how I worship and connect with God because I thought I did that every week. And let me tell you, we all need to be filled up daily. I heard a pastor use this metaphor once: Other than when we are fasting, we need to eat food every single day, so our body gets the nutrients we need. The same goes with spiritual food. We don’t eat once per week and then not eat for the rest of the week. We would starve! So why do we do that with spiritual food? I heard another quote that said, “We get physically hungry from not eating. We get spiritually hungry from eating more.”
Now that I don’t have the privilege to participate in corporate worship every week, I can clearly see how much I need to be able to fill up spiritually on my own...with God, of course, just not relying on other people to give me that fill. I feel closer to God here than I ever did at either of my churches. They both played a big part of me being here, but they can’t fill all the needs of any of their members, nor should that be the expectation that is put on them. I am so grateful for them and what they have done in my life and what they’re doing in other’s lives!
There’s one more point I want to touch on. I don’t want you to hear me saying that we don’t need corporate church. That isn’t true either. We need a community of other believers around us to encourage us and help hold us accountable. That is one of the beauties of church! I am thankful that I had that, too. And that is one thing I desperately miss as I’m living here. It is biblical to be in community and to have a church and to be the church. We cannot walk this life without other people around us. God made us to be in relationship with Him and with others.
With all of this, I want to challenge you to find how you can worship God day-to-day if you haven’t already. And if you are not part of a church family, I would also encourage you to find a place you can learn and serve. These are vital for your relationship with God and your spiritual health!