sand dune

I was having a conversation the other day with a friend about different things, one of the things we were discussing was that someone had said they didn’t need to go to church 2-3 times a week. This statement took me back several years.

I worked for Norvel Hayes Ministries for over seven years. While I was there we constantly had conferences. They were three times a day, Monday through Friday. Then we had church twice on Sunday. Beyond that we had school in session on the days that there were no conferences. And, last, we would often go minister at other churches on the weekend. At the end of that seven year season, I was exhausted and totally burnt out.

During that seven years, I thought this way, being in church as much as possible, our way, was the only way to get close to God or seek God. If I came across people who did not feel the same way I did, I judged them wrongly. If people missed church for any reason we would give them one of those ‘we are praying for you’ looks.

Years later, as God dealt with me I realized that I had wrongly judged many times in my life….I know it is a shock…LOL…but I did and I fight not to do that at this present time in my life.

My way is not the only way and frankly, my way is not the right way for everyone. Only God knows a persons heart. And only God knows what season they are in. Sure, we can tell a lot by their fruit, but even then we can’t always understand what it is in their heart that causes them to produce that particular fruit – to understand that, we would have to know them. Breanne taught me this a few years ago, she said ‘Mom, you don’t know their story, if you knew their story you would understand why they react that way.’ This is so true.

I think many times when we ‘spiritual people’ judge those whom we think are not as spiritual as us, we put them in more bondage then they were in before. And what may be worse, we make them feel like they can’t run to us when they are hurting.

We say we want people free but then we try to make them do things the way we think things should be done. This is never the right way. If God sends someone across your path to minister to and to lead, first seek God and ask him to show you their heart. Ask him to show you their hurts and disappointments. Ask Him to show you how He would want you to minister to them. Only when you truly know a person will you understand why they do the things they do. When you know the root cause you can work on the root of the problem.

I learned a lot at Norvel Hayes Ministries and I am so thankful for that time in my life – it is a true treasure to me. But in the end, I was burnt out. And I took some time away from church, not away from God, but away from having to be in church every time the doors were opened. Guess what? I didn’t stray from God, I stayed close to God. The day I left that ministry I received a prophecy that said ‘God is taking you away into a time of intimacy with him.’ And he did. It was just me and God for a season. At the end of that season, God blessed me beyond anything I ever imagined.

Don’t misunderstand me, I love church! I think going to church is great! I think everyone needs to belong to a spirit-filled, on fire for God, walking in his presence, walking in his ways…kind of church. I think we should WANT to be at church to fellowship and celebrate God, not do it out of obligation. This story is not about church…it is about judging where others are walking. Be careful when you do that. I did that and it did not go well for me. The funny thing is, those I judged back then, twenty-five years ago, they are still walking strong with God. They went a different path but God is still the focus of their life and his love and presence still radiates on their faces.

Everyone has their own walk! Celebrate it with them. Know their heart and keep them encouraged. I have found if I am a light for those in darkness, then they can find their way easier. If I give a kind word instead of a judgement, they are more often to join me in prayer or in a meeting. If I share the love of God, they are going to want to be where I am, because they crave that love…today I encourage you to be a light! Be that love. Be the Jesus they come across today. Love them, don’t judge them, learn their story and then…love them.