Yesterday I visited a man from our church in the hospital. He’s been in a Nursing Home for many months and headed back there last night. He lamented that he wanted to get back home so he could come to church. I know he really wants to be there, but honestly, he only showed up occasionally before he went to the nursing home. He always had a lot of reasons why he couldn’t come, but now that he really can’t be there, he misses being with his church family even more than before.
Two other older woman I visit also want to be in church. Both of them attended faithfully until their health just won’t allow it. They only leave home to go to the doctor and perhaps an occasional family function. I feel so bad for them. They truly long to be in fellowship again, but their health just won’t allow it.
Meanwhile, I hear, “I really want to come to church, but . . .” almost every day. It’s probably more frequent for me since I’m the pastor’s wife, but to be frank, I’m tired of hearing it. Every time the phrase starts my hairs start to stand on end as I think of those elderly saints who can’t get to worship.
It’s been almost twenty years since Somerton, Ohio lost Ethel Ackerman. She missed about the last six Sundays of her life, up until then we saw her almost every week. Those last weeks Steve would sometimes get called to move her from one chair to the other because her legs weren’t even strong enough to help the caregiver get her around. But up until then she hobbled into the sanctuary every week. She scheduled her doctor appointments for Tuesday or Wednesday so she wouldn’t be too tired to come. It took her that long to recover after a day out.
I truly wish those people who start their sentences, “We want to get back to church . . .” could hear what I hear. Because it sounds something like this:
- Ball games, practice and dance are really more important than worship
- I’m too ill to come on Sundays, but I’ll see you at Wal-mart
- Frankly, I’m just too lazy to get out of bed before noon on Sundays
- I really just don’t love Jesus enough to make worship a priority
I understand folks who make excuses aren’t as far along as others in their journey with Christ. I don’t mean to be so hard on them. But maybe it’s time they heard the truth. I’m hoping one of those excuse makers will read this and just be honest with themselves. Because you can’t fix something if you won’t admit it’s broke.