This particular Sunday felt no different than any other. We attended church same time same place. We worshiped to music. The pastor taught us from the Holy Scriptures.
I’d been struggling through something though. Quietly. Privately. With the Holy Spirit. I had an internal conflict going on with a friend. I never said negative words out loud so as to avoid confrontation. But I’d had hundreds of conversations in my head. And I always seemed to win the arguments.
I’m sure my nonverbal language communicated some dissension. We don’t hide those things like we think we do.
The service ended with a song. Now, make no mistake. There wasn’t an invitation call per se. My new Reformed traditions dont lend themselves to such practices. Not on a weekly basis anyway.
Our prayer partners were in place. We do often have these men and women available at the end of our services. Especially when we sing one final tune.
As the music played, I felt a familiar tug. The Holy Spirit called me to come. To the altar. I love our prayer partners. They are my friends and I know them well. But I didn’t feel led to share my need or to pray with them.
No, I heard the call quite clearly. I had business to do. Alone with God. Regarding my hardened heart. At the altar.
I went, of course. My walk with Jesus started at the altar when I was seven years old. I said yes then and I’ve been doing my best to respond ever since.
I have been to said altar countless times. Oh, sure, the altar varies by church, denomination, city. But I’ve always found God there. Waiting.
As an older child, I would take my troubles to Him there at the little country church just up the road from my house. A church who never locked her doors. Where I’m from, it really wasn’t necessary.
I’d walk the dirt road slowly. Already deep in reflection. The church had a quiet reverence. It carried the musty smell of age. And there, I’d talk with God.
And He walks with me, and He talks with me;
And He tells me I am His own;
And the joy we share as we tarry there,
None other has ever known.
Each time, my soul would leave refreshed. And one day, years later, I got married there. Seeking a marriage blessed by God.
In college, I lost my grandpa. The relationship he had with his Creator was only between him and God. He was one of my favorite people, like ever, and I desperately wanted to understand without any doubt what eternity looked like for Grandpa.
Week after week, I made my way to the altar. A more elaborate altar this time. The church I attended in college was fancy and new. The biggest church I have ever attended.
Sometimes I was the only one at the altar, but it made no difference. Through my tears, God taught me deeper lessons about faith. And sharing our story with loved ones. I walked away from this time knowing one's salvation truly rests in Christ alone.
Vocabulary.com offers the following definition of an altar:
A raised area in a house of worship where people can honor God with offerings. It is prominent in the Bible as “God’s table,” a sacred place for sacrifices and gifts offered up to God.
This definition resonates with me. For what else do we have to offer God but our very real selves? I have saved my faith, deepened my faith, at God’s table many times over the years.
Sometimes the altar has been the ground right in front of where the pastor stood at a microphone. These days, the altar is at the base of a middle school stage.
A place where I continue to trace God at work in my faith walk. I work my faith out there with fear and trembling.
My daughter was baptized at this altar too. As a baby. In years to come, I hope and pray she’ll learn to offer her own sacrifices of tears. The gift of herself. At the altar.
Today's post is linked up at Ed Cyzewski's blog. Visit his site for other writers reflecting on what saved their faith.
“What saved your faith? Write your own post answering that question and then visit edcyzewski.com to learn how you can join the synchroblog or to read additional posts to celebrate the release of Ed’s book A Christian Survival Guide, which is discounted on Amazon this week. “