“You never regret a completed workout.”

Now… I’ve been pretty serious about my physical health for a while, I have never found the phrase above, meme-worthy as it is, to be wrong. There has not yet been a time that I haven’t been thankful that I at least did something to better my health.

So yesterday afternoon as I was perusing my social media, a friend posted the following:

Take your kids to church.
Make the effort. Wake them up early. Fool with the belts and the buckles and the fancy hair bows. Endure the sleepy, grumpy faces and the misplaced shoes. Run around like a mad woman gathering everybody’s everything and trying to get out the door on time. Hop to the car with a shoe in one hand and your make-up bag in the other. Give those babies a pop-tart and some milk and let ‘em eat it in the car. If its raining, get wet. If its cold, get a jacket. If you’re tired, go tired. But take those babies to church. You know why?
Because Jesus is there.
He’s there. And He’ll meet them there. And you too, Mama.
He’ll be there in the sweet smile of their Sunday School teacher as she greets them into their room. He’ll be there in the goldfish and the apple juice and the filling of their little bellies and hearts. He’ll be there in the hug from a sweet friend and the encouraging smile that assures you that they “just barely made it” too. He’ll be there in the sacred words read from the Bible speaking truth to their little impressionable hearts. He’ll be there in the worship and the raised hands and the watery eyes and whispers of praise.
So take them. Carry all of their Bibles and drawings and toilet paper tube creations. Sit by them in worship. Open your Bible and open theirs. Show them how to find the scripture the pastor is preaching from. Show them how to worship. Explain to them why He’s worthy of worship. Let them see you laugh and cry and praise and study. Forgive their wiggles and paper rustles and know that they’re listening even when it seems like they aren’t. Ask them questions and answer the ones they ask you. Introduce them to Jesus. Tell them of His greatness – his power – his faithfulness. Tell them with your words and show them with your life. Tell them what he’s done for you and how you’ve been changed by His grace and forgiveness and goodness and love. Tell them how they can be too. Point them to Jesus. Over and over and over again.
Take your kids to church. They’ll love it there. It’s the only place where they can go and just be themselves. They don’t have to “be” good enough or smart enough or athletic enough. They don’t have to perform for approval or achievement. They just get to go and hear how much God loves them. Just because they’re them. Just because He created them, they’re valued. Wanted. Their worth isn’t based on the grades they make or their ability to throw a curveball. Its not dependent on their performance or skill level. And they need a little more of that, don’t you think? A little more grace and a little less pressure. A little more love and a few less demands.
Take them to church. Before you take them to the ballfield or the dance studio or the gym. Before you take them on vacation or to grandma’s or to the backyard to play. Take them to church. Let them know its a priority. Show them it has eternal value. Let them see you set aside schedules and extra curricular activities and work and busy-ness to be present with the Lord in His house. I promise you won’t regret it. I promise you it won’t return back void.
Take them to church.
I promise it’s worth it.
“But Jesus said, ‘Let the children come to me and do not hinder them, for to such belongs the kingdom of heaven.”
Matthew 19:14
© Megan Breeland Woodham, One Step Ministries

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Being a pastor and all, I do not often get to experience this part of parenting. My fantastic spouse bears the Sunday morning responsibility of getting himself and the unpredictable little human with whom we live to church (and does so wonderfully, I might add). I try to leave the house before either of them are awake to take my own unpredictable self out of the chaos equation.

This was not the case yesterday. With my spouse out of town my poor kiddo got dragged out of bed earlier than normal to join me on the pastor schedule of church life. She was early into the office, sat through the worship prep. meeting, dutifully engaged the childcare staff for two services, sharpened pencils through an after worship meeting, and then ate a metric ton of pizza with the youth group. I don’t know who was more tired: her or me?! But you know what?

I don’t regret it.

It is hard to get kids to church. The post above reminds us. I would venture to guess that whatever stage of life you’re in, it is hard to get to church. You may have a body that hurts. You may have this one morning to rest up or sleep in. You may have other opportunities for community. You may have had a long week leading up to Sunday. You may have a long week facing you after Sunday. You may have been up too late the night before. You may have been up too early. You may not like to drive. You may not have someone to drive you. The list could go on forever.

But you won’t regret it.

The same way our bodies need a balance of rest and exercise, our souls need rest and exercise, too. I hope that in this faith community you find the ways to not only exercise your soul but also the place to rest and worship. Whatever is pressing in upon you that keeps you from worship, I hope you make the choice[1] to come. You won’t regret it.

… because if you’re not here, we miss you.

[1] Ask me sometime about the choices I make to allow a 5 a.m. run to happen. I do things like sleeping in my running clothes, set multiple alarms, and bribe myself with coffee, just to name a few.