This is the End: My Return to Church
Credit: City Church of Bartlesville’s Sermon 12/31/17
Background: I grew up in a Christian household where my family and I prayed together before every dinner, we attended church weekly, and we participated in religious education. While I have always firmly believed in God, my personal execution of my faith has waxed and waned throughout life’s seasons. The common theme that has emerged is that I engage in more prayer, church attendance, and community time when I am in a darker life season. As I move forward in my recovery, I recognize that God is drawing me closer to Him. This has manifested by attending Mass with my mom, starting my mornings with my favorite devotional, praying constantly throughout the day, and most recently, finding a home church in Bartlesville. The stubbornness I exhibited in 2017 that resulted in my call to change my life trajectory was a difficult lesson from God. Going forward, I recognize that there are many traits I exhibit and behaviors I practice that I need to change, and I must seek Him to make these changes. Fortuitously, this week’s message at City Church was “This is the end”. I could directly apply the message to my recovery and desire to change, and believe that the main points of this message are a great reminder for everyone.
Main Point #1: We are called to live a life of change, and in Christ, this is possible.
This lesson appears at multiple places in the Bible:
- Ephesians 4:22-4:23 (NRSV) “You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds
- Romans 6:6 (NLT): “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”
Main Point #2: 2018 will be the end of overworking
Proverbs 23:4: “Do not overwork yourselves, have enough sense to know when to quit”
Working overtime and constantly being “too busy” are rampant in today’s world. Unfortunately, when we overwork, our relationships, job performance, and friendships suffer. With persistent overexertion, exhaustion, health issues, and addiction emerge.
I have personally lived this. As an eager new pharmacist with an overachiever temperament, I devoted 10+ hour days to my new position. To my work days, I added extra movement time and stressed about my house and personal appearance looking “perfect” from the outside. The end result? I rarely saw close friends and my personal relationships suffered. I fell into a period of depression and experienced multiple health issues. I re-entered my addiction to my eating disorder.
Fortunately, the Bible offers solutions to overworking.
- Matthew 11:28-29 (NLT)-“Come to me, all you who are weary and carry heavy burdens, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you. Let me teach you, because I am humble and gentle at heart, and you will find rest for your souls”
Main Point #3: 2018 will be the end of overcommitting
- Our schedules should reflect what we value the most. For me, this is family, friends, and my health. Throughout 2017, my day-to-day life did not reflect this. In assessing how I was allotting my time, one would conclude that my priorities were work and exercise. My recent life changes meant saying “no” to work and exercise and committing my time to restoring my health and fixing relationships. Now, the way I spend my time does reflect my values. As I work through my time in restoration, my main goal is to establish a schedule that holds true to these values that I can continue when I return to work.
Main point #4 2018 will be an end to overthinking
I am so guilty of this (and I think it’s a common foible of many females). The “What ifs?” of my life have led to excessive worry that has caused me to live in a perpetual state of fear and anxiety. So many times, I’ve been told that worrying does not solve anything. I objectively know this is true, but living this way has repeatedly proven to be one of my biggest obstacles.
Two verses from the Bible were referenced:
- Phililipians 4:6- “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”
- 1 Peter 5:7-“Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you”
It’s unnecessary to overthink and worry, because God is capable of meeting us where we are, caring for us, and providing an answer in His own time.
The Take-Home Message (and my goal word for 2018!): I will be an overcomer in 2018
By strengthening my spirituality, I will be able to overcome these personal shortcomings and live a life of change. This message came at an ideal point for me, and my hope is that these lessons and verses can be applicable to your journey, also.