church: where broken people find their heart’s true home

Many of us fail to experience true heart connection with a church community. Those with chronic illness can struggle to get to services or stay in touch with friends. Even regular attendees can experience a sense of dislocation and isolation. But there’s a place there for us all. You belong.

Two years ago, my husband and I finally made it out to a service at our church. Our attendance has been erratic for years due to chronic health problems, so the Pastor took advantage of our unexpected presence to suggest we participate in the sermon Illustration he was giving.

We didn’t even need to leave our seats because he brought the microphone over to us. It so happens (in God’s perfect timing) that the sermon was on aspects of marriage and faithfulness. He felt we were suitably qualified to offer an opinion, especially as it was our 40th wedding anniversary that day.

My husband demurred, preferring me to answer instead. I prayed, took a deep breath and spoke from the heart, praising God and expressing deep gratitude for the man He had chosen to place by my side throughout life.

It was lovely to reconnect with friends and be of use again. But the service and fellowship we experienced that day gave me a pang of regret that church—as defined by being in a building on a specific day and time—was largely lost to me because of having chronic illness.

Thankfully, “church” means more than a gathering of people being taught, singing hymns, saying prayers, sharing communion and praising God together. The Bible defines church as the Body of Christ worldwide.

church - meaning - beloved - body of Christ worldwide @wordsofjoy.me

Church is a hospital for the hurting. A home for lost souls. A welcoming committee for the isolated and lonely #wordsofjoy #faith #church Click To Tweet

It is unrestricted by difference over theology and practice and unfettered by physical proximity or ease of access. I believe church is a hospital for the hurting. A home for lost souls. A welcoming committee for the isolated and lonely…

“Together you are the body of Christ. Each one of you is part of his body.” ~ (CEV)

Although church itself doesn’t always console us, in the silence and stillness of our hearts we are still able to meet powerfully with God.

As an institution, the official Church has caused much unintentional harm and offense over the years to its reputation and members, often driving away potential seekers after Jesus.

We can forget church is full of imperfect, broken and wounded people, just like you and me. We should bear these things in mind, while not being quick to judge or harbour resentment and unforgiveness.

“So in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others” – Romans 12: 5 (NIV)

Church should look less like a cliquey, elite social club and more like a unique hub of trust, friendship and love. Because we are Christ’s ambassadors on earth, the world-wide family of God, His loving welcoming committee to those in need.

church - definition quote - (C) joy lenton @wordsofjoy.me

“We are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making His appeal through us; we [as Christ’s representatives] plead with you on behalf of Christ to be reconciled to God.” – 2 Corinthians 5:20 (Amplified)

Maybe church is a place where you no longer feel safe or want to belong? I’d like to reassure you that you are not, and never will be, invisible to God. Whether you’re a keen churchgoer, a wanderer, a jaundiced believer, a lost soul, or an earnest spiritual seeker who hasn’t quite found their spiritual home yet, God’s arms stand ready to welcome you to Himself.

You don’t have to be in a specific building, dress a certain way, sign up to anything or speak Christianese. Only to be searching. Only to be aware you have needs which nothing else can satiate, and a longing to find your heart’s true Home and safe place.

Church as a community may have failed you in some way but God never will. Doctrinal disputes might have tripped you up in the past but God invites you now to lay those things aside and simply come.

God is interested in you first and foremost. He wants to shower you with His unconditional love. You can return to God whenever you want to. You belong. He sees you, my friend.

6 thoughts on “church: where broken people find their heart’s true home”

  1. Dear Joy,
    Thank you so much for sharing these beautiful words about the Body of Christ. We really do put so much emphasis on outward things, don’t we? When all along, Jesus includes us and draws us in closer to His heart. We are HIS ambassadors! And, I am so thankful that you have been one member of His Body that has helped me during lonely seasons of chronic illness too! Blessings love and hugs to you my dear friend!

    1. Dear Bettie, thank you so much for leaving a comment here as well as at the Beloved Prodigal blog. You have summed up the challenges before us succinctly and with wise insight. I am truly thankful for the friendship and fellowship we share! It’s really encouraging to have an online community of believers who not only share our faith but also walk the path of chronic illness with us too. I never cease to marvel at God’s glorious provision! Blessings, love and hugs to you too, my friend! xo 💜

  2. I love to think of Church as the body of Christ all over the world, Joy. As you know, I have trust issues when it comes to a physical church community because of past abuse and lack of support. It’s still difficult for me to enter one without feeling anxiety and sometimes panic. Chronic illness does keep me away, too, especially in the winter. Thank you for the encouragement that God will never fail us and desires to shower us with His unconditional love! Love and hugs to you!

    1. Trudy, as I wrote this piece I was thinking about people in similar situations to yourself and how church can be such a loaded word for many. I am sorry you are still struggling with entering a church building, but I quite understand why it’s so hard for you. Our emotions take a while to catch up with the freedom we know we already have in our spirit and the healing we have received in regard to past abuse. I hope you know that you and your blog are a welcoming safe haven for many, a church-like community where brokenness and the restful Hope we have in Christ are equally shared. May you keep holding on to the joy we have in relationship with God and the close, warm friendships we have with fellow believers. May those things help chase out the ghosts of the past and the pain they inflict in the present. Love and hugs to you, dear friend! xo 💜

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