I’m a preacher’s wife, and to be honest, I don’t always love Sundays.
For one, I have to get the kids bathed and dressed and fed without help from Daddy who woke up before the sun. I get them dressed and braid their hair and haul them to the building thirty minutes before Bible class to make copies or talk to a deacon about something.
I walk the girls to their classes and teach my Bible class, which I love but which usually exhausts me. I meet up with Justin in a hall somewhere between class and worship and we smile at one another, and then we’re apart again until he slips into our pew halfway through the first song.
During worship I make “You’d better straighten up” faces at my daughters as I twist their arms until they “try” to sing. Sometimes this goes well, sometimes poorly. Sometimes it results in London singing very loudly when everyone else has stopped. Sometimes, like last week, I drag my youngest out of church during announcements as she screams “Don’t spank me!”
After church Justin talks to forty-two people and I find our kids and try to keep them from knocking over old people or screaming or otherwise terrorizing innocent church-goers. I talk to visitors, too: “It’s so nice to have you—LONDON, IF YOU DON”T KNOCK IT OFF I”M GOING TO TAKE YOU OUTSIDE AND—we really hope you’ll come back again soon.”
Usually Justin and I collapse on the couch around 2 pm. At that point, he’s been working for eight hours straight. Then, at 2:30, I head to a baby shower…
Sundays are hard, and while I wish they weren’t, I’ve learned to find God in the difficulty—in the chaos and in snatches of stillness. I see God in the laughing faces as I drag Eve kicking up the aisle. I see God in my third-graders telling me kindness is “love in action” before I’ve even taught the lesson. I see Him in beautiful sermons and in the words of scripture on the screen and in the sometimes squawking voice of my daughter singing, “Holy, holy, holy…”
But if I only saw God on Sundays, on those long, hard days, I would not see enough.
Praise God for Mondays. And Tuesdays…
Growing up I’d always been taught that Sundays were for “re-charging batteries,” for “re-connecting with the body,” for being “filled up” with Spirit and Word, a pep-talk to help us “make it through the week.”
I saw us church attenders like cars at the gas station or like plugs in one giant power strip, guzzling energy in excess for the blackout days ahead.
I came to church on Sunday mornings to get what I needed for the week, like a child on allowance day, pockets empty after six days of spending.
Sometimes I left the building feeling full, like I’d been really and truly fed. Most of the time I didn’t. Full or not, I almost always ran out of gas half way through the week.
Looking back, I can see the problem: Sunday wasn’t enough.
I look through the New Testament, through Acts and the epistles, and I don’t see a body of people lining up with cupped hands on Sunday mornings. Instead, I see people studying and seeking instruction every day of the week, people meeting to eat in one another’s houses every day, people who show up on Sunday not with an emptiness to be filled but with an overflow to be shared.
In I Corinthians 14:26, Paul tries to help the church at Corinth figure out an orderly way to worship. He says, ”When you come together, each of you has a hymn,or a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue or an interpretation.” He doesn’t say “Each of you should have a hymn, or a word of instruction…” He says they do. Full of the Spirit of God, these people came to “church” to share.
That’s not always what we do. Too often we starve ourselves during the week, drag ourselves to church on Sunday morning, and, in our ravenous hunger, heap our expectations on teachers, elders, ministers, and friends.
We complain when the preacher doesn’t provide a “well-rounded diet” or enough “meat.” He’s not “deep.”
We complain when people don’t stick around to talk to us after church. They’re not friendly.
We complain when we don’t see the elders on stage enough. They’re not “truly leading.”
We complain because Sunday is the be-all and end-all, and if it doesn’t happen on Sunday it’s probably not going to happen.
Sundays are beautiful days, and Sunday worship is a powerful thing, but let’s remember, it’s an hour-long thing, a tiny fraction of a single day, of which you will likely have tens of thousands. Sundays simply cannot bear the work of building a lasting and mature relationship with Christ and His people.
Your preacher cannot feed you into spiritual maturity.
Your worship leader cannot sing you into joy.
Your Bible class teacher cannot instruct you into righteousness.
Your friends cannot cram the encouragement you need into a fifteen minute hello, goodbye.
Spiritual maturity happens…
When God’s people live together and learn together and laugh together—spending their days together.
When God’s children read their Bibles and talk to God directly, looking for Him and listening to Him on Mondays and Wednesdays and Saturday nights.
When we realize that being a Christian is about being with God. Every. Single. Moment.
If Sundays were all we had, I suppose we could make due. But we have so much more than Sunday.
Last week I held a friend’s newborn at her house while my husband cooked us dinner and her older kids played with mine in the next room. The next night I met with my small group and we talked for two hours until it was too late and all the bedtimes were shot and we didn’t care because the night had been so good. A day later, after I’d spent the morning reading about David and Joab and the redeeming love of God, Justin and I counseled a couple about to get married and celebrated with them the victory of purity. That night we met new church members and bonded over bourbon bread pudding with butterscotch. On Saturday we played soccer in the sun with missionaries from Australia while our daughters made pen pal plans despite not yet having learned to write.
And when Sunday came around, I appreciated it—even the dragging Eve down the aisle part. I learned and I worshipped and I encouraged and received encouragement. And all of it was a luxurious gift as I was already so, so full.