So the Lord Surrounds His People

“As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds His people both now and forevermore.”- Psalm 125:2

It’s funny how ordinary events can spark extraordinary ideas, isn’t it?

For 18 years, I have gone to the same church. Every Sunday morning, Sunday night, and Wednesday night that I was alive and well, I was at church. I never had to wonder if we would go or where we would go. I knew.

Maybe it was because I never remembered a time where I didn’t have a church family. Or because a lot of people in my church family were actually my family (last I counted, I’m related to 25 of you (; ) Or maybe it was because I considered my close “church” friends, simply my friends, that I never made the connection.

A couple of weeks ago, I joined close to 50 other young adult and college individuals for a Spring retreat with my newfound church family here in Nashville. Friday night we made our way to Short Mountain Bible Camp in Woodbury, TN, and got ready for a packed weekend.

To end our first night, we all stood around a bonfire and sang in worship together. The songs we sang were very familiar. I had sang most of them many times, including the one that hit me the hardest…

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

So the Lord surrounds His people.

As the mountains surround Jerusalem,

So the Lord surrounds His people.

Surround us, Lord.

Surround us, O Lord.

We need to be in Your presence.

Surround us Lord.

A short, simple song. That suddenly made a thousand light bulbs go off in my head.

As I looked around, I was literally surrounded by God’s people. Many of whom I did not know. But here we were, all singing the same words, in praise to our same God. We were asking God to surround us, and as I looked around, I realized He already had.

And that’s when it hit me. THIS is why God ordained the Church. THIS is why organized worship is a vital part of Christianity.

It’s not about appearing holier than someone else because you go to church three times a week. It’s not about a check list we have to accomplish to “earn” our reward in Heaven. It’s not just something we do because we’re told to. And it shouldn’t be a guilt trip we have to give ourselves to motivate us to attend a worship service.

Church, as God designed it, goes way beyond those four walls, public prayer, a quality message, and singing praises. Church, in all of its fullness, gives us a community of people to share life with. People who will encourage us in the hard times and rejoice with us in blessings. We are created to be a community that can physically surround our people with the presence of the Lord.

There’s something incredibly valuable about finding a group of people who can serve as your family when your biological family is miles away. People who surround you with love and encouragement and step in to take care of you when times are tough. I guess it’s a value that you don’t fully appreciate until the ones who always did those things for you are gone.

Those times when you’re sick with the flu and 300 miles away from your mom. Or you get a flat tire and your dad is in another state. Or your birthday falls in the middle of the week and your family is too far away to visit. But your church family shows up ready to fill that gap. Soup and crackers for the flu. A quick tire change. And dinner and a cake to celebrate your birthday.

Those moments are worth more than gold. And they are all found when a church is functioning as a family, surrounding each other with the presence of Christ, just as the Lord intended.

God knew what He was doing when He ordained organized worship. And it’s to our benefit to take full advantage of the community we find there.

“and let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” Hebrews 10:24-25

Thank you for pulling me in and loving me well Crieve Hall. You are gracious.

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