By Jacob Hatcher
Early this morning, all by myself, I had church. While my wife Jaime got ready to run errands and the kids still slept, I had church. I wasn’t in an auditorium and no one preached a sermon, but I had church. Today, my church was the track circling the playground at the school near our house. Where music usually sets the mood, it was the echoes of laughter. Instead of stained glass and light shows was an early morning sun cutting through a light covering of clouds. The speaker at my church was a podcast about a bear hunter that died in the 1840’s. It wasn’t what we typically think of as church, but when I got home, I felt a spiritual vigor that had not been there when I left, just like a good church service should be. Without a word of scripture, a note of music, I knew I’d spent forty-five minutes with my Father. While this morning was refreshing and helpful to me, it will never take the place of what happens at church on Sunday. It will never take the place of being gathered together with the Church. I get it. We’re all busy. Church people have hurt you in the past. Church leaders have let you down. What I have found is that healing from those hurts doesn’t come from morning walks listening to podcasts about 19th century hunters. Just like muscles don’t heal by not getting used, we don’t heal from relational hurts by excommunicating ourselves from relationships. What I’ve found is that when something hurts us and we hide away from it, we imagine it to be a much bigger monster than it ever was. By all means, remove toxic people from your life. Quit trusting leaders that have lied to you and shown themselves to be hypocrites. But don’t let them steal the goodness of God’s word away from you. God hasn’t hurt you, people have. God’s word hasn’t hurt you, someone’s use of it as a sword has. Whatever way you feel comfortable, have church by yourself this week. But then Sunday morning, go to Church.