It was the autumn of 2009 and I was a spiritual wreck. You know, smiling on the outside, but severely broken on the inside. This personal admission is probably one of the most common refrains heard in Christian circles, at least among the brave who would admit it, and four years ago I found myself caught up in the sticky web of spiritual masquerade.
Here’s the backstory. Prior to attending Calvary, I had worshipped and served at another area church for 10 years. Toward the latter part of my decade-long tenure, as a result of a series of unfortunate events that eventually led me to fervent prayer, fasting and seeking out godly counsel, it became clear that my time there had come to an end. So, I followed the appropriate protocol and respectfully said my goodbyes.
To date, leaving my previous church was, hands down, the hardest thing I’ve had to do in life, but I was certain it was the right thing to do.
So, now, I was homeless—without a church home, that is. But, I was so spiritually depleted, angry, hurt and ultimately, cynical that I had no sense of urgency in finding another local congregation in which to plant new roots. Rebellion was creeping in, and truthfully, I was tired of church. Worn out!
After several weeks—more like over a month, or so—of pitifully nursing my spiritual wounds at home, I began venturing out to a few churches I’d driven by in my travels in and around the city. Meh. Nothing stood out to me as being the right fit.
Then, my sister suggested I check out the “church just up the hill from the Cheltenham Mall.” She knew of the church on the hill because, some years before, she had enrolled my young nephew in Sonshine Day Care (his cute p’jammered photo still hangs on the wall!), but had never attended church services.
Well, my first Sunday at Calvary was on a cool September morning. I attended the 9:00 service. I sat toward the back of the middle section. That Sunday, and I will never forget it, Pastor John’s sermon was about being spiritually wounded. Whew.
Needless to say, I cried through the entire message. Then, there was a time of kneeling in prayer after the sermon. I knelt and wept through that, too. And, I stayed on my knees crying until just before the start of the 11:00 service.
God had reached down from heaven, wielding a balm-like laser beam, and touched my broken heart. Zap! The healing process had begun that very Sunday.
God had reached down from heaven, wielding a balm-like laser beam, and touched my broken heart. Zap! The healing process had begun that very Sunday. Only God could have orchestrated me being there to hear that message. With that, He made it abundantly clear that this was the place I should be.
Here’s what I personally like about Calvary:
- The love and kindness of the people
- The simplicity and clarity of Biblical teachings
- The organization of ministries, church events and activities across the board
- The leadership’s missionally minded view, which affords multiple opportunities to serve locally and abroad
- The diversity of membership
- The Small Groups
- The cool videos
- The coffee in the foyer
Here’s what I was reminded of when I began attending Calvary:
- God actually loves me (I had forgotten)
- God is a God of love (I had forgotten)
- There is joy in serving the Lord (I had forgotten)
- There is freedom in Christ (I had forgotten)
- The peace of God is more than a notion; it’s very real (I may not have known this)
Now, you know just like I do that no church is perfect. Disappointments and disagreements are inevitable wherever you fellowship. I’ve heard more than one pastor quip from his pulpit when disgruntled members talk about finding the ‘perfect church’ that the church couldn’t be perfect “because you’re in it.” Touche, right?
So, for me, perfection is not the goal when it comes to recognizing a good church when I see one. Calvary is a healthy, vibrant church. One that is reaching and touching and transforming lives. Supernatural healings have been performed in our midst. Missionaries traverse the globe sharing the Good News because of our generosity. Children are able to sharpen their reading and comprehension skills on our watch. Youth learn effective evangelism strategies and apply them. To that end, I have found Calvary to be remarkably fertile ground in which I am now happily planting new roots.
So, that’s my Calvary Story and I’m sticking with it. What’s yours?
Perhaps you’ve had a similar experience that brought you to Calvary Church and have kept you here. Perhaps your Calvary Story is so inspirational you can hardly contain it. We would love to hear it and feature you in our on-going articles highlighting members of the Calvary Church family.
If you would like to submit your story or your name for one of our writers to contact you, please send e-mail to email@example.com.
By Cynthia T. Graham
Cynthia serves the Calvary Church Media team as our lead writer and copy editor. For more about Cynthia read her bio here.