My Sunday morning preparation for service at BCC has changed significantly. My well-established, engrained routine, pattern, and habit of Sunday morning preparation went like this:
- Get up and get ready
- Meet my friend at the Café at 9:00ish
- Order the Café Combo or a bacon, spinach, mushroom omelet
- Sit and talk until 10:30 (when the waitress would deliver an iced tea (with two lemons) to go)
- Drive to BCC
- Park on the west side of the building in the no parking spot
- Enter the building at 10:44 and look for my seat on the back row (41 steps from the car.)
Four months ago, things changed. Immediately. Abruptly. Purposely.
In late August, during one of Pastor Toran’s sermons, his words prompted me to write “How do you get ready for church?”. I never thought much about the question or the answer again.
It was a time for me of challenge as I was wrestling with professional struggles that seemed to be on-going without a specific end in sight.
A week or so later, I was sure that God spoke to me about tailgating for church as a way to prepare for entering into corporate worship. So, I mentioned the idea and vision to Pastor Toran who thought it was a good idea that aligned with what Sis. Sonya was preparing for a BCC Leaders meeting. Pastor Toran asked me to speak to the BLT about the tailgating idea and they seemed to think it was ok to try.
So, we began to “tailgate” each Sunday as part of SML and as a way to get our hearts and minds ready with anticipation to come together for worship collectively. So, what have I learned?
- Get up. Seek the Lord.
(2 Chronicles 20:3-4 Alarmed, Jehoshaphat resolved to inquire of the Lord, and he proclaimed a fast for all Judah. 4 The people of Judah came together to seek help from the Lord; indeed, they came from every town in Judah to seek him.)
The Word talks about seeking God early in the morning. I am not a morning person, but the idea of getting up – making deliberate action and effort to seek the Lord just makes good sense. Get up.
For me “Get Up” means move in directions with actions that I KNOW God would have me move in. Don’t sit. Don’t wait. There is no need to sit or wait. Move. Move in the simple things (seemly mundane actions) that God would have me to do. Do them well. Do them with my eyes open; with my heart open, looking for, expecting a sign/symbol/open door of what to do next.
- Be in position.
(2 Chronicles 20:16-17: 16 Tomorrow march down against them. They will be climbing up by the Pass of Ziz, and you will find them at the end of the gorge in the Desert of Jeruel. 17 You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”)
My job is to get in position. To get to where I KNOW to be and to where I am able to be (physically and spiritually). I am not the leader; I am not even on the leadership team; but I am a part of the body, so what I CAN do is get in position. Have my heart and mind in alignment with God. Open. Ready. Here (i.e. present physically) and prayed up. In position. I am ready. I want God to find me where He and I both know I should be: ready (prepared) and in position to see the Lord move on my behalf.
- Be faithful.
Tailgating Week 3. The original, new, and fun thrill is gone. It was 7:30 p.m. on Saturday evening and the person I thought would be able to join me in tailgating was not available. Tailgating alone was not what I had in mind. And the “thrill” in the natural was gone. I didn’t feel like taking the initiative to make tailgating happen if I had to do it alone. So, I pondered, and whined, and stewed. I KNEW this is what God directed me to do. But now, if it was by myself, would I still do it?
I had to decide: “am I tailgating or not?” This was not a decision about a single Sunday —it was about am I going to take the steps and actions to get prepared to enter into corporate worship the best way I know how with others? Am I going to do this (until God says otherwise) or not? Tailgating is not about the food or signs or music or activities. It is about am I going to be faithful in preparing to enter into corporate worship? Am I going to do what I KNOW to do and am ABLE to do or not? Such a simple thing. The question of whether or not I am going to tailgate was not about the complexity of making it happen or the extent of fun I could have or the external significance of tailgating. The questions is: am I going to be faithful to God with this simple thing? Am I going to be faithful in preparing with other people to enter into corporate worship? What if it is just me? What if I am the only one who tailgates? What if I look ridiculous doing it? Is it worth the action, effort, energy to tailgate if I am the only one who is collaboratively preparing to enter into corporate worship? YES it is! It is worth the time, energy, effort, and actions to set up the tent, get out the chairs, arrange the food and drinks, play the music, get out the games and footballs, play corn hole alone, dance in the street by myself, and wait with anticipation for 20-25 people to tailgate, and yet be the only one who outwardly, publicly tailgates. YES IT IS ABSOLUTELY WORTH MY TIME AND ENERGY AND EFFORT AND THE RISK OF LOOKING SILLY because I AM READY (my heart, my mind, my disposition, etc.) TO FULLY ENTER INTO CORPORATE WORSHIP—- I am prepared to enter His gates with thanksgiving in my heart and enter His courts with praise! And it is worth it because I am faithfully obedient to this simple thing He has directed me to do; and He’s giving me great joy in this act of obedience.
As I mentioned, when God directed me to start tailgating, I was going through a challenging time. The challenge did not melt away — but my faith and strength to endure increased, as did my ability to hear God and to press on through the challenge with peace and grace. And today, I stand: ready, in position to see the Lord fight my battles– confident and strong, encouraged that He is causing me to prevail.