When I was six years old, my mother sat me down for one of those I-need-to-tell-you-something conversations. In my experience, these conversations were usually about my younger brother Bob, perhaps a discussion about the reason he needed a time out or a “serious-talking-to” by my dad. I loved these mom and daughter moments. They fed my ego. Being a big sister to a mischievous little boy had distinct advantages.
This time, though, our discussion wasn’t about some behavior modification expected from my brother. I was the one who needed to make a change. My mother informed me, gently, that I had been mispronouncing a word. It was church, not turch, and she and my father had decided that I was old enough to say it correctly.
“Church?” I said. “It can’t be church. Everybody says turch.”
“No, Sue Ann,” my mother told me (with a great deal of patience), “only you say turch.” I was indignant. Surely my mother was wrong. To prove my point, I embarked upon an active campaign to survey my friends in the neighborhood. To my great consternation, I discovered that my mother was right. Even my little brother said church, sort of.
It wasn’t easy, but eventually I broke the habit of saying turch and embraced church. Actually, I’ve embraced church ever since, the church as a body of believers — the church as a place for prayer and for worship and for fellowship. A place for comfort.
I am, however, very aware that some people, for a variety of reasons, are not at all comfortable in a church setting. Here’s the great news. Church attendance is not mandatory for believers. As a matter of fact, there’s a large group of people out there who fall into the category of “non-attending believer.” They believe, but they find their church in other places. Maybe in the woods, maybe on a lake, maybe through music or by reading the Bible.
I might wish that non-attending believers would find the same joy I do in church attendance, but isn’t it great that God is there for us no matter how — or where — we choose to reach out for Him? We have that assurance through the Bible itself. Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you...(Matthew 7:7, King James Version) Note the lack of designation concerning location. Wherever you are, seek. Wherever you are, knock.
What a comfort to know that God loves and listens to all his children, those who don’t attend church and those who do. Even those who attend turch.