Now that I’m actually in college, it’s really hit me that…I won’t be coming to the young people’s meeting for a while. As I’m sitting here typing in my dorm room, I’m reflecting upon all the time I’ve spent at the Church Assembly in Westminster. At the beginning, I have to admit, I was reluctant to come to church, only coming when Andrew came from New Jersey to visit California. I still remember coming on Sunday to the big children’s meeting and bursting out in tears when I was incapable of correctly memorizing the day’s memory verse. Although at the time it seemed like maybe I wasn’t cut out to participate in the church life, in hindsight I may have still had the heart for it. What else could explain why I took memorizing verses so seriously and was so persistent in buying a Bible for myself, not just using the already weary New King James Versions that were provided? It was obvious that I wanted to make the church life the centerpiece of my daily living, but I just lacked the maturity and the understanding to fully do so.
In later years, I do believe that the Spirit grew more and more and worked greater and greater within me. Although my early time spent at the young people’s meeting was fairly unfruitful as I still grasped the church life from the perspective of a pre-teen in the world, the years starting from about twelve and beyond were filled with immense grace. I had always been a fairly good observer, and after seeing the life of Christ lived out in so many of the saints in Westminster, I do believe that a bit of it seeped into the shell that I had. After accepting Him as my Savior more and more, I realized with increasing faith – which is better than confidence – that I truly had Christ’s life in me and that it was not I who lived, but Christ in me. I couldn’t make full utterance to the manifestation of Him within, for who could at so young an age and with such limited knowledge of the Word? but I was capable of believing, and from the start that’s all He’s asked of us. The saints in Westminster were patient, kind, and filled with the joy that comes from knowing the Lord, and I took heart in this fact.
It’s fine to reminisce and all, but the fact of the matter is: I realized my love for the brothers and sisters in Westminster. In high school, I thought I knew about love, but by the time I graduated, I realized that I didn’t know anything about it. However, as I drove off the parking lot last Sunday afternoon, the concept of love dawned on me – the fact is, love isn’t a concept at all. To try and conceptualize love is like trying to bottle air; you think that you got it full, but it’s hard to tell if you got it at all. It hit me how much I was going to miss getting to church early and setting up the books alone in the young people’s meeting room, how much I enjoyed singing hymns before discussion opened, how much I was going to miss the prayer time before the singing, how much cleaning on Saturday mornings that I was going to miss, how much I would actually miss playing on Sunday mornings as well as ushering, how much I missed fellowship with the brothers in a practical way, observing the life within one another and the lives that we conducted. The fact is, leaving Westminster behind is turning out to be much more difficult than going was in the beginning. Words will never be able to contain or embody the feelings within me as I reflect upon time spent well in church and how much the body means to me. It’s not much but I wrote a short poem that came up during my short stay here at UCSB:
As the sun sets in the west, the brothers still minister
Worshiping the Lord with their hymns, a flowing banister
of glory and praise for the Lord who has brought
elders in a family with youth to be taught.
The youth were somewhat reluctant at first
Quick to play and laugh but slow to the verse.
The seed within grew and maturity came
And with time the youth were no longer lame.
Made strong to stand upon His holy Word,
leading by example and keen to quickly serve.
A life of service within His One Body and Church
with no animosity to come and besmirch.
The brothers walking together with hearts full of love
as the Holy Spirit descended in the form of a dove.
Where the young people were gathered, He was in the midst
Making sure to help fellowship and have nothing amiss.
He leads us, He leads us, where else can we go?
For we of His mighty power do know.
And so we keep walking, with hearts full of prayer
Though I’m in college, I hope to see you there.
Come four weeks, Thanksgiving, even the winter
I long to return to my beloved Westminster.