Recently, I was challenged to find my “five kernels” in life; you know, those times when perhaps we felt lost or broken and God provided, or a time the phrase “when it rains it pours” felt like an understatement.
Maybe you were struggling to pay your bills and then suddenly blessed financially
Perhaps you were were struggling emotionally and a friend reached out to see how you were doing?
Or you may have been struggling spiritually and heard a message that reminded you God is with you
I would like to share with you one of my favorite kernels. This kernel is more of a story than just one specific situation. So pop some popcorn and I hope you enjoy.
A little over five years ago I moved to St Petersburg. I was in a new area, on my own and desperate to find a church like the one back home. During the first three years I tried six different churches. For one reason or another I just didn’t feel connected with them. I prayed that I would find a church to bring me closer to God by helping others. Then one day when I was feeling low and alone I heard on the radio (either Spirit or Joy FM) that on their website was a church finder. Later that day I searched and saw a church not far from where I lived with a pretty cool website, so I decided to check it out.
That Sunday, two friends went with me and when we arrived a nice bearded man greeted us and gave us free cups for filling out a new visitor card.
"This is nice," I thought as we sat near the front of the small church.
I remember feeling slightly intimidated during the shake-up, but also grateful as this is what I was looking for; a church that encourages fellowship and friendship. Then that nice bearded man walked up to front and, wouldn’t you know, he was the pastor! I wish I could remember the message from that day but I do remember the way I felt…connected. Connected to God and to this group of strangers I didn’t even know. Was this the church I had been searching for?
The next few weeks I couldn’t find anyone to go back with me so I just didn’t go. Not long after that, my mom came in town and I was so excited to show her the church I found. We woke up that morning, headed to Radius and no one was there.
Did I get the time wrong? I swear this is the correct location.
I soon found out that the gathering that day was being held at Ft. DeSoto for beach baptisms. At this point I was feeling discouraged as we left.
Now a few weeks later I asked my new neighbor if she wanted to check out Radius with me. She proceeded to tell me she was already going to her church and I should come with her. I was just excited to go to a church so I accepted. As I sat there flipping through the bulletin I saw an announcement for a meeting after church about a mission trip to Costa Rica. I immediately knew I was going. I can’t explain it, and can only imagine how it seemed when a strange girl who they had never seen before walked into the room and said, "I would like to go with you." They were going in just a few months but I knew in my heart God wanted me to be a part of this.
Well now what about Radius?
I was super excited about this mission trip and felt I should start attending this church’s services. It was a beautiful church. I enjoyed the messages and everyone was super nice. However, I kept thinking about that little church I had only been to once and wondered if I would ever go back.
As part of our mission trip the church had been collecting shoes for us to take to the children in Costa Rica. When we were just a few weeks away from leaving I was told that the following Sunday our team would be attending a different church who had been collecting shoes as well. We were going so they could pray over us before we left.
"That is nice," I thought. "What church?"
My heart fluttered. I couldn’t believe it! The small church I checked out months before and wanted to go back to ever since? That was the church we were going to visit? What a perfect example of God’s plan in action when we have no idea what is going on. He does!
So my second time ever to Radius was to collect shoes and have them pray over us for our mission trip. To make this story even cooler, that nice bearded man's wife was going on the mission trip with us. I knew her and I were going to be great friends before she even knew who I was.
Ever since then Radius has been one of the best things God has ever brought in my life. They have challenged me, in my walk with God, in ways I never have been before. I have learned that church is not a building, it is a group of people coming together. That is what I felt that first day when I walked through those doors at Radius. I now understood that connection I felt was The Church.
We are not an obligation or destination, but a mission and movement. Acts 1:8