Outside, the temperature was sizzling, already in the 90s at 9:00am. Inside seats were limited as teenagers from other churches gathered to attend a nearby retreat. With very little cool air circulating over the few rows of chairs, reluctant church goers kept their arms to their sides, hands extended palm side up.
The worship team sang uplifting and encouraging songs. I sang along to the one song I recognized. My heart longed for my beloved church during the unfamiliar ones. More new songs! I glanced around the room and held onto my husband's hand a little tighter. I was struck with an odd feeling of insecurity while many thoughts raced through my mind. I mostly wondered why God had led me to this foreign place with such hot weather.
I was still trying to take all the newness in, when the worship team finished their final song. That's when the Pastor began to speak. He said, "Let's begin with prayer." Then, he prayed that God would speak through him to reach the heart of one of the church goers or maybe even every church member. Next, we opened our bibles and turned the pages to Acts chapter 16. I smiled when I heard my husband and I flipping our bible pages together.
The Pastor began to preach. "Praise God no matter your circumstances," he said. Then, he continued "Consider what the apostle Paul was doing just after he was beaten and placed in prison stocks. He sang in worship to the Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, followers of our Lord and Savior should also invite Jesus into our lives during time of trial." I felt my heart warm when the Pastor added, "Just as Paul did, we too should find ourselves praising God during those moments when we feel under fire and uncertain of our future."
Under my breath, I began to giggle. God was speaking directly to my heart. "Sing a song of worship to Me through the scorching heat and uncertainty. I Am with you." Suddenly I glanced down at one particular finger on my right hand and noticed a particular copper ring on my finger. A precious gift from a dear friend at my beloved church. I looked around the new church one more time. This time, I smiled as I thought, "I may not know any of these faces, but I know that I am not alone. God is here with me and deserving of a tribute of praise!'