19.6.15

Walking to Church

The summer I went to Europe was not the first time I had needed to find my own way to Church. That had occurred the year before, when I spent a month in North Carolina as a Benjamin Franklin Fellow. I hadn't done a very good job-- I was busy, and there were cultural activities each Sunday. And so I missed church for three weeks, until the spiritual hunger I felt grew deep enough to overcome my sense of awkwardness, and I asked if my host could drop me off at the nearby LDS chapel on the last Sunday of the program. 

I resolved after that experience that I wouldn't let awkwardness or someone else's schedule keep me from coming weekly to take the sacrament and worship my God. And so as I set out for Europe, I made a list of cities I'd be in for a Sunday, and looked up addresses for the nearest chapel to where I'd be staying. 

Walking to church in a new city each Sunday marked a turning point in my religious life. For the first time in my life, I was an adult setting my own schedule and traveling at my own volition. I had made the commitment of belief years earlier in life, when my father left the church, and I had developed my own relationship with God. But walking to church when it would have been so easy to do otherwise, and when no one but God would know or care, made that commitment real. 

I still treasure the memory of those walks and the church meetings that followed them. I could feel God answering my commitment with His own, and the spiritual experiences I had at those meetings continue to influence my life. 

One Sunday in particular stands out as one that changed the course of my life. I had been praying for several months before the trip about whether I should serve a mission for the Church. On Sunday in Prague, I asked for directions to the chapel I had looked up before leaving the States, and then started walking. I lost my way, had to detour around a major construction site, and finally arrived halfway through the sacrament meeting. 

As I sat in the back of that small chapel, listening to talks translated from Czech to English, I received the sudden, deep conviction that God wanted me to serve a mission, that it did matter, that the Church was true, and I knew it, and God knew I knew it. I have had few moments of such total clarity in my life. It was the answer to months of prayer and pondering. 

I don't think those prayers would have been answered if I hadn't walked to Church, and shown God that I was serious about listening to Him, that I was looking for an answer, not just going through the motions. I don't walk to church in a strange city very often these days, but I do believe that it's important to show God that I'm serious about my commitment and about the questions I ask. 

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