There I was, standing on a mountainside, with the cool crisp mountain air on my face. Below me was a deep, frost-covered canyon with evergreens that looked as thick as a freshly sodded lawn in June. The sun rose and hit the top of the mountain to create an alpenglow color that could not be mimicked anywhere on this earth. And as the world stood still, I heard the call of a Rocky Mountain Elk whose voice echoed off the granite rock all around me. I breathed in and breathed out to just to take it all in. The glory and the splendor of God’s creation overtook me, and I couldn’t help but feel extremely close to the Creator in that moment.
With archery tackle in hand, I pulled out my phone to check the time to see how much of morning I had left to hunt the wild hills of Montana. I looked down and saw the time, day, and date—7:02 am, Sunday, September 27. I felt a brief pang of guilt for skipping church—but I was completely convinced that there was nowhere on earth I would rather be than experiencing God’s creation. I wasn’t being limited to a building and wasting a gorgeous day at a boring church. The mountain was my church. I experienced God in the mountains much more than I ever had at church.
But as time wore on that fall, I started to notice a disconnect from God as I missed more and more Sundays at church. Though I was in His creation every weekend and felt His presence, I still felt distant from Him. I started to feel like I didn’t really know God on a personal level like I had in the past. So I started to dive into reading books and listening to different messages online. I started to learn a lot about who God was and how to incorporate him into my daily life. But something was still missing.
During this time, I met a girl that would later become my wife. She challenged me to get involved with a church on a weekly basis instead of when it was convenient for me. We started attending together, and it wasn’t long before I started to get approached with different serving opportunities. This scared me because I did not want to give up my weekends, but I knew that something needed to change in order for me to get out of the complacent lifestyle I kept falling into. After much wrestling with God, I decided to get involved with the worship team. I knew how to play the drums, so I thought that would be a good place to start.
This step of faith to get involved with a church was one of the best decisions I had ever made because I finally got to connect with other Christians. This was the thing that was missing—a quality community of believers.
I discovered that church wasn’t about the walls, but about the people inside. It’s about the people who gather on a weekly basis to learn and grow together, to sharpen and spur one another on in this difficult life. Though you can get a lot out of standing on a mountainside, hunting elk—God created the outdoors to be enjoyed, after all—nothing can replace gathering under the same roof with other followers of Christ, worshiping God together, and finding a community of people who will walk through life alongside you.
Steve Vedders is Eagle Brook’s Marketing Strategist on the Central Communication Team. He loves the outdoors and photography. He lives in Blaine with his wife, Kellee, and their adorable 1.5-year-old daughter, Harper.