When I was in middle school, I tried my best to find something other than the Southern Baptist Church I had grown up in. My church did not have a youth group, so I attended other churches with my friends and I loved it. These youth groups had games, snacks, and upbeat songs—we had nothing similar at my church.
Later on my church hired a youth pastor so I began going to youth group at my church. It was great for the time I was there, but there were drastic differences. There were no games, no snacks, and overall, I found it very boring. My youth group was not fun, but when I started college I started to appreciate where God had placed me.
When I started college in the fall of 2014, I knew that church attendance was something I wanted to make a priority. I still wasn’t convinced I wanted to be Southern Baptist my whole life, so I visited many different churches. After a semester and a half of looking, the Lord brought me to a church that I love more than words —Calvary Baptist Church.
Calvary is a Southern Baptist church in Elgin, Illinois and there are many reasons why I chose to attend Calvary for the duration of my time at college, but one of them was that it reminded me of home. What I love most about the SBC is that they are a denomination that cares very deeply for its members. They care about the seemingly small things like daily spiritual disciplines that take part in our sanctification and laying guidelines down to ensure that we are honestly seeking to be more like Christ. With being raised in a Southern Baptist home, I not only began to appreciate the SBC, but I began to appreciate my home and local church as well.
Do I agree with everything the SBC stands for? Not entirely, but the one thing I greatly appreciate about the SBC is that they look out for the betterment of its members by giving biblical instruction to pursuing godly lives that are centered around Christ. The SBC seeks to preach Jesus Christ as the Son of God who was sent by God to save sinners and by the Holy Spirit man can repent of its ways and find complete joy and satisfaction in Christ.
Tradition is a beautiful thing. Tradition develops who we are as a person and is often the track we walk on to find ourselves. I not only am grateful for being raised Southern Baptist, but I also love being Southern Baptist now because this denomination—this tradition—taught me how to know God by searching the Bible and seeing Jesus. So let us inspect our traditions and see how they have shaped us because when we see how God works beauty in tradition, then we can see how God works beautifully in us.
One tradition my family does is the fantastic combination of orange cinnamon rolls and Welch’s Blueberry Grape Sparkling Grape Juice. We have these for birthdays and Christmas morning. Nothing too difficult, just buy some cinnamon rolls, pour yourself a glass of sparkling grape juice and enjoy!
Every year my family and I go to visit my grandma in Washington D.C. and we normally travel on the weekends, so a tradition we have is doing a worship service Sunday morning in the car on our way home. One of the songs we sang this year is “It is Well” by Jimmy Needham.
Sovereign and gracious God, forgive us when we are stuck in our ways and forget to focus on you. Forgive us when we constantly run away from you and deny you as our Lord. By your grace, bring us back to you and continue to make us more like your Son, Jesus Christ. Open our eyes to our own traditions and lead us to marvel at the many ways you have guided us to where we are today. Whether times are easy or hard, calm or wild, joyful or depressing, we praise you for we are fearfully and wonderfully made. Thank you for your providence and never leaving our side. In the name of the Father, Son and Spirit, amen.
I want to encourage you to evaluate the many journeys the Lord has brought you through. Look at the many or few churches you have visited, or simply look at the small or drastic differences the Lord has made in your life. Go as far as you can. It’s scary, but may that be cause for you to praise the Lord because he used that to bring you to where you are today.