Tuesday, January 25, 2011
That's His Job
When I was about 16 years old. I thought we had finally found the right fit. We had started attending Putney United Methodist Church. There was a young, idealistic preacher there at the time. He hadn't been there long. Was just building a following. More specifically, a young following. I am here to tell you, when you can pack a church, to where there is standing room only, in the back, and they are all teenagers, you have created yourself a following. A true miracle as far as I'm concerned. He had my attention from the minute he opened his mouth to speak.
He was a different kind of preacher. Which it seemed, turned out to be his downfall. He would take one verse out of the bible and preach a story around it. He would preach a story that grown people and children alike could relate to and understand. Unfortunately, back in that time, maybe even in this time, it was not what the elderly in the church wanted to hear. It wasn't enough "bible" for them. He was there for a year. And then he was gone. Voted out. By the church elders.
We continued going there through the next preacher. For about three months. And in that three months time, the church dwindled back down to it's original form. There was plenty of seating room in the pews and it was no longer a standing room only crowd. I remember hoping back then, that the elders were proud of themselves. The people, the children, who needed to learn the lessons of God the most, were gone.What an injustice for all of those who were left.
When I was in my twenty's I worked with a woman who was in the church every time the doors were open. Her husband was a Deacon. We had phone solicitation late one night at work. Her husband had come to sit with her towards the end of our evening. As he sat, they began to talk about a young couple in their church who were having marital problems. The young man continued to come to church, as did his young wife from whom he was separated. Both of them members of the church. The discussion was about the amount of discomfort this was causing the young woman. How uncomfortable it made her, for her husband to come to church when she was there. The Deacon and his fellow church members had spoken to that young man earlier that night. And asked him to stop coming to church there. And why. And asked him to find another place to worship.
Now again, I ask you. Who needed to be sitting in a church worse than most anyone else at that point? And who in the world were they, to ask this young man to no longer attend their church and to go find another one?
I'm not about to sit here and tell you those reasons are why I do not go to church. But I will tell you, those two stories alone, are the reason I have a problem with human beings and church. I fully realize I am supposed to go for me. For what I get out of it.
I think I was born cynical. Not hard. Not a non-believer. Because I believe with all my heart. But cynical. I question everything. Too much maybe. Just the same, I have a need to know.
As I'm growing older, I think I need to know now, more than ever. I think I have prayed more in the past year than I have in ten years combined. And I don't take praying lightly. I don't pray for foolishness. I don't pray for teams to win the Superbowl, or the World Series. I don't pray for my youngest son to win his football games. I don't pray for my oldest son to have his writings published. When those things are supposed to happen, they will.
But I do pray for my oldest son to have a safe trip when traveling to Tuscaloosa and back. I do pray for my youngest son and his bus load of teammates to make it home safely from games that are three hours away and the road back is long and late at night. I pray when my husband is traveling, he makes to and from each job site safely.
However, I will not say I never pray for what others may think is wasteful and foolish. I unabashedly admit, that last year when our office played softball in a league, and I was up at bat, I said a quick prayer when it was my turn. That this overweight, old lady, who can no longer run, would catch a break. Because my boys were watching. And I prayed that I could get a hit. Just one hit, not one at every time at bat. So I wouldn't embarrass my children and I might could make them proud.When the bat cracked that ball and I made it to first base..I looked back at the stands to see both of my boys smiling and hollering. And I said a silent thank you to the One who helped make it possible.
These days, it seems I am praying for one friend or another every day. Or family members. I am pretty sure the good Lord has noticed, that I ask for his attention and help a lot more these days. It seems my knees have calluses lately from all the floor contact they have had. But I also know, he knows me. And he knows whether I am sitting in a church pew or not, I am living the best way I know how. That I care about people. That I try and look out for people. And maybe a little too often, put everyone other than me, first. It's the way I know. It's the way I was raised. By my Mama and Daddy. Both who know God as good or better than I do.
We'll have conversation when I get There one day. Of that I am certain. He knows me inside and out. Where ever I am, whatever I'm doing. He knows before anyone else. And He's taking notes. For more conversations. Until then, I'll keep living the best way I know how. I'll keep praying for whoever needs it as hard as I can. And I'll keep trying to remember, that I don't need to know the answers to everything. I don't need to understand everything. Nor do I need to judge what I do not understand. Someone else is taking care of that. And if I want something to believe, I just need to believe He knows what He's doing. Always. He showed me that today. I have prayed non-stop for days for my friend. He showed me again today. He not only listens, but He is in charge. He took care of my friend, and for that I am forever grateful.
I love you Patti Craver Duffy, scuffed up knees and all.