Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Will A Sign Handicap My Faith?

You've heard them.
I've heard them.
A story about how something really silly kept someone from being part of the church.

Several years ago I wanted to get to know a widow lady better who seemed unhappy and possibly a little bitter. So, I set my bible down near where she always sat in HER PEW. I went around the room and greeted people as I always did, and came back top sit down, and my stuff was gone. I looked puzzled, and this lady replied,

" I moved your things up to the second pew where you belong. That is where you will be sitting."
Oh my, I could tell I had better not push the issue, or as I had been warned, she may get mad and not come back.

There was a clock on the wall in auditorium that drove my husband crazy. The reason it did was because at about 11:50 am, 3/4 of the congregation would begin to look at that clock on a regular basis. This was usually during the invitation. He knew that people were missing this important part of service where people were challenged to make a decision.
He mentioned it one day to someone. The next Sunday, the clock was gone and a picture of the Ten Commandments was in it's place. You would have thought Jesus himself had been removed. There were actually people who got mad and refused to come over the removal of a clock.

I heard a story this week that once again broke my heart. There was an elderly lady who always parked in the same place each week at the church building. As the congregation was growing, the preacher realized they needed a designated handicap parking space because there were some  people who needed it. The best place to put that was right next to the front entrance. Where this woman always parked. She drove in on Sunday, saw the sign, and then drove out. She called the preacher and informed him that when "THAT SIGN' was removed she would be back, but not before.

Each Sunday she would drive in the parking lot, see that sign and drive out. This went on for months. The preacher was at wits end. He asked opinions and finally he chose to move the sign and the woman came back.

This story makes me mad. It also breaks my heart. It also convicts me.
I never want to be that older person who has to have her way all the time. I never want to be that grumpy old lady that everyone walks on egg shells around. I never want to be the old woman that everyone sees as bitter and contentious.

My friend Debbie, who is also a preacher's wife, and I discuss this all the time. We see older people who are demanding, unwilling to let anything new happen and try to throw up a roadblock anytime they can. And we have promised each other that we would never become that way.

And then...
I complain because I don't like the way that thing is done.
I get angry because someone has a different view point on ministry than I do.
And I am convicted.

It starts early.
It sneeks in.
It is justified.

I never want a "sign" to handicap my faith.

But Satan does.

So today I choose to be convicted by Matthew Chapter 7.
3 “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? 4 How can you say to your brother, ‘Let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when all the time there is a plank in your own eye? 5 You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye.

Time to get a chainsaw out and make firewood out of this plank.

Chasing After Their Hearts,
Glenda Johnson

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