But I’m So Glad I Did!
As I wearily pulled myself out of bed, I found myself thinking, “I really don’t feel like going to church, Lord.” It had been a long week, and frankly, I found myself in one of those spiritually dry places. The last thing I felt like doing was going to church this morning and definitely not getting there an hour early to help set up. On top of that, I would have to leave early to be at work by noon.
I suppose this feeling is common for a lot of people on Sunday mornings. More and more, I am hearing of former regular church goers who spend Sunday mornings doing church via the television if at all. Some do this out of laziness, some out of unworthiness, but most, I suppose, out of disillusionment. Hurt by a series of unkind gestures from fellow parishioners, disappointed by the moral lapses of some church leaders or themselves, they choose to worship in the safety of their own home. On this particular morning, I’m glad I didn’t succumb to this temptation.
When I arrived at church, I was surprised to find the set up was almost complete. However, there was a need for someone to get the doughnuts. I volunteered, and my friend’s 16-year-old daughter agreed to join me.
Knowing she was procrastinating on getting her drivers license I brought the subject up. After all, surely with my nearly 40 years of driving, I might have something helpful to offer. As we discussed this topic, I encouraged her with a few tips and lightened things up, sharing some of my own driving follies. We enjoyed a chuckle or two before returning from our errand. I don’t know about her but I was blessed by our time together.
The next blessing came shortly upon our return. The church meets in a community theater, which had just completed a Three Stooges movie festival. I observed the theater owner neatly folding “Stooge” T-shirts, and asked if I could purchase one. To my surprise, he offered to give me a few that were slightly irregular and would most likely be thrown away. As I picked through them, I smiled as I thought of possible people who would get a kick out of this corny gift.
Blessing three came shortly after this when I saw a good friend walk in the door. Not everyone appreciates “Stooge” humor, but I knew he would. I immediately approached him—I got you an early Christmas present!—and unveiled the gift. His eyes grew as wide as any child’s on Christmas morning, almost as big as his smile as he saw Moe’s life size face along with the caption, “Moe tells you to shut up.” We enjoyed a hearty laugh and blessing number three was in the bag. What I didn’t know was this blessing would turn out bigger than I knew. I would learn later in the service he had confessed to church members some personal struggles and requested prayer. Little did I know the laughter I gave him would be so timely. He came to church with a heavy burden, and who would think that God would use a stooge, pun intended, to lighten his load.
Yet another blessing came also as a result of us meeting in a community theater. The next production to be performed was “A Charlie Brown Christmas.” One of the props was a booth with a sign reading, “Psychiatric Help…five cents.” Since I work in the mental health field, I couldn’t resist having my picture taken standing in the booth. A smile crossed my face as I thought of how my friends and family would enjoy receiving this picture via text and Facebook.
The final blessing came as worship began and the 16-year-old I was speaking with earlier led us into the throne room of God. My heart filled with joy as I worshipped a God who is pleased to bless a man who, just a few hours ago, was so reluctant to worship at all.
So despite leaving before even hearing the sermon, I left a blessed man. Blessed by providence, laughter, and connection. Connection with my family of faith and with my God. Blessed in a way that even the best TV preacher could never do.