Are you so caught up in the familiar that your breath has been taken away when the simple act of readjusting completely changed your view and perspective? I’m not talking moving to a new town or job, but some action so small it seems insignificant at the time?
Sit me front row, smack dab in the middle of a classroom. Sit me in church, I’m still near the front of the herd, which gravitates half way back in our huge sanctuary with a much smaller congregation. A perfect spot for this church employee. Close enough to the front to spring into action if someone forgot this was their children’s sermon week, but far back enough to catch folks to see if they need to pick up their new Bible study book they forgot last week. Sometimes I get a little crazy and step across the aisle to the east side, but not too often. Don’t want to throw the church off balance.
This Sunday is different. I’m wishing I had a big floppy hat, dark glasses and a mustache. The public person that I am is not feeling public, something my church family would not understand. They are used to me dragging skeletons out of my closet and teaching them to do the Electic Slide down the center aisle in a dance off with Ezekiel. When I started doing radio, my family took it pretty well that they were going to be priceless material, shared across the airwaves in a 90 mile radius.
After 2 1/2 months of knowing this is my last official ‘work’ day, it is hitting. Handling ‘good-byes’ is not my gift, even though I am not leaving this church. There is still so much ministry that God has given me the green light to do here. This should not be a big deal! So, feeling absolutely ridiculous that I am a bundle of emotions and soggy kleenex, I’m tempted to jet out and avoid it all, but that would not be finishing well, would it? To add to the drama I am overwhelmed with secrets in my heart, I can not share at the moment. I opt for the balcony. No one ever sits up there. I will be alone and fly above the radar.
Just the Sound Guy and the Computer Diva share it with me. They know me well and knew my struggle. You see, I know I am not a hard act to follow, but I also tend to take on responsibilities God never intended me to hang on to. When He spoke that it was time for this new chapter to begin, I was ok. As the clock ticked and question marks loomed over how everything is going to get done until a replacement is found, I have allowed my spirit to grieve that I am letting the church family that has raised my children, celebrated with my family, and wiped my tears through considerable trials and heartaches down. We won’t even go into the friendships of my co-workers and how that will change. The glob of kleenex has now grown to softball sized.
The service pauses for ‘shake and greet’ time. I peer over the rail to see who is roaming the aisles. Amongst the sea of bald spots shining up at me, I see a grandma lovingly smoothing her grandson’s hair. She’s trying to kindly line him out about something and he is rolling his eyes. A hum of voices greets me as I overhear, “how’s your mama doing?” and “Tell me about the cruise!” A single dad wrestles his two little ones. His road has been far from easy, but he keeps coming back, faithfully to folks that delights to see this trio. Maybe I am the only one that noticed, but towards the front away from the herd, two friends embrace. As they step back, one is in tears, as the other straightens the friend’s collar, patting her shoulders and sincerely conveying encouragement this gal desperately needs. I glance away from this private moment.
Everyone heads back to their seats. Announcements begin. “Oh, there is a card for everyone to sign for Bob since he took that nasty fall. We’re passing it around.” Heartfelt prayers fly as a theme of cancer diagnosis and treatment charges forth as a like a plague. An announcement is made by a sweet little pumpkin with a big bow in her hair. A new brother has arrived in her family as she holds a teary grandma’s hand. I tear up with her as she has shed a few with me in the past.
Oh how I love this gang! All perfect? Not a one of them. Maybe that’s why I’ve fit in so well here. What ties them is love-Christ’s love. They love Him and in turn love each other. There is not a face that I don’t see Jesus radiating in. They are covered in grace and aim to pass it on. God has great things in mind for these folks, even though we can’t see how it’s all going to go down.
My shoulders unwind as the stess of the load I was never meant to carry melts. I hear a noise and a few other ‘balcony’ folks have slipped in with me. Maybe they are overwhelmed and need the space? Or maybe they have been here before and they are inspired by this breath-taking view.
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit–Just as you were called to one hope when you were called–one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.’ Ephesians 4: 2-5
(PS-Cheryl, if you read this, I picked up my basketball sized wad of soggy kleenex. If there were some left, they were someone else’s. Proceed with caution. Love ya!)