Before you read this post, catch yourself up by reading:
So there we were – worshiping with our new friends Freddy and Sheena among a few thousand of the body of Christ. I did prep them ahead of time — that it was a very large church; that there would be a lot of people; that the worship, music and message would be impactful. Oh, and did I say that it was a large church? In fact, while we were getting the kids checked in Freddy mentioned that it seemed like a convention center. And he should know because that is his 11pm to 7am job.
The sermon, as always, was spectacular — The End of Me – Where Real Life Begins. This week’s was #3 in the series entitled “The End of My Performance” and hit home to any of us who have followed God’s rules, done what we thought was right, or “put on a happy face” so that we could get “credit”, get noticed or get acceptance. Pastor Kyle equated it to getting stickers in Sunday School for attendance, bringing your Bible, memorizing verses or singing songs. While those are good habits, so many of us continue that “performance for stickers” into our adulthood faith leaving our hearts empty while we focus on our outside appearance and behavior. That is exactly the opposite of what God intends because He is way more concerned with our inside hearts than our outside appearances.
That sermon message made my previous fears, doubts and concerns seem so fickle, small and flacid. While they did consume some of my time and thoughts, I was so grateful that God did not allow them to paralyze me to inaction. I continued to be reminded of 1 John 3:18:
“Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth.”
Post service we reunited with their kids and asked if they would like to join us for an early lunch. Freddy and Sheena were grateful and accepted our invitation. They made a statement that hit me – it was the first time their family had been out to eat a meal in over 2 years. Wow! Something my family and I completely take for granted is a rare occurrence for them. It was humbling and gave me a different perspective that I need to keep as a reminder.
We hit the nearby Cracker Barrel and were greeted with a half hour wait which I assume is normal for that location on a Sunday after a mega-church service concludes. However, it was a great opportunity to hang outside the restaurant where they have all those rocking chairs and checkers for the kids to play with. It also allowed my kids time to interact with their kids. And soon enough, we were seated.
Because we were a party of 10, we couldn’t be seated together. And while I viewed that as an unfortunate disappointment, I believe it was God’s intention. You see, it allowed my three kids to sit with their oldest, the moms and two young boys to sit together, and for Freddy and me to share a meal. So not only did that personal 1 on 1 time provide us the opportunity to get to know them as individuals, it gave me time to minister to Freddy, father to father, husband to husband and my wife time to minister to Sheena, mother to mother, wife to wife. I could not have planned it better and it was another reminder of God’s master plan being so much better than my own plan.
On our way out of Cracker Barrel, we bought each of the kids a small candy and loaded into the Tahoe for the ride back to Wayside Christian Mission while our kids took the other car home. We continued getting to know Freddy and Sheena and encouraged them on their path. It was important that we wind our visit down so Freddy could catch a few hours of sleep before his next job at 2pm. I was impressed and thankful he sacrificed his few hours of sleep so he could be with his family and us at worship. That is his current focus and I am humbled to be able to support and encourage him. So many others in his situation would be wise to follow his courageous lead. So many of society’s problems would be better if folks buckled down, focused, and loved and provided for their family like he is trying to do. It might not be perfect, but it sure beats sitting on your butt collecting a gov’t check while blaming others for the poop you are sitting in.
We’ll see what God has in store for their family and for ours.
…..Dan at aslowerpace dot net