Kelly never misses church. At our own church, she is the self-appointed greeter. She doesn’t miss anybody. If she has already settled down for the service, then hears someone else come in, she quietly goes to greet them.
Sometimes she has already settled on the floor in our pew before I go to the front to serve as liturgist. If she appears to be asleep, I just leave her there. Or if she is enjoying the company of young people who usually sit with us, I may tell her to stay and leave her.
That usually works well but sometimes she wakens and discovers I’m not there. Then she may quietly slip out and come looking for me. She knows where to find me, so she meanders down the side aisle, comes to the platform and lies down. Our own congregation simply smiles and the service is not disrupted at all.
Now, I’ve told you this before, I’m sure, in bits and pieces at least. So why repeat it now?
Well, for the past two Sundays, Kelly and I have been serving in two churches other than our own. It’s been interesting.
The first Sunday, we knew only a few people in the first church and no one at all in the second. I think both of us were a bit more reserved than usual. After all, stepping into a strange church, leading worship, and bringing the message is a serious responsibility – one I’ve done frequently, but I never take that task lightly. That very day could be someone’s last opportunity to choose eternal life. It’s an awesome responsibility.
The second Sunday in these two churches we were both more relaxed. Kelly dropped into her “at home” routine of greeting people. Later, on the platform with me, she simply lay down and apparently slept. (Not a very good example to the congregation, was it?)
That Sunday, I offered to give the children’s message, too, because I wanted them to get to know Kelly. In the first church, there was only one little girl present. Not quite four years old, she didn’t want to come forward. I said, “Well, we’ll just go on with the service. I was going to tell the children about Kelly.” But skipping that part of the service was not acceptable at all because the adults wanted to hear the children’s message! So I did that, too.
In the second church, I did give the children’s message as planned and held the adults’ attention as much as the children’s. There is truly a message in it, too – that failing at something doesn’t mean we are worthless. Failure simply means we have to go to Plan B even if there hadn’t been a Plan B originally – that sometimes failure leads to even better things than we could imagine. School age children relate well to this.
After the service, an adult worshiper waited until I was free. She appeared to be a person who succeeded well in life, but she told me, “I was fired from my job – in nursing!”
It was politics – she had, figuratively, stepped on someone’s toes, the someone being the Director of Nursing, and it had cost her job.
But God had other plans for her. After drying her tears and putting her life back together, she entered a Nurse Practitioner program. After the tough 2-year program, done mostly on-line, she is now a Psych Nurse Practitioner – a position far above anything she had dreamed of prior to being fired. She was praising God for His leading and provision.
This conversation came about because of the children’s message – because I openly shared that both Kelly and I had failed at some critical test and as a result are now in a rewarding ministry volunteering in a nursing home.
We can’t see the end from the beginning like God does, but we rest assured He has only His very best in store for us if we dare to trust and follow Him. Get out your Bible and read Jeremiah 29:11 to be reminded of His best intentions for you, for each of us. The NIV or New Living Translation says it so plainly.