Monday, January 20, 2014

Meet Chris

Our church offers four services on the weekend, one on Saturday night and three more on Sunday.  They are all the same.  Same songs.  Same sermon.  There’s no need to attend more than once.

And yet, on the weekends when Cheryl and I attend on Saturday evening, I wake up feeling a little guilty the next day.  It’s Sunday, and I’m not going to church. 
So, one Sunday morning, I assuage my guilt and tune in to a “live” internet church service.  Before the sermon, an inspirational video comes on the screen.  I settle in with my cup of coffee.

Now, I don’t know if you’re like me, but I’ve seen a good number of these short Christian films.  They usually go something like this: 1) the person has a problem; 2) he/she gives it over to God; 3) God fixes the problem; 4) the person goes on to do amazing things for God and the world.

This video seems to be no exception.

Meet Chris.
He’s good-looking and has an extremely cool New Zealand accent.
One day, Chris goes off to a medical appointment and is diagnosed with cancer.  He’s given six months to live.
Chris is stunned and decides to renew his boyhood commitment to the Lord.
This sustains him for the next two years.  He’s alive and appears strong.
My mind begins to predict:  1) Chris beats cancer by the power of God, and 2) he devotes the rest of his life to helping cancer survivors.

The camera focuses in on Chris.  He talks about spending time drawing closer to God.  Then scenes come up of Chris walking hand in hand with his wife and playing with his children in the driveway.  Then back to Chris who’s talking more about growing deeper in his relationship with God. 
And, with that, the video ends.
The lights come up and a minister walks out on the internet church stage and says, “Sadly, Chris passed away last summer.  We miss him.”
Wait a minute, I think, what about Chris doing something big or important with his life?  Where’s that part?

Wait a minute … 


No, the Lord has told us what is good.  What he requires of us is this: to do what is just, to show constant love, and to live in humble fellowship with our God. – Micah 6:8 (Good News Translation)

Sunday, January 5, 2014

An airport prayer

A few weeks ago, I stopped for lunch in the Charlotte Airport.

I decided to grab some barbeque and noticed a mix of “low” tables and “high” tables in the dining area.  All of the low ones were full, so I made my way over to a high one.  (I do hate the tall tables.  My feet dangle from the chair, and I always have trouble scooching closer to my food.)

I was a few bites into my meal, when a middle-aged woman—seated at a table to my left—leaned over and said, “Are you beginning your journey or ending your journey?”

I assumed that she was not asking a philosophical question, so I said, “I’m in the middle” (which, now that I think of it, would have nailed the philosophical question as well).

She then began telling me about how she was flying back to California after visiting her college-aged son in North Carolina.  I nodded and said that I was heading back to DC, and we exchanged a few pleasantries.  In the course of this normal stranger-in-an-airport conversation, I asked the lady what she did for a living.  She paused and said, “I pray.”

Yes, that’s what she said.

She told me that she was a full-time pray-er.  That she, and a group of people she associated with, traveled around the country and prayed at different locations.  They prayed at state capitals.  They prayed at U.S. borders.  They even prayed over electrical grids.

They did an awful lot of praying.

And I admit, there was a part of me that thought this conversation had taken a strange turn.  But there was an even bigger part of me—the part of me that I like—that thought this was intriguing.  I was sitting across from a woman who prayed more in a week than I did in 6 months.  You could tell there was something special about her, a groundedness or something.  So I kept listening and threw in an occasional amen.  (“Amen” being code for I-pray-too-and-approve-of-what-you-do.)

At the end of our conversation—and my barbeque and fixin's—the lady asked me if there was something specifically I’d like her to pray for.  I thought for a second and said, “Would you pray that I win the Mega Millions lottery?”

I’m kidding.

When you have a full-time pray-er who’s ready to go to bat for you … well, you don’t mess around.

So I shared something personal, and she said she’d start praying as soon as I left the table.  With that said, I gathered up my backpack and lunch trash and headed down to Terminal E … 

… with the warmth of a full-time pray-er’s words still in my ears.