Oh I realize there are some eyesores along the way, but they pale in comparison to what borders the multiple lane corridors of excessive speed. The two lane roads are the way to travel. I'm convinced of that.
As such, I'd left the day before the event in which I'd been invited to speak. It was something I looked forward to. After all, when one's invited back to a place where one has preached before, one cannot help but be somewhat flattered. It's something you'd like to tell your skeptical cousins about. Maybe I was just eager to get there; maybe I wanted time to meander those back roads. Whichever, I got there the night before, checked into a comfortable inn, enjoyed a delicious dinner, watched a little TV, and turned in early.
I was scheduled to speak first at a luncheon and that evening at the closing service. I spoke. Folks had some nice things to say. I felt good.
I skipped the afternoon business session and found myself sipping on a Sprite as I sat on a garden bench under the shade of a pecan tree. The Sprite was about gone when she approached.
“I know you,” she said.
“You do?” I replied. “How do you know me?”
“You baptized me when I was a baby.”
“You remember that?”
“Well, no, but my Mom told me you did.”
“Who's your Mom?” I asked.
She told me. I remembered her. Gracious, I'm getting old; I not only had baptized this child; I had also baptized her mother.
“So, your Mom still goes to church here?”
“No, sir,” she said. “We don't go to church now. She just came to this thing because you were preaching.”
“Do you mind if I ask you a question?”
“Why don't you folks go to church?”
She sat down on the bench beside me. “I think we don't go because we got really busy. You know, I have ball games and Mom and Dad have a lot of things to do. You know what I think?”
“What do you think?”
“I think the church needs to stop being so church. I mean, the church is songs and prayers and sermons by people like you. And I know my Mom likes you, but, well, you know all those people in there.” She pointed to the Family Life Center where everyone was gathered. “After you preach tonight everyone will go home and do what they always do. Now what I think is this: the church ought to make a difference. Do you know what I mean?”
“I do know what you mean,” I confessed. “Do you know how we can fix it?”
“No, sir, I don't. But the same old stuff isn't working. People are too busy for this same old stuff.”
I drove home that night a more humble than when I arrived.