It’s eleven o’clock on Sunday morning, I’m sitting in my kitchen with a hot cup of coffee. I should be in church, but it was cancelled on account of snow. Through the kitchen window I can see my husband walking our dogs, who seem to be amazed by the fresh snow on the ground. It’s a nice morning, but I was looking forward to church… You see, I’m a new Christian, so I’m still navigating the waters… Which leaves me pondering an important question; “What kind of Christian do I want to be?”
I’ve had many memorable experiences with church throughout my life, and sadly some of them have been bad. However, those experiences have helped me become the Christian I am today. So, in this post I am going to share three of my experiences with you, along with the realizations they helped me arrive at. All of these experiences have helped me answer one essential question; “What kind of Christian do I want to be?”
EXPERIENCE 1: “The Communion Cracker Conundrum”
A few years ago I was searching for a church to call home. I visited a variety of churches, but one experience in particular stands out in my mind. The building was glorious, the sanctuary was two stories, and the congregation was huge. I hadn’t visited many churches with two stories, so I took advantage of the opportunity to sit upstairs during the service.
After the sermon the preacher announced that it was time for communion; I watched from the balcony as the younger deacons walked to the front of the sanctuary. They each picked up a tray of crackers, and began carefully distributing them to their assigned pews. Then it happened; one of the first-floor deacons tripped and fell. As he fell his metal tray clanged loudly against the ground, drawing attention, and sending crackers flying all over the aisle. The young man quickly and apologetically jumped to his feet. He was red-faced and clearly embarrassed as he frantically collected the spilled crackers from the ground.
I sat there, in my second-floor balcony seat, and watched all of this happen… and I noticed something that I will never forget; no one, not one single person, moved from their seat to help him. As a matter of fact, the cracker-less section began to grow frustrated with him, loudly “shewing”, and shaking their heads. Then, I watched from the balcony as the young boy stood up, carried the tray of dirty crackers to the front of the sanctuary, and began fidgeting with what I assumed to be new crackers… Meanwhile, the wine/grape juice trays had been passed around by the older deacons, and the unaware preacher announced that he would soon be reading the communion passage from Luke 22:19-20…
I fixed my eyes back on the cracker-less section of the congregation, and I saw a young woman – probably the same age as me – turn, angrily, to someone in the pew behind her and say; “well, we can’t, we don’t have bread, he needs to us bring more quick.”
Luckily, the young man made it back to his section with new crackers just in time, communion was taken, church was dismissed, and I walked to my car… but I didn’t drive away. I sat there for what seemed like a long time… I just kept asking myself; “Why didn’t anyone get up to help him?”, “Why didn’t YOU get up and walk downstairs to help him?” I felt sick, and so angry with myself… and so disappointed in all my fellow church-goers who watched it happen and didn’t help. To this day, I’m still mad at myself for not helping him…
This experience helped me come to my first realization;
REALIZATION 1: “I want to be a Christian that has living, thriving, and working faith.”
James 2:14-17 reads – What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
EXPERIENCE 2: “The Father’s Day Motorcycle Inferno”
This story takes place on Father’s Day, the year after my husband and I got married. We had just finished visiting one of our fathers, and were on the way to the other father’s house. We were driving on a winding country road when we saw something that was hard to believe; there was a motorcycle sitting in the driveway of a small home, the motorcycle was running and it was on fire. Seriously, yard-high flames were coming from the motorcycle, and it was only 30-feet away from the house…
In a panic my husband pulled into the parking lot of a church, and we both jumped out of the car. Of course, there was no cellphone service – country roads, you know. So I shouted to a group of people in the church parking lot; “Call the fire department before the house catches fire!” I watched, in confusion, as everyone in the church parking lot stared at me like I was insane. I inquired; “Is anyone inside the house?” To which an older man replied; “Yes, but I wouldn’t try to help, that guy has been letting the bike run all day, he probably did this on purpose.”
My husband took off in a mad dash toward the far-end of the house… I looked back at the people in the parking lot, yelled “call the fire department” and ran after my husband. As I ran toward the far-end of the house I saw a man run out the side door with a large bowl of water, he threw the water on the motorcycle and ran back inside… he didn’t even notice me. I ran to the door that I saw my husband go in, and followed suit. That’s when I saw that my husband and the man’s family had created a water assembly-line with Tupperware containers, vases, and whatever else they could find… Eventually, after a lot of effort, time, and bowls of water the fire was extinguished.
When all was said and done we stood in the yard with the man, his wife, and their small child… I looked across the street and saw that all the people were still standing in the church parking lot. The fire department never showed up.
I was absolutely dumbfounded. A group of church-goers, standing in a church parking lot, passing judgment and refusing to help someone in need…
This experience helped me come to my second realization;
REALIZATION 2: “I want to be a Christian that loves my neighbor.”
Luke 10:27, the Parable of the Good Samaritan reads – Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind; and, Love your neighbor as yourself.
EXPERIENCE 3: “The Bible Study Juxtaposition”
I was in college, and I adopted a dog, which meant I had to move out of the scholarship-paid dorms and into an apartment – an apartment which I had to pay for. So, I got my first real job waiting tables at a breakfast diner. This particular story takes place on a Sunday night, when I was finishing up a double-shift. There were two hours left before closing-time when a group of seven women, a little older than me, came in and requested that three tables be pushed together. I was happy to oblige their request. I asked if more people would be joining them, and they said “no”, that they simply liked the extra space, which was fine by me.
They ate dinner, then ordered dessert with coffee. The restaurant was one hour from closing-time when I delivered dessert to their table and asked how they would like their checks; “all separate”, they said… But then they made a really odd request, they asked if I would bring a clean rag and wipe the table off for them once they were done with dessert. I said “yes”, and went to the wash room to get a clean towel.
I waited until all the women were done eating before I walked to their table with the clean towel and a fresh pot of coffee. I collected the dessert plates, freshened up a few coffees, cleaned the table, and asked if anyone would like a coffee to-go. They replied, “nothing to-go, we’ll be staying a while.” I smiled, nodded, and walked off to check what time it was… 30 minutes till close. I had a few other customers, so I tended to them… 20 minutes till close. I walked back to the table with the women and asked if I could get them anything… They said “no”, and told me that they were about to start a Bible Study. I watched as they pulled out their Bibles and opened them on the table, I kindly nodded, reminded them of closing time, and walked off… 10 minutes till close. Then I started doing all the jobs a waitress is supposed to do at closing time; filling up salt and pepper, rolling silverware in napkins, etc… I also took their checks to the cashier so he could account for all the money in the register at closing time.
10 minutes after closing-time I approached the table again and told the women that the restaurant was closed… they asked how much more work I had to do that night, I kindly told them that I had to clean their tables, move them back, and vacuum my section. They told me that my vacuuming wouldn’t bother them, and that I could just vacuum around them. I told them that I was scared that would be rude of me, and told them they could sit at some clean tables in another section while I cleaned their area. I swept the carpet with a broom instead of vacuuming, I was afraid the vacuum would be too loud…45 minutes after closing.
I approached the table, took a deep breath, kindly apologized, and told the women that I had a test in the morning and really needed to leave so I could study – which was absolutely true (and I did awesome on that test, by the way). The women prayed, packed their things, and I walked them to the door… They all said “thank you”, one woman hugged me, and they left… 1 hour and 10 minutes after closing.
I walked to the table I had moved them too, picked up their receipts and saw that no one left a credit tip, I scanned the half-empty coffee cups left on the table and noticed 40 dollars folded under one. I was so excited. I grabbed the forty dollars, put it in my pocket, took the coffee cups to the kitchen and left.
When I got home I took my dog for a walk, told her about my day, and sat down on my couch to sort my tips. I pulled out the folded 40 dollars that the women had left for me, I unfolded it, and was absolutely shocked by what I found… It wasn’t real money… It was two fake 20 dollar bills with Bible devotionals scribbled inside of them. At this point it was almost 2:00am, I hadn’t studied for my exam yet, and I felt absolutely defeated.
The Bible Study women had given me FAKE MONEY with a devotional on it… I was so angry, how was I gonna buy dog food and pay my rent with a devotional? Why would they do this to me? If they were concerned with my eternal soul, why didn’t they ask me if I was saved? They never once tried to talk to me about Jesus. They didn’t ask me if I went to church. I mean, they spent over 3 hours with me… If they wanted to spread the gospel, then why didn’t they speak to me? Why did they stiff me on a tip? I’m not sure I’ll ever understand…
This experience helped me arrive at my third realization;
REALIZATION 3: “I want to be a Christian that shares the gospel.”
Psalm 105:1-4 reads – Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always. Give praise to the Lord, proclaim his name; make known among the nations what he has done. Sing to him, sing praise to him; tell of all his wonderful acts. Glory in his holy name; let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice.
I’m not finished becoming the Christian I want to be… and I will hopefully never be finished. God willing, I will learn and grow everyday… but these experiences definitely helped me along.
These experiences helped me realize that I want to be a Christian that has living, thriving, and working faith, loves my neighbor, and shares the gospel… but, oh, there is so much more as well.
Sincerely, The Uncustomary Housewife