Good News and Better News … September 21st, 2015

 Jonathots Daily Blog

(2699)

Tomah

Many years ago, I sensed a voice within me, encouraging me to go out and share my heart and abilities with the world. Some people would say it was the voice of God, while others would probably insist that it was just me, declaring my own bidding.

I don’t care.

I heeded the call, and that decision has taken me on an exotic adventure.

I was so proud. I finally got it right.

I spent the week misspelling the name of the town we were headed for our next gig. It was Tomah, Wisconsin, but I kept trying to move the “h” up next to the “t”–forming “Thoma.”

Try as I might, I apparently had placed a crease in my brain to prefer the premature h. But when I arrived in town and was jotting down a note or two for the upcoming presentation, I actually spelled it correctly.

Let me get back to that.

The people sent to greet us and assist us in setting up for the performance were Mary and Paul. Lovely folks.

You see, the key to hospitality is realizing that the quality of our being is not assessed on how well we treat ourselves or our families, but rather, on the profile we select in caring for strangers. (Strangers scare us. That’s why we emphasize it with the word “strange.”)

But Mary and Paul relaxed, so did we, and in no time at all it seemed like this was our eighth barbecue together instead of first conversation.

When it came time for Sunday morning, I arrived at a church whose pastor had recently suffered two strokes. I was saddened by this for a pair of reasons:

Number one, it is the responsibility of every human being to temporarily take on the pain of others to bring the reality to bear of the need for prayer.

Secondly, the lady who books us said that the pastor was a delightful, loving, giving and warm-hearted man. The Kingdom cannot afford to lose such a valuable creature.

In his stead was another fellow, who was formerly the pastor of the church, who kindly, gently and ably was filling in during the absence of the ailing shepherd.

How do I describe my experience with the Tomah people?

First and foremost, delightful. I do like people.

I like them when they’re difficult because it presents me with a challenge.

I like them when they’re easy because then I don’t have to survive a challenge and we can get to the business of just enjoying one another.

The two services were filled with great emotional moments. Emotion is our fuel:

  • If it’s a football game, we cheer.
  • If it’s a sudden burst of finance…well, we also cheer.
  • But if we’re in church and we realize how good our life is, how blessed we are, or how we were spared a disgrace or indignity, we tend to sit, bewildered by what to do.

You see, that brings me back to my situation with the spelling of Tomah. There apparently was some stubborn part of me that wanted Tomah to be spelled the way I proposed. Even though I was incorrect, I felt right enough to continue to be wrong without apology.

Yes, there was much good news at the Tomah church, but I can offer them better news, and here it is:

Blessing arrives in tiny bites which need to be appreciated, or you will never experience the satisfaction of a full meal.

Church was never intended to be a place where we come and tiptoe around, attempting to find the will of God.

After all, church is not for God. It’s for us.

It is a sanctuary.

It is a place where we come to escape debates, anger, shootings, frustration, foolishness, politics and threats that surround us all week long, in a world that seems determined to self-destruct.

We need a place where we can lounge in the confidence of the love of those around us, while celebrating the bites of truth that are gradually coming into the vision of our understanding.

So don’t tell me your denomination doesn’t get emotional when your denomination is filled with people–and people are emotional.

I don’t care how you do it. I don’t care what kind of music you use as background to your decision to feel.

But when you leave a church, you should sense that you’ve been uplifted and touched in your heart.

That’s what I tried to bring to Tomah. Were they listening? Well, honestly, that’s not my business.

Just like it was not my job to change how they spelled their town.

 

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