What were your first thoughts this morning?
The big game that’s on this afternoon? What you’re gonna make for sunday dinner? How much you want to stay in bed?
If I’m honest, most Sunday mornings the same thoughts run through my mind. “Ok, what am I gonna wear to church? What are the boys gonna wear? I hope nothing needs to be ironed!”
Getting ready for church, especially when it’s very hot out, always seems like such a chore to me. Do we have sippy cups ready? Why can’t I find any toys that don’t make noise to bring? Is my hair already getting flat from this heat? I love being at church, but the actual getting ready for church, does not always bring out the best in me.
This morning in church, something touched me, and made me realize how blessed I am, that wrinkly clothes, and messy hair are the only “issues” I have to deal with on sunday mornings. Now, before you go getting impressed at how well I must be translating the sermon in my head, let me tell you, it wasn’t the anything the pastor said. It wasn’t the young girl who shared her testimony, or the heartfelt worship time. While those things were all wonderful, I walked away today, with a different outlook because of two people I saw in church.
The first was a lady with two sons. The boys were probably about 6 and 8, and there was no husband/father. The holes in their mis-matched clothes told me that they didn’t have much, and their worn shoes made me quite sure that they had walked to church today.The younger of the boys seemed very well-behaved, and helpful whenever the mother told him to do something. You could tell that he is probably the only helper that his mother has, and when I saw her older son, I realized, this mother needs a lot of help. The older boy really stood out. His hair was a mess, and he was covered in black spots. I don’t know exactly what they were, they looked like moles, and they were all over his face and body. It was obvious that he had some serious mental problems, and was quite violent at times. More than once I saw him hit his mother as she tried to quiet him down. He couldn’t talk, but he would make a squealing noise at times. People in the church turned around from time to time to see what he was doing. Because the family was sitting in the same row as me, I saw when he stood on a chair and jumped off. I saw when he tried to run into the aisle, and I saw when the mother finally walked out. From my seat I could see the boy running his body into the glass door, and his mother trying to make him stop. When she finally got him calmed down, she sat on the steps outside with him, and tried to listen to the sermon.
My heart broke for this woman, all alone with this boy. Of corse he couldn’t help it, and because of how he looked and acted, I’m sure that he has received some dirty looks, and heard some hurtful things. I cannot even imagine what their home life must be like. There aren’t special schools for kids like this boy here. She can’t leave him, I’m sure she doesn’t work, so how is she caring for her family? Where is the father? Did he have enough and leave? All these thoughts were in my head as I watched them.
Not long after the lady walked out, a man in dirty clothes, sitting in a “wheel chair” came to the door with his children. My 2-year-old son (in the picture below, with my grama) recently broke his leg, so I have just learned first hand how difficult it can be to constantly transport someone in a wheel chair. If you live in America, you think a wheel chair looks like this:
If you have been to El Salvador, or any nearby countries, you know it looks like this:
His children, about 14 and 10 years old, struggled as they pushed him up the ramp, and into the church. It wasn’t until he was inside that I noticed one of his tires was not only completely flat, it was almost falling off. No wonder why they got to church so late, I thought, they have probably been pushing him through town like that!
On the way home from church, I began to think about the man who sat next to me on my way back to El Salvador, three weeks ago. He was a Christian, who had been living in the Untied States for about 25 years. Since he spoke english, and was carrying a Bible, I knew it would be good trip home! We talked quite a bit about our faith, and I told him about the work we are doing here, in El Salvador. During our conversation, he said something that really stood out to me. He said, “One thing that breaks my heart, is in the United States, there are people, some in my own family, who don’t go to church, because they don’t feel like it. They make excuses, or say it’s too hard to find time, when all they would have to do is hop in the car and go for about an hour. Then I come over here, and I see people, some very old, some very sick, but they are going to church. They’ll walk far, in this heat, to be there, because they want to be in the presence of their God!” I thought about his words. How true! There are so many times that we think of reasons why we can’t make it to church. “We have company over. I have too much to do. It’s a one day sale. I have to work”…the list goes on and on, when the truth, as much as we might not want to admit it, is we aren’t there, because we found something “better” to do. That lady with her handicap son had every reason to stay home today. “People will stare. My son could cause a scene. We have to walk too far.” I could think of a hundred reasons why she could have skipped church today. Truthfully, they all seem pretty valid to me. I don’t think anyone in the church would fault her for staying home, but she wanted to be there. She wanted her sons to be there. Even if they didn’t understand everything, she wanted them to hear God’s word. What about that man with the wheel chair? “We’re gonna be late, we might as well skip it. My tire is flat, it’s too hard to push. I have nothing clean to wear.” He could have made those excuses, but he didn’t. He still came. His kids still came. They knew pushing him to the church would not be easy, but they did it anyway. Kinda makes all our excuses seem pretty weak. It makes me embarrassed that I worry about what outfit to wear, or what toys to bring, when I should be preparing myself for worship. I should be thinking about fellowship, and glorifying God, not stressing about bad hair days, or if my kids are gonna sit still during church.
A few weeks ago, I read a quote that I liked a lot:
– Corrie Ten Boom