My friend Frank likes to talk about throwing things out to the universe to see what happens. I used to mock this particular expression, viewing it as a less than godly view of how the world works. But lately it has occurred to me that God spoke the entire universe into existence. Therefore, if I throw something out to the universe, aren’t I really throwing it out to God? Perhaps throwing things out to the universe is a good way to test the truth or validity of our beliefs, in essence treating our viewpoints, our opinions, yes even our doctrine as boomerangs. If it is true, it will stand the test of time. If it is true, when I throw it out to the universe, it will return to me, essentially unchanged.
There have been times when I have thought out loud and shared with my Pastor various comments that people make to me, some of which I have received as outrageous. He has replied rather tongue and cheek, “Do you suppose that could be the voice of God?” Well, no I do not! I find myself insisting. But wait … dare I put limits on how God’s voice can come to me? Perhaps I should throw those comments out to the universe and see if they come back again?
Sometimes other people throw their boomerangs out to the universe, only to have it return and smack you soundly on the noggin. We were talking today in Sunday school about St. Francis of Assisi. Francis’ father did not support his journey into the priesthood. In fact, he was so outraged by Francis’ decision and practice of giving away all of what he viewed as HIS possessions, he sued his son; threw him in jail; and was known to curse him on the street if their path’s crossed. Did the reaction of Francis’ father serve to discourage him in his faith or increase his resolve? I’m voting for the latter.
I think few of us have experienced rejection of or challenge to our faith on the same level of St. Francis of Assisi. However, I conjectured that when others oppose us, it helps us to better understand what we do and don’t believe. In the process of defending our faith, our ideals, our theories to others, we find it better defined; better framed in our own minds.
There’s that boomerang … throwing it out and boom, back it comes.
At times, there is much consternation about the “disturbance” caused by the 50+ women who attend our church’s celebration service. It seems that they have the audacity to get up while the minister is preaching, open coke cans during prayer and traipse in and out of a certain door that leads to a coke machine down the hall. In truth, I find myself disturbed and distracted at times; but probably more because I am imagining the likely reaction of the Pharisees around me. I have been told that we must lay down the law and make sure the ladies know the rules for church. It has also been suggested that instead of calling them rules, we call them “guidelines for experiencing worship.” Somewhere between these two extremes, there is a practice that will maintain a feeling of sanctuary, love and acceptance among all the flawed humanity in the room (and guess what, that includes every single one of us!)
Today, in a service that probably encompassed 130 people, 3 women were baptized, 3 babies were baptized and 2 women renewed their baptismal vows (we call that reaffirmation). I find myself applying a theory my brother uses in life called “Conservation of sh**.” Yes, I know, not a very godly term to be used in this context, but the idea is that everyone or everything comes with a certain amount of baggage. If you can learn to navigate through and accept the sh**, focusing on the good stuff, then you will find yourself happy and blessed indeed.
So it occurred to me today … I can put up with a lot of well-meaning comments from the Pharisees; a lot of coke tops popping; a lot of doors opening and closing during worship; a lot of women sneaking off to smoke a cigarette when they’re not supposed to be smoking a cigarette if I can have a regular demonstration like today of Jesus Christ transforming hearts and lives.
I can remember years (yes, years) when a single person did not come to Christ during our worship services. Now, every week, three, four, five, six miracles, but some are missing it because of the “noises” around them.
I told someone today, “The next time you hear a coke top pop during church, tell yourself, ‘That’s another soul claimed by Christ.’
Well, it seems I have drifted away from my original train of thought. I started out talking about throwing truths out to the universe and ended up reiterating my vision and passion for our church’s outreach ministries.
Or maybe I didn’t drift quite so far after all.
I see that as I throw this ministry out to the universe, darned if it doesn’t keep returning to my hand. God is accomplishing something pretty amazing. Sometimes with me and sometimes in spite of me. That’s a truth I don’t soon want to forget.