The preacher’s words had become a dull, droning hum in the background of his thoughts as he plotted the rest of his day, afternoon and evening.  If he was lucky, if things went according to plan (as they almost never did) he could finish the lawn right after church, eat a quick lunch and be out to the lake by 2:00.  There, if things went right (and it was the lake so even if they didn’t, well, you were still at the lake) they could find a bay somewhere away from the crowd and the nut cases, sip a few cold ones and float in the water.  Yeah, it could be a great day.

“That’s why today, this afternoon at 1:30 we’re taking a team of volunteers down to the homes by the river affected by the floods.  Those people need our help.  They’re without power, without water and their houses are a mess with mud and dirty water.  Jim Aden is organizing the group so please meet him after the service.”

An elbow slyly prodded his side.  He looked to his left although he knew what he would see.

She was looking at him with that “You should do that” gaze.

“I have the lawn and hopefully the lake in mind for today” he whispered back to her through what he hoped weren’t clenched teeth.

She gave him the “Really?” look.  He hated the ‘really’ look.  He knew he had no come-back; he’d tried.

In the past he’d tried the shoulder shrug, the stern ‘no’ headshake and the eye roll up and to the right that clearly said, “What am I going to do?  That’s not up my alley.”  Nothing was effective in beating back the ‘really’ look.  He had to resort to the after-church refusal, which always meant an icy ride home and an even chillier afternoon.  He knew he could forget about any Sunday night close drill.  That would be out of the question.  The preacher interrupted his thought patterns and tactical analysis as he so often did.

“Everywhere in the bible Jesus talks about giving up our own lives for him.  In Luke 17:33 he says, “Whoever seeks to preserve his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life will keep it.”  “Later in John 12:25 he says, “Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will keep it for eternal life.”  See Jesus was a guy who wanted more for us, more than this world had to offer, more than we could, in our own self-centered plans, understand.  He wanted us to go beyond what this world said we could be and be something completely new and wholly awesome.  Paul may have said this best when he wrote to the church in Corinth after Jesus’s death, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come.”  And I can’t imagine a more joyous and wonderful way to be than a new creation in Christ.  So let us pray.”

He dared not close his eyes as he bowed his head.  He knew the feelings and the nudges and the sense of something larger than himself would come upon him.  That had happened before too.  It was always a crapshoot when the “Amen” came whether he chose the icy route or the regretful route of giving up his plans, his ideas and his wants.  And why should he?  He didn’t get much time to himself any longer.

Saturdays were anything but restful with soccer and t-ball and errands and trying to put the house together after five days of neglect.  Where did it end?  How were you supposed to recharge your batteries?  There had to be some time he could call his own, right?  Wasn’t that what floating on the water, cold one in hand, just kicking back without a care for a few hours was all about?  Wasn’t he supposed to be happy?  Didn’t God want that for him?  The “amen” came before he got very far down that mental path.

“Thank you all for coming, it’s so great to see you here every Sunday.  And please remember to see Jim after worship about helping those families out.  Keep in mind, Jesus said in the book of Mark chapter 8 verse 35, “For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it.”  Today… today is a good day to save your life.”

He sat in his chair as she got up and visited with Vivian in front of them.  For no particular reason he just…lingered.  Then, again for reasons he couldn’t put his finger on and wouldn’t appreciate for months he stood up and went looking for Jim.

There’s all kinds of dying.  Sometimes it turns out, it’s a good thing.

I hope you liked this one, I enjoyed writing it even if I’ve sat in this guy’s chair before.  If you want to read more of my writing, click this to go to my blog’s home page.  And if you like what you read there you can subscribe for free.  Subscribing means you’ll receive an email on Sundays with links to my posts for the week.  You can subscribe right here by clicking here.