Last week, for a change of scenery, the Good Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly spent a few days at the beach. We had some soon-to-expire coupons we needed to cash in.
One of the few things we did during our "down" time was watch some television. In watching some programs, I began realizing just how behind the times I really was on some subjects.
For example, if I knew just how bad some of the singing was in this country I may have gone into music as a career. I'm referring to the television show, American Idol.
The thing I have never been able to understand is why some people insist on trying to do what they cannot do? Like sing, for example.
Years ago a young man in one of our churches thought he could sing. His name was Larry and I shall never forget him - although I have often tried.
Larry was an excellent usher. He seemed to have the knack of greeting people and taking them to their seat. I had many compliments from visitors about Larry's ushering skills.
The only problem with ushering was Larry did not like ushering. For some reason he believed he could sing and was wasting his time ushering.
I heard him sing and believe me, he could not sing. In spite of this, hardly a week went by but Larry asked about singing a solo in church.
I did everything I could think of to dodge the subject, but eventually ran out of ideas and the inevitable became evitable. I thought if I was careful I could have Larry sing on a Sunday that would do the least amount of damage.
I picked a holiday weekend when I felt most people would be out of town, and informed Larry he could sing. As excited as he was about this, he refused to rehearse.
Of course, my opinion reflected the thought that no amount of rehearsal would improve his performance.
The fateful Sunday finally came and true to form, many of the congregation were out of town for the weekend. I somehow felt little damage could be done and was a wee bit proud of my prowess in this regard.
The worship service started and I felt good about having a handle on what was going to happen. My euphoria only lasted a few moments. God has a wonderful way of dealing with a person's pride, especially mine.
Just as the worship service commenced, two visitors walked into the sanctuary. I had never seen this couple before and had no idea who they were, nor why they were in our church this particular Sunday.
Under the circumstances I tried to think of some way to circumvent Larry's solo-but nothing short of murder came to mind. Also, there was no way to ignore or forget the solo.
I don't know if it was the moment or me, but when Larry sang his Sunday morning solo it sounded worse than I ever imagined. I sat on the platform and glued a smile on my face while the inside of me simply died a thousand deaths. I was afraid to glance over at our visitors.
Somehow we, meaning in particular, I, got through the ordeal. I can't remember the sermon. In fact, I probably didn't know what I was preaching as I was preaching.
After the service, I went to the back of the church building to greet those leaving. The visitors came up to me and warmly shook my hand. I didn't know what to expect.
"This was the nicest worship service we've attended in a long time. I particularly enjoyed the young man's solo."
At first I thought he was joking and then he added, "When many are looking for technical perfection, it's nice to see a pastor who has a heart for people."
I was stunned but the best was yet to come.
"Here is something I want to give to the church. I'm sure you can use it." With that, he handed me an envelope, which, as it turned out, was full of cash.
There was no name on the envelope and we never did discover the identity of our visitors. At the time, the church had a real financial need and we did not know how we were going to meet it.
When the treasurer and I counted the money in the envelope, it was a few dollars over the financial need we had at the moment. Every once in a while we would receive an anonymous envelope with some cash enclosed and always at the right time.
An interesting aspect of this story is Larry never asked to sing in church again. He served most admirably as usher and always with a huge smile.
God not only has His way of doing things, He also has His people strategically placed for His purpose.
"For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence." (1 Corinthians 1:26-29 KJV.)
God uses anyone when it brings Him glory.
The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road in Silver Springs Shores. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores and can be contacted by calling 687-4240. Rev. Snyder's new book, "Romance Around a Parsonage Fireplace," is now available. Call for details. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. The church web site is:
I thoroughly enjoyed this. If you read something and don't enjoy the experience, you have wasted your time and this was time well spent. Also a good lesson. Your style is very easy-going and kept me in anticipation. Keep up the good work and I hope your church prospers for His sake!