Ed had scheduled himself to arrive at the church an hour before the Sunday evening service. Clara, his wife, had starched and ironed his best dress shirt. After slicking back his hair, he added a bolo tie and tan sports coat, birthday presents from his grandchildren. Spit polished cowboy boots completed his outfit. Ed always dressed with special care for his duties at the church.
“My, my,” Clara said admiringly. “You look good enough to be the preacher.”
Ed laughed at such a notion. He couldn’t imagine himself standing in front of the congregation. He was much more comfortable in the back of the church.
Years ago, after he and Clara had taken the new members course, Ed had asked the Lord to find him a ministry. Even though their church was out in the country, hundreds of people drove from neighboring towns to be part of the dynamic fellowship. Ed thought that such a large church would offer plenty of ministry opportunities, even for someone like him.
“Lord, you know that I can’t carry a tune. I’m no preacher, for sure. Just looking in the door of children’s church makes me tired. But there must be something I can do for You in this big ole church.”
“How about ushering?” a friend asked. “Ushers are in demand.”
Ed prayed about this suggestion and seemed to hear the Lord say, “Go for it!”
Ed had been an usher ever since. He loved escorting the members of the congregation to their seats, giving a helping hand to the infirmed and the elderly, keeping an eye out for miscreant children.
Now as the service was about to begin, he uttered his customary prayer, “I know I’m just an usher, Lord, but I surely would appreciate the opportunity to be a blessing to someone tonight.”
In another section of town, two young men were fast becoming bored with their afternoon of bar hopping. The low tax base and room for expansion made this rural area ideal for their employers, but it presented dismal social outlets for them.
“It’s way too early to call it a day,” Tom complained. “Got any ideas for some fun, Jack?”
“Only one,” replied Jack. “I hear there’s a real crazy church around here. One of those holy roller types. How about going over there and checking out the local yokels? It’s a big domed building. No one will ever notice us.”
“I’m bored enough to do it,” sighed Tom.
“We’d better get some breath mints on the way,” Jack cautioned. “Don’t want them smelling any booze on us.”
Jack and Tom were astonished at the friendly welcome they received at the church.
The breath mints must be doing their job, thought Jack. Either that or people were too polite to comment.
Even though he had seldom been in a church, Jack felt at home immediately. The contemporary style of music struck a deep cord within him. The pastor’s message touched his heart and convicted him of his need for Jesus.
Tom, on the other hand, was not impressed. He smirked through the songs and shifted restlessly in this seat through the sermon. All the talk about God and holiness was ridiculous to him. To top it all off, he was appalled that Jack, his best drinking buddy, seemed to be buying such religious nonsense.
As the pastor gave the invitation to receive Christ, both Jack and Tom knew what they wanted to do.
Ed had sized up the two young fellows as they entered the sanctuary and took seats on the back row. He had caught a whiff of something familiar from his own reckless days as a youth. Catching a signal from the Holy Spirit, Ed had prayed for them both throughout the service.
As the final altar call was given, Ed saw one of the young men shake his head in disgust and walk away. But the other stood very still, thoughtful…hesitant.
Ed stepped up from his place at the back of the church and laid a gentle hand on the young man’s shoulder.
“You’ve come a long way, son,” he said. “Do you really want to turn back now?”
“No, I don’t. Thank you, mister,” Jack said gratefully and sprinted to the altar.
Ed served faithfully as an usher all the days of his life. Jack went on to preach to multitudes, leading countless to the Lord.
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