Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Shopping (03/01/07)
TITLE: Church Bizarre, or Shopping For Purpose
By Sandra Petersen
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Time for a change. I decided to shop around.
I have always gone to church. I know that purpose in life somehow is tied up in religious expression. Maybe, I thought, I am focusing on the wrong things. That is why I am here: to find something at this church bazaar that will restore passion and purpose to my life.
The first booth holds some promise. The multitude of programs this group juggles every day of the week would be worth exploring. From the Family Bible Study and Breakfast to youth basketball to the Softball League, a young family would be kept busy and probably happy. The placard promises ‘a seeker-friendly family experience.’ Too bad I’m single and without children.
I wander to the next table.
An attractive display. My eyes sweep the stand-up bulletin board and brochures advertising various social issues this group addresses. They certainly seem to be community-minded with their door-to-door volunteer recycling pick-up program and their ‘Get-Out-the-Vote’ information. No matter how worthwhile the issue, I know my days are too full to take on any of these activities.
A jazzy rock beat beckons me. I listen and walk until I find the group to which the music belongs. ‘Contemporary Worship Services-No Hymns Here’ the banner above the table proclaims. I am tempted to stay and listen, perhaps even dance, but I know from experience this too shall grow old and fade with time.
‘Singles Welcome’ declares the next sign. A drop-dead, good-looking guy with dazzling teeth and a golden tan flashes me a smile.
“Can I help you find what you’re looking for?” he asks.
He seems sincere but I shake my head no. I tried a Christian singles dating service some time ago. From that, I know this, too, will not fulfill me.
I wander past table after table, each ministry promising something, but none offering lasting contentment. A verse from the Bible resounds unbidden in my mind: "Vanities of vanity, all is vanity." *
My head swims with the myriad of choices. In my heart I sense none of these are what I am seeking. Maybe I will leave without finding it.
Then I notice Him. I suppose I have been cognizant of His attentive gaze all along. Until now I chose to ignore it. He beckons me with calloused and scarred hands. The table He stands behind has nothing but a loaf of bread and a cup with wine. No programs, brochures, or music. The simplicity startles me; His smile disarms me. I draw near with a trembling heart.
“I have been waiting for you.” His voice is like the murmur of ancient seas, like a gentle whisper in the midst of a tempest. I know somehow I was searching for this.
“How long?” I ask, my voice shaky.
His eyes pierce me to the marrow of my bones. Every unworthy thought, every wrong deed, comes to the surface. I feel naked. Then, just as quickly, all is washed away.
“Ever since you were formed in your mother’s womb. Until you grew weary of all that does not satisfy.”
This knowledge is too precious for me to bear. He knew of my search and yet He didn’t force me to come to Him. He allowed me to choose.
I swallow and stammer, “How much do I owe you for this?”
He smiles again and shakes his head. “God’s gift is always freely given. Will you accept it?”
I nod, tears filling my eyes.
The loaf is in His hands now and He breaks it and gives some to me. In the same manner, He offers the cup. We commune together and I know my search for purpose is over.
* Ecclesiastes 1:2 (NKJV)
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