Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: At the Pulpit (11/15/07)
TITLE: The Benefits Plan
By Maxine Holmgren
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I looked out from behind the pulpit at my congregation. Was I getting across to them? Was anyone listening? The sea of faces stared back at me through glazed eyes.
There was a little fidgeting going on, normal as the service moved towards it’s conclusion.
I had started out with such enthusiasm and love for the Lord. But five years of budgets, council meetings, personality conflicts and church politics had doused the flames of spiritual passion. I wondered if anything I said or did had any impression at all on anyone.
I retreated to my office after the service. My office. I had been so thrilled with it when I first came to this church. I would be the great counselor, the profound teacher, the gifted preacher. Who knew, perhaps we would become one of those mega churches. Anything was possible, wasn’t it?
But, apparently, that was not God’s plan for me. Maybe I wasn’t cut out to be a preacher after all. Where were the salvations, the changed lives, the church growth?
I worked with the youth group, I had spent hours with Tommy, yet he still got into trouble and was now on probation. I did marriage counseling, and Bob still left Amy and the kids. I started support groups, and though they were well attended, nothing changed.
The poor were still poor, the hungry still hungry, and the homeless still homeless.
I buried my head in my hands. It’s too much. I just can’t do it anymore. My brother-in- law had offered me a job in his company. It had good pay and good benefits.
I opened my desk drawer and took out the paper I’d been working on. It was the announcement of my resignation as Pastor.
There was a knock at the door. A pretty young woman opened the door slightly. “Pastor, do you have time to see me for a moment?”
I nodded and motioned for her to come in. “You don’t’ remember me, do you?” she asked.
I studied her face. “You do look vaguely familiar,” I began, “but I meet so many people. Please forgive me.”
She laughed. “I don’t blame you. It was three years ago, Pastor. And I’m sure I looked a lot different. My face was probably tear stained, and my eyes puffy from crying the last time I saw you.”
“I ‘m afraid I still don’t recall.”
“I came to you as a pregnant teenager. I didn’t know what to do. I thought if I came to the Crisis Pregnancy center you started at the church that I would find some options. I was hoping I’d find out about abortions, because that’s what I wanted.
. “You encouraged me and told me about Jesus. You led me to accept him as my Lord and Savior, and explained how much He loved me. You showed me in the Bible where it said that He cared for me, and that He had a plan for my life and for the life of that little baby growing inside of me. You made me see that having a baby wasn’t the end of my life, but could be the beginning of a new life.”
“Yes, the Pregnancy Center,.” I recalled now.
“Pastor, there’s someone I’d like you to meet.” She stepped out of the office for a moment, and returned carrying a curly headed toddler. “This is Samantha, the baby I almost didn’t have. “
“I named her after you, Pastor Sam. It seemed the right thing to do. You made such a difference in our lives. It hasn’t been easy, but I’m so glad I’ve been able to keep my baby.”
After she and Samantha left, I picked up the resignation paper again. All I had to do was sign it. I tore it in half instead. My brother-in- law would be disappointed, but he’d have to find someone else to take that good paying job with the benefits. The benefits I had with this job just couldn’t be beat!
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