Previous Challenge Entry (Level 4 – Masters)
Topic: CLEAR AS MUD (07/18/19)
- TITLE: Cryptic Messages
By A Mattingly
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Walking across the old, blood-red carpet, I feel the familiar padding underneath, between my feet and the wooden floor. Out of habit, my feet take me straight to the second-from-the-back-row pew in the center section. I take my seat, almost expecting to see an imprint in the cushion perfectly matched to my body. The sunlight illuminating the stained-glass windows is an artistic marvel. This evening, itâ€™s as if the sheep Jesus is holding is me. With a refreshed heart and soul, I want to sing praises aloud, but decide against disturbing the peace.
With nostalgia, my fingertips slide over the familiar hymnal before picking it up. I open it to the center and find, â€œMy Faith Looks Up to Thee,â€ on the left page. A title I donâ€™t recognize. After looking at the musical notes, I realize the melody is familiar after all. Thereâ€™s a comfort as I read the first verse, grateful for parents who raised me in a community of faith. The second provides the inspiration my soul is seeking. Reading on, I know the later are for times yet to come.
Thoughts turn to my dear husband, wishing he would find the same love and comfort in this church family as I do.
The sound of an opening door startles me. Suddenly, Iâ€™m jolted back to feeling like a stranger in my own church as I watch a young mother and her four kids enter. One on her hip, she keeps an eye on the two running ahead, while calling for the one behind to close the door and catch up. Though I donâ€™t know this family, I chuckle to myself as I can relate all too well with three young children of my own.
Iâ€™m startled again when a hand touches my shoulder before giving me a one-arm-hug. I return the hug, hoping the jump I felt inside went unnoticed.
â€œOh my goodness, how are you doing, Kaylie? I havenâ€™t seen you in a while.â€
â€œDoing great, Grace. Busy like always,â€ I reply as I slide over to make room. â€œIâ€™ve missed this place, though I feel a bit like a stranger here today after being gone for a couple of months.â€
â€œSame people, with a few new faces,â€ Grace replied. â€œWhere have you guys been lately?â€
â€œWell, weâ€™ve been visiting different churches. Thomas finds it difficult to connect here. Not being raised in the church, he would come home from worship saying he was totally lost as to what the preacher was talking about. He found the messages confusing, because he lacks a strong foundation and context. Iâ€™ve told him Iâ€™m willing to find a church where we both feel comfortable. I want our children to be raised in a loving church family where both parents attend, like I was. Being a part of a church family is also new for Thomas.â€
Over the noise of the growing crowd, Grace says, â€œNever thought of that. Makes perfect sense, though I wonder how many others leave worship not understanding what was said? This sounds like something we, the church, might need to give some serious thought to.â€
I ponder her last statement.
â€œHere, Mom. Hold my papers,â€ my youngest says, as he drops his art in my lap and scampers off.
â€œI hate to see you go, but I understand your decision. So, howâ€™s the church search going?â€
â€œWe attended one a few weeks back he really likes. I know a few people there. The sermons are different from what weâ€™re used to. More like Bible stories directly from the Bible, like we heard as children in Sunday School.â€
â€œFamiliar Bible stories as the message could be good, giving young believers what they need to understand the rest of the message. An opportunity to start out on milk before eating solid food, like it says in 1 Corinthians 3. Growth might come slow, but donâ€™t give up on him yet.â€
As the program begins, Grace leans over and whispers, â€œYouâ€™re a great wife and Mom. Keep doing what youâ€™re doing. Your littles will grow up knowing God and what it means to be part of a church family. Through your witness, Thomas could one day as well.â€
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