You’re talking to a girl here who is running on fumes of strong coffee and snatched naps going on night number three, so ramble? I might! If you don’t know the reason I will tell you that I am watching, I think that is a good way to describe what I am doing. Last night my sister watched with me until four in the morning, I looked at her sitting there in a straight-backed chair and saw her big brown eyes unwillingly close and quickly open again. That was when I insisted she go home, which is just out my back door, and sleep in preparation for getting up and going to church this morning. Me? I haven’t been to a church service since December of last year and this is something you would never have made me believe in my lifetime would be a statement that would have ever come out of my mouth. Being raised in church sitting on the front pew listening to my dad sing and preach while my mother accompanied him on the piano until I was old enough to join in to form a family trio and then join the musical team as the organist it is safe to say I never missed a service in my life, including the Easter Sunday that I had to sing and play the organ with “pink eye” caught from a congregant’s child! (I think I have just written the longest sentence in the history of writing!)
It is very sad and strange to watch a person who once had a very strong will and was so busy wife to a pastor, mother of three, Sunday school teacher, and the leader of women’s fellowships raising money for various charities involving the church membership. Yet my mother is the reason for my being an absent church member! I would have never understood the value of the TV preacher until this happened to me. Our family had a wonderful program that aired several times a week where we sat around a table and discussed different themes from the Bible but I never thought of it as something a person would watch instead of attending a “gathering or fellowship of believers” but that is exactly what I am doing!
On Sunday morning I turn on the television and there I have found a group of singers that sing the kind of Gospel music I love to hear. It’s foot tapping, soul rending, heart breaking, joyful, looking for heaven, wanting to fly away, and praising Jesus music and I enjoy it to the max! My mother will sit and stare at nothing for hour on end but when that familiar music starts she looks at the singers and her mouth moves along with the words. I have even seen her bony little hand raised in praise and tears coming out of those eyes once so blue they could stare a hole right through your soul but now so blank of emotion. The real kicker to me was when the minister offered for the congregation both there in the church or in the television audience to say the sinners prayer with him, I watched as she repeated the words and thought that this ninety-year-old saint of the Lord knew exactly what she was doing as she prayed. She never responds more than when you say, “Let me say a prayer for you,” she immediately bows her head, slicked back hair no longer teased and sprayed into a fancy hair-do.
But I digress I wanted to tell you about the song I heard on that televised church program this morning. At first I just listened to the haunting tune and the beautiful harmony and then I noticed the words and it struck me on so many levels. “When I lay my Isaac down, broken heart but my Fathers proud, on this altar here he lays just to find it wasn’t him, God wanted me.”
I started to think about myself, and all the things I had let become “Isaacs” in my own life. To call something an “Isaac” is to say it is more precious to you than an only son born to you in your old age, knowing that without divine intervention you will never have another. I have hated the fact that I no longer had any ministry at the church that I had helped to start, yes I was only sixteen when it began but I worked as hard as my parents did to have a good music program and youth and choir, and all the things that other churches had. To suddenly find yourself without anything when for years you were the one that started every service was a hard pill to swallow. I felt that my service to God was stripped from me and what could I do on my own, by myself? Well here I am, I write everyday and you read and sometimes it helps you and you even write and tell me about it!
I thought a little deeper and found something I hadn’t thought of as a service to God. One of the Ten Commandments tells us to “Honor our father and our mother” (this is the first commandment with promise) “that our days may be long upon this earth!” Bingo! I don’t start a service or lead a prayer group but I turn on a television and find music, watch the “Golden Girls” and “Fraser”, the Braves and the Falcons and then I make sure she has food with the right vitamins, gets her coffee and the blessed medication that seems to soothe out the wrinkles in her mind for a few moments at a time.
As I sit here writing she is asking me questions about why we are in this house, who brought us here and when are they going to come and pick us up, and the night is young.
I have lain my “Isaac” down because as it turns out God wanted me all to Himself for a while, I’m happy to be here!”