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Monday, April 2, 2012

Just Hit Me Over the Head with a Palm Branch--I Have it Coming!

I love listening to my pastor preach. He’s the only preacher I can listen to for forty-five minutes and not get bored, not let my ADD brain take me away to whatever book or project I’m working on or thinking about working on at the time. He’s just easy to listen to. And that’s no joke.

Yesterday, he preached a great message—the third and final in his series on the Holy Spirit. He’s often repeated stories over the years. Awesome stories he tells from time to time, that those of us who’ve heard him awhile love to hear again. Newer members listening for the first time cry—they’re really powerful, authentic moments. And yesterday he was sharing about twenty-three years ago, when he rededicated his life to God and made the decision to drop out of college and go to Bible college.

I love this story. Wrote a play around it, even, and we performed it successfully a few years ago. I wanted to hear it again. Every. Single. Word. As he segued into the telling, I leaned forward, one leg crossed over the other, elbow resting on my knee, chin in hand…anticipating…

And then it happened…

The lady behind me starting talking.

Distracting me…ADD me. Frustrated, I shifted, gave a little breath to let her know SOME people wanted to hear what the man was saying. Show a little respect, lady. This story is about a monumental day of obedience that has changed a LOT of lives in our 800-member church. Including yours—although you clearly don’t appreciate it.

Anyway, the sigh didn’t work. So I decided to pray.

Shut her up, God. Shut her up. Shut her up! I want to hear this!!

Clearly, God couldn’t shut her up either…the chatter continued. My irritation rose and I seriously considered moving to a different seat, but I didn’t want to draw attention to myself… Plus, it would have been rude, and I wasn’t that far gone.

So, I missed most of the story…stayed annoyed through the salvation prayer, moral of the story prayer, AND while I plunked down my whopping thirteen dollars for the Heart for the House love offering we take up once a month for church stuff.

After the dismissal, I turned around to get my purse and my eye caught the woman’s. She smiled—completely unaware of my inner temper tantrum. I offered a cursory, “If you only knew how ticked off I am at you, right now” smile, and went to find my family so we could just get out of there.

We got home after the weekly after-church stop at Walmart, where I ordered an eight piece chicken from the deli—only it would have been a fifteen minute wait—SERIOUSLY? For crying out loud, just give me popcorn chicken. If I could have found a way to blame the woman at church for that, I would have.

At home, as soon as the TV was free, I started the DVRed Mary Tyler Moore marathon, ready to put the morning behind me and move on.

The only problem was, I couldn’t escape it. My mind replayed the morning from wakeup to now, in little scenes like it does when I’m planning scenes for a book. Only this book had already been written. I couldn’t rewrite it and I knew God wasn’t pleased.

If I’m asking God—and I am—to show me my heart and change my ways, I have to allow the correction.

The truth is, it wasn’t about the big mouth behind me who annoyed me and distracted me from my favorite Pastor Matt story. It was about me. My bad attitude from the minute I woke up.

I begrudged the Lord yesterday. I’ve started this 40 day thing where I keep my commitments, including Sunday morning at church and I was mad that this was day 22, I had a raging hormonal headache along with other aches and pains, Hallmark channel was showing a Mary Tyler Moore marathon and honestly, church was the last place I wanted to go. BUT unlike the Tracey of a month ago—I got myself ready and went anyway. Figured God would take the sacrifice into consideration and have my back.

I tried to press in, but I struggled through worship—Why’d they choose these stupid songs? I hit moments where I ALMOST worshiped in truth, but for the most part, I never really entered in.

So maybe the worship leader flopped, but I was still looking forward to the message. UNTIL…

Shut her up, God. Shut her up. Shut her up.

Couldn’t He have made sure no one distracted me during Pastor Matt’s last ten minutes—which was the only thing I’d been looking forward to when I got up, knowing from a Tweet, he was planning to tell it. God knows where I always sit, He knows I go to the last possible service of the morning. Too much to ask that the talking woman NOT sit behind me? I really don’t think so. I mean sure, SHE doesn’t hear your voice, Lord, but if you’d given me a heads up, I could have sat elsewhere…Lord knows, I’d never move to the other side of the church, but a couple rows back would have helped.

But let’s be real here, I blew it. I missed a great opportunity to worship—because worship was awesome.

I had the not-awesome attitude.

I forgot about grace, forgot that, without love, all the changes God is making in me mean nothing. I forgot that He is worthy to be praised regardless of my feelings, attitude and aches.

I also forgot about the podcast, but that's beside the point.

I’m grateful for correction, even when looking at myself brings me shame. When I thought I was doing so well and realized I’m still capable of sabotaging the opportunities that come along with going to a great church with great worship and relevant preaching.

I still hope that lady grows enough to realize only one person should be speaking during the sermon, but I also hope if she sits behind me next week and chatters on again, that I’ll have more grace, more wisdom, more love-- that my worship reaches God’s heart as a sweet offering and not a clanging gong.

New mercies…

After reading this, Rusty says, “Boy, it’s a good thing we didn’t have communion, you’d have fallen over dead.”


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Tracey, Thank you for posting this. I can't tell you how many times I have prayed that 'Shut her up' pray. I was very taken back by somethings that went on yesterday and I realize that most of the 'bad' was my attitude in the situation. Thanks again for being bold enough to speak your heart. Have a blessed day!

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