Each Sunday, he would assume his long held spot in the pew, three quarters of the way back, on the aisle. Worship would begin and he would sing the hymns, participate in the responsive readings, sit with his enormous arm on the end of the pew and ponder the scripture and then fall asleep during the sermon.
This wasn’t a once in a while occasion; instead, it was a weekly occurrence. After worship as he exited, he would always thank me for bringing ‘A good word for the day.’ He was a legend in this community and wherever he went, people flocked to hear him tell the stories of the glory days when he was in his prime. I feared to offend him for he seemed to be larger than life…until he wasn’t. A sudden illness took this man of great stature and pride and bent him into a man searching for true meaning and God.
I visited him one afternoon and we shared the pleasantries of the weather, the sports teams and checking in on the family. And then it happened—he asked me, “Where is God?” It wasn’t a philosophical question, but one of deep desire and need. For the next few hours, we talked about his life, the moments of intersection of the miraculous and the mundane. He shared intimate moments of life that few had known and why church was a must.
What he discovered was that his God had always been with him. In the glorious moments of his legendary days as a coach; in the heartbreak of losing a child; in the accident that should have killed him; in the prodigal son who had returned. God, right there, all along…and seldom had he noticed. Yet in his newest state that had him immobile, he had time to reflect and to pay attention. Most of his life, like ours, we are so distracted. Much of the distractions are good—work, family time, hobbies, etc. Yet how do we continue our lives while yet still being attentive? This week, we’ll explore the gift of attentiveness and how it might connect you deeply with the God who is beside, before, behind, within, below and above you as we declare each Sunday at the conclusion of worship.