I like to write happy stories about good things but life isn’t always happy. God is always on the throne but the sun is not always shining here in this broken world. This is my Father’s world but if you look close you see that it has some very ugly sin-scars. I was reminded of this a while back.
It was Thanksgiving Day and were we were in South Haven, Michigan. We played football for a couple hours before our family Thanksgiving feast. We were at my brother-in-law Jim and my sister Melony’s house. Thanksgiving Day football is a long-standing family tradition. Jim and I have sons bigger and stronger and faster than we have ever been who were not even born when we started this tradition. We can both still recount details of games we played on Thanksgiving Day when we were their age.
Jim and Melony live in a nice big parsonage on the church property with a huge field perfect for football. It was a wonderful day to be outdoors, mild and sunny. It may have been our best game ever. The lead toggled back and forth and everyone got involved in a big play or two from the smallest child to Dad (Grandpa), who was sixty-seven years old at the time.
We played all day until finally, mercifully, the ladies called us in for the feast. We all laughed and walked from the field. Out of the corner of my eye I noticed some flowers growing behind a shed used to store lawn equipment. How they got there is a tragic, painful story. My sense of well-being was tempered at the thought of it.
The flowers growing there were a memorial for a fifteen year old boy from Chicago. He and a friend stole a car and led the police on a chase that ended on the property of the church. As the police closed in the boy turned his gun on himself. His blood actually stained the ground within a few feet of the church. A few days after his tragic death his grandmother came and planted flowers on the spot where his spirit departed this earth.
I’ve grown up in churches and I have seen people who would never think of smoking or drinking bicker for hours and months and feud for years over who gets to hold the keys. I’ve seen churches split over who gets to stand up front and say how important it is to be holy and humble. When I think about those flowers growing there it makes me angry.
People who were created by God are dying on the very doorstep of the church. It is inexcusable for those of us who have taken the name of the Lord Jesus Christ upon ourselves to wallow in pettiness and selfishness while lost people drown in their sin in our sight. How can we waste our lives straining for newer and better toys while the flames of hell lick at the feet of people who live on our block. Why do we have no sense of urgency when children who bear His very image are suffering in the shadow of the steeple. How can we keep an endless schedule of games, gluttony and frivolous religious entertainment while families fracture and fail within the sound of our singing.
When I think of those flowers growing there, that weeping grandmother, and the blood of that boy I know I must approach my work with gravity and urgency. I must stop playing. I must not allow petty bickering and personal power-grabbing to keep me from the work of rescuing souls.
May God help us to work tirelessly together to rescue precious souls from hell while we still can. May God help us remember every morning when we plan our work that we will give an account to God some day for every idle word. God help us every time I look at our watch to remember that we don’t have a minute to spare. Eternity is forever but we have only a few short hours before sunset to work.
Kenneth L. Pierpont
February 10, 2003
The Riverfront Character Inn