This morning I had the opportunity to go to Seacoast Church in Mt. Pleasant, SC. Every time I'm on vacation at my in-laws I have the privilege of experiencing worship at this very authentic church. But this morning was especially sweet. And it all started at the door when I was greeted by Jon & Valerie. (Those aren't their real names, but you don't need to know them to understand this story) Let me rewind a bit so this all makes sense.
J & V live very close to my in-laws. I love them! They are some of the most generous and kindhearted people I've ever met. In fact, I think when I've played golf with J before he's actually tried to do bad just to make me feel better. If you're a man, THAT is kindheartedness! Back to the story. J & V only had one child - a son - and a little over a year ago, while in Central America, he was killed on a motorcycle. They got one of "those" phone calls, where life on the other side of picking up that phone will never be the same. Ever! If you're a parent, just the idea of having to fly to another country to "pick up" your child's body is unthinkable. It's something from a TV show or movie - not something that happens to people you know. Not anymore. The unreal became reality. The unthinkable began to consume every thought. You don't explain this. You don't have words. You quickly learn the Jewish concept of "sitting shiva" - of just "being there" for someone. And praying. Praying for a peace that cannot possibly come from anything this earth has to offer you. Nothing! This is God-only territory. It's where the spiritual rubber meets the road - where you suddenly learn and discover whether or not it's all been eloquent moral babble...or you truly believe that the God of the universe means what He says.
Romans 8:28 tells us that in "ALL things God works for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose". And you see, I think that most of the time we think that ALL actually means MOST. And I believe that when someone's child dies (because parents aren't supposed to bury their children) there is always the question pointed to God: "Why?" Why God? Why would you allow this? How could this one slip past you? Do you not love us? These are the questions, if I was J & V, that I would have taken angrily to the feet of the Creator and demanded answers. Why? But through all the pain and agony and hurt...I never saw anger at the unknown. I never heard a demand for answers that can't be explained. I saw, through the prayers of those who loved them and through the willingness to simply "be there", two people who were drawn to the heart of God rather than pushed away from it. Two people who had no active part in the church - the Body of Christ - who are now greeting me at the door as I walked in this morning.
The celebration and singing today was great! Geoff Surratt's message was right on. But the thing that pushed me closer to my Redeemer on my visit to Seacoast this morning was the Greeters! Two people who, at face value, were simply opening the door with a smile. But deep beyond those smiles lies a story. NEVER forget that! Behind that smile (or whatever paints that someone's face) lies a life-changing story! A story that causes some to doubt and question and turn away. But a story that causes me to find hope and believe. Which one are you?