Yesterday I had an extended chat with a gentlemen who finds himself in a predicament. A “simple deacon” (his words) in a Baptist church, he was thrown into a morass that is so horrendous that it is affecting his health. The chairman of the deacons was caught in a child pornography sting two weeks ago soliciting what he thought was a 14 year old girl for sex. Yikes! Made the front page of the local paper and even some of the larger state papers. He may even end up on tv on NBC’s To Catch a Predator. Oops! Not good, right? It gets worse.
The church is reeling. Intense public scrutiny. The inevitable whispering and sidelong glances. Out of the blue, the husband of the choir director runs off with his secretary! Bummer! Talk about a one-two punch.
Now here is where my “simple deacon” enters the picture. He is tapped as the new chairman of the deacons! There is no pastor — he’d left town under less than optimum conditions a short time prior. So my deacon friend now has to step in to deal with this catastrophe and he has nothing to draw on other than his “heritage.” Talk about being at the wrong place at the right time . . .
His blood pressure is sky-high, his cholesterol is at dangerous levels, his blood sugar is in diabetic range, he’s exhausted, unable to think clearly or perform at work — a real basket case. He doesn’t know what to do because his “Baptist tradition” (his words) gives him no real direction.
While not the same thing Jesus is referring to in Mark 7, it does illustrate the point. Tradition can be nice at a holiday, but in real life it sucks! When life comes rushing in, tsunami-style, kicking you between the legs, wiping out everything that is familiar to you, leaving you ridden hard and put away wet, tradition is worthless. What you need at that moment is the calm in the middle of the storm, the Water-Walker, the Storm-Stopper, the World-Maker.
“These people make a big show of saying the right thing, but their heart isn’t in it. They act like they are worshiping me, but they don’t mean it.”
And then life happens . . .
The one thing that reading through the Word each year has taught me is that no matter how bad it gets, the same Being who is concerned about me not eating food that might make me sick (e.g., Leviticus) is extremely concerned that I know that I am able to run to Him, crawl up in His lap and hold Him tight when everything around me begins to crumble. What the deacons before me might have done doesn’t help; what He can do, will.
Even more to the point, the reading in Psalm (40:17) today:
the Lord is thinking about me right now. [emphasis mine, of course]
Don’t tell me this stuff is boring. No more so than parts of your life are rather monotonous, uninteresting and boring. But when the brown stuff hits the whirling blades, in your life as well as what you find in the Word, it becomes maddeningly interesting!