We have a satellite dish and 99.9% of the time everything works fine. When a storm is brewing though the picture may start to break up. At first the picture breaks up for a second and comes back whole. As the storm draws nearer the pattern is repeated every few seconds. Suddenly the whole program and sound is gone and just the wording on the screen remains. The message states “searching for satellite signal.”
I was reminded of this disconnecting problem because recently I was talking to a friend that had a similar experience within her church. No, the church satellite system didn’t lose connection during a storm. It was a disconnecting problem far more serious. She was fairly new to this church but a message that she heard from the pulpit touched her heart. It was a message of making people feel welcome! It was about how everyone in the church should make every effort to make new people and old alike feel right at home. It was about how that we are one body and how everyone adds to that body. Everyone should feel comfortable doing their part and each of us should be appreciated. It was a fantastic message and made my friend more comfortable in deciding to venture out of her comfort zone to a Bible Study the church was promoting. Her friend and her were supposed to meet there but something came up and her friend couldn’t make it. When she arrived she didn’t really know anybody, but she did recognize the face of one of the leaders of the church. She sat at that table and small talk was exchanged. Then out of the blue this leader turned to her and announced that they were expecting someone else to come, that she probably had other people coming too, and the whole table got up and went to another table leaving my friend sitting there all by herself. She had to shake her head in disbelief wondering what happened to that wonderful message that was given just a couple of days before?
Sadly maybe I can answer that question from something that happened to me a few times. You see we were regulars at this church and we came in just before the service was about to start. The only seats that we could see from the back that were available were on the left side about five or six rows up. Getting comfortable in our seats we noticed right in front of us was a young couple sitting very close together whispering to each other. At first it seemed like a normal thing, but when church started the closeness and whispering continued. When we would get up and sing they had their arms around each other sharing the same book. When we sat down to hear the message it was the same closeness and constant whispering. Of course I’m thinking “Are they here to worship God or each other?” Naturally I’m leaving the service wondering, what the pastor had talked about? The next week we were in our seats ready for the beginning of the service and the same two people sit right in front of us! It was the same thing all over again. I don’t know if these people realized what a distraction they were and I felt like I should tell them. However, I thought better of it. What should I do? Should I tap them on the shoulder and ask them to quit worshiping each other because it was disturbing my worship of God?
You may laugh but I think it would be laughter at thinking about things that interrupted your thoughts as you were hearing a sermon. I wonder what might have been the reason for the strange disconnect of the sermon and the church leader? How can a message so plain and simple be so disconnected in real life? In no way do I know what was happening in her head, but maybe it went something like this: “Pastor Jackson has a nice suit on. I like that one far better than the one he wore last week. Those colors..What was he thinking? He’s talking about appreciating people, I wish someone would appreciate what I am doing. Coordinating that Bible Study on Tuesday night is getting to be a headache. Hmm I’ll have to call Sister Smith and Sister Johnson to help make calls. I wonder where Dave Martin is today? He and his family are always here. Oh my, Mrs Turner is wearing that strange hat. Doesn’t she realize it has been outdated for years? I’ve got to help with that church picnic this Saturday. I hope the weather holds up. The 10-day forecast is predicting that it might rain. Wow, Pastor Jackson is really preaching about unity and making people feel like they belong. It sure would be nice if these people would be willing to lend a helping hand once in awhile! They say that 10% of the people in a church do 90% of the work. I think in this church it is more like 5%! If more people made the effort to do things it would be so much better! What time is it? Usually he preaches until noon but he is really getting carried away! I told Karen and Beth that I would meet them at the restaurant at 12:30! Oh finally, his final point, the final prayer, amen and amen. Pastor Jackson, your sermon was really inspiring! I appreciate you telling us what we really needed to hear!”
The disconnect problem is a common one. It is prevalent with teachers, coaches, bosses, counselors, doctors, and pastors among others. Each of these fine people take hours and days preparing their messages only to find that their words have been disconnected in a good percentage of hearts and minds. Somewhere between when the message begins and the actual real life action the message is lost. It may be in the execution of the plan or it may be that the plan was never crystallized into our thinking. Sometimes the plan goes against how we want to live so we reject it. I’m reminded of the doctor who told his patient he needed to quit smoking and drinking and to change his diet. “So what are you doing?” a friend wondered. “I’m switching doctors”, was his reply.
I wish I had a sure fire way to keep people more focused! I see companies trying to do it with medication or energy drinks. Like any problem it is necessary to admit that the problem exists. It may be just a willingness to improve that will help the situation. Be honest with yourself and with others. There will always be distractions we can let hinder us. There will always be storm clouds if we choose to see them. Focus instead on the message being sent your way! Vision in your mind what actions you will take to accomplish the execution of the message given! Proverbs 29:18 states that “Without a vision, the people perish.” I think the same can be said for our messages. Without a vision our messages are lost! Taking that thought in reverse when we hear the message and vision ourselves executing what the message has us accomplishing, the message takes on life! It is no longer just words as we actually take the steps needed to make it reality! Sometimes in life storms come through and we lose our focus. In the case of my satellite dish if the storm causes us to lose the picture we don’t knock down the dish. We have faith to know that the problem will be solved once the storm fades. When I look at my blank screen I know that if I stay the course and have a vision for what will happen the picture eventually returns just as clear as it ever was!