I just got back from picking up my friend Matt Yeater from Indiana Bible College in Indianapolis. The semester is over and Matt (and Griffin Matt's leader dog) will be staying with Jackie and I for the summer. I left around 5 a.m. Roughly 11 hours driving, loading up, driving back, and unloading.
About 1:00 or so, Matt was crashed and sleeping heavily in the truck from his long hours of finals and work to get his school apartment in shape the the inspection this morning. . .As I drove on to the sound of Matt's heavy breathing, my eyes started doing their little I'm too tired dance. . . finally the compulsion to sleep overcame me and it could not be ignored any longer.
I knew this was going to happen, and I knew the exact little church parking lot, that I wanted to stop at. It's about half way between Kokomo and Rochester. There are two little churches bordering U.S. 31 across a county road, one is a United Methodist church, the other a plainer, simpler building. That's the one I wanted to stop at.
When ever I'm on the highway and become sleepy, I always like to look for a church parking lot to pull into, to take a little power nap. I don't know why, but I've done this in a number of states, and even in Canada on business trips. I doze off for a few minutes, often thinking of the people, the history. . . lives. . . deaths. . . marriages. . .baptisms. . .all the woven life events that take place in a church. There's a particularly beautifully picturesque tiny little church in central Illinois, that I've stopped at quite a number of times on my way to Peoria on business over the years. I feel safer in a little country church parking lot, than pulling into a shopping center or merely parking on a random city street. I see it as a place of refuge. . .and I can rest more easily and more quickly with out worry. . .a place for a weary traveler to find rest while on the road. . .
Here's a link showing the little country church on the map: Little country church
This church building has been there for at least 5 years. As I pulled in there, I saw one of those lighted portable signs in front, saying:
FIRST SERVICE MAY 6
One car was in the parking lot. Not wanting to be threatening, I parked well away from the building, out in the limestone gravel, next to the county road. I left the engine (air conditioner) running, while I napped for about 15 or 20 minutes. It's not very comfortable napping in my truck. The seats only recline maybe 15° or so, but even closing my eyes for such a short time helped me greatly to overcome the extreme drowsiness I had been beset with.
As I prepared to leave, I noticed the car was gone. I was disappointed. I had had thoughts of wanting to say hello, to what I assumed must be the new pastor getting ready for his first church service tomorrow.
I thought to pull around the building, rather than directly exiting the parking lot, and as I did there was the same car, just beginning to pull away as I pulled along side of it.
A distinguished and kindly faced man, appearing to be about my age, rolled his window down, as I did the same. I told him that I was on my way back from picking up a friend at Indiana Bible College, and had used the church's parking lot for a little napping place.
I said that I noticed that he was having his first church service tomorrow. . . as I said those words, it was like pent up pressure was being released from him. . . He began telling me his story. He had been a pastor of a church for 30 some years and a couple of years ago resigned, turning his church over to his son to pastor.
He had spent the time off seeking God's will for what he should do next. About a year ago he decided to open a new church. . . or as he explained, He decided to open NOT-A-CHURCH. . .
He said people need God so badly, but are alienated from going to CHURCH per se. . . sometimes with good reason. . . sometimes just intimidated by the structure and format of an official church. . . Church is a family, but people today don't know what true families are. . . We pray to our heavenly Father. . . but lots and lots of people today, don't know what it is to have a father. . .
He talked on and on. . .people needing God, but traditionally structured churches not filling the need for many. . . the words tumbling out one after another telling of his passion. . . He said this week has been one of the hardest weeks of his life. He has greatly felt under attack. . . I told him that we would be praying for Him. . . that I would spend the rest of my drive home praying for him and for his new church. He said he felt that my coming by was appointed. . . I repeated. . . we'll be praying for you. . . His eyes were deeply grateful. . .
He and I left the parking lot. . . I prayed for this pastor and this little country church. . .
Please, if you have a moment. . . say a prayer for them also. . .