The following is an excerpt from the book, Real Life Moments, by J. Mark Fox.
But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.” (Matthew 13:57)
It was an invitation that took me by surprise. The last time I preached in my home church, the one I grew up in, was in 1986. So, to get an invitation 20 years later to come and share with the folks there was exciting. It was a rare opportunity for a local boy who was known by many in the congregation as “a handful.” That was one of the nicer phrases used to describe this middle of three boys who always seemed to be getting into some trouble or the other.
I remember the Sunday evening when I was sitting near the back of the sanctuary with a lot of my teenage buddies. We were having a big old-time snickering, passing notes to one another, whispering jokes down the line, and basically making nuisances of ourselves. The man in the pew in front of us began to turn red. It started at the base of his neck and worked its way up, out onto both ears, and continued up to the top of his head. Then he started to shake. Just a little at first, and it looked like he was stifling a laugh, but I could tell that wasn’t it. He had one hand stretched out to the right and as he gripped the pew to keep from shaking, his knuckles turned white. My eyes bounced from his white-knuckled death-grip on the pew to his neck that was beet red to his shoulders shaking with adrenalin. When the tremors grew worse and it looked like he was about to blow, I stared in fascination at what I knew was about to occur. He finally couldn’t take it any more. His southern gentility broke like a dam and he turned and faced us with a fury. In a stage whisper that half the church could hear, he told us that this was the house of God and that we were interrupting the service and that if we could not sit still and be quiet and listen, we should just get up and leave! He was right, of course, but we were too smart to know it at the time. I had the sense as a 15-year-old that is common to that species, the sense that I knew just about everything there was to know. The only thing I didn’t understand was why older people were so dense. Like I said, I was “a handful.”
Flash ahead nearly 35 years and here I am, back in my home church. Only this time I am not sitting in the back making a disturbance. I am in the front, watching my children. We had been invited to come and share about the mission trip to Kenya that seven of us from Antioch took this summer. Two of the seven were Caleb and Hannah. I sat and fought the tears as I heard my 19-year-old share how God has changed his heart each time he has traveled to Kenya with me. I nearly fell apart as I listened to my 17-year-old tell how God used the trip to challenge her thinking and deepen her love for the Father. The other team members shared testimonies and songs and my heart was overflowing with gratitude at what God has done in my life in spite of me.
It is hard to get a hearing at home, sometimes. But you can go home again. You can.
Prayer: “Lord, give my children (and me) a vision for the world.”
Action: Plan a mission trip with at least one of your children. It doesn’t have to be across the sea; it could be across town at the homeless shelter!