Wednesday, June 14, 2017

Are All Hearts Free?

My father is a minister and I grew up in his churches (our churches) and under his leadership.  It wasn't  just Sunday mornings for us.  It was Sunday morning, Sunday night, mid-week devotionals, Vacation Bible School, district get togethers, and on and on.  This all happened while my father miraculously worked another full-time job, raised his 6 children, and kept clothes on our backs and food on the table which, many times, wasn't a lot.

People go to church for various reasons.  Some go because that's the way it is, others because they feel devoted to a building and they put however much money into the new bell tower, others from a true relationship with God and their experience with the Lord and others because they love the music services.

With most church services, there's a time for music, a time for announcements, a message, and some sort of call to action.  These calls to action aren't just "go spread the good news" necessarily.  Sometimes the very seat you're sitting in gets awfully HOT - REALLY FAST.

In my father's closings, he usually provides an opportunity for prayer with whomever, or for people to pray together, or confessions or praise.  And  he asks one final question that I will forever remember - ARE ALL HEARTS FREE?

I didn't think that much of it as a kid but today, what a question.  Dad simply wouldn't release the church until he was absolutely sure that he had given time for people to be with their thoughts, to be with their hearts, to search deeply, to ask for prayer, to ask for forgiveness, to give thanks and to be with each other as a church family.   Is there any lingering question?  Is there any lingering doubt?  If time were up for us today would we all be at peace?   Are all hearts free?   Not just yours, not just mine, but ALL HEARTS.

As a family, we held hands at the table to pray.  We had our evening meals together.  We sat by one another in church.  And even to this day when we have a family restaurant outing  (20-30-40 people)  our mom insists that we all wait until tables are aligned and grouped together so that we are all together and no one feels left out (we have literally waited for an hour or more sometimes) but it was worth every hug, every "pass the salt," and every memory or ROFL.

My father,  if my time in this frame ended today and there were only two words on my tongue - they would simply be THANK YOU.

 Always your first,

Billy Jr.

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