The morning of Good Friday in April, 2002 began just like any other:--
I rolled over in my bed eyelashes fluttering rapidly as I peered myopically at the alarm clock. Satisfied that once again I'd beaten the alarm, I returned to my previous position and contemplated the ceiling as I prayed in my mind, good morning God! Then without interrupting the flow of my prayer, I reached over, beat the alarming clock into submission, and continued, I thank you for waking me up this morning...
My prayer complete, I jumped out of bed, (actually more of a sideways shuffle) and headed for the bathroom. It was a day I anticipated with glee, a day devoted to God. My only complaint, why did it have to begin so early?
Our family had begun a tradition of attending three services on Good Friday. One at 7 a.m. featuring all women preachers, another at 12 noon in a Senior Center; and the grand daddy of them all at 6 p.m. featuring seven heavy hitting preachers from the New York and New Jersey areas accompanied by seven bumping choirs (the equivalent of the Christian "Drop it Like it's Hot")
After a rousing round of women who brought new revelation to the seven last words of Jesus on the Cross. One which stuck in my mind was delivered by Rev. Jackie McCullough who had the word "It is Finished!" -- In her exposition, she posed the theory that becoming a Christian, finishes our lives as sinners, but our lives in Christ has just begun. This theory relegates the stagnancy of many believers and stuff and nonsense and points to the fact that mustard seed faith will get you into heaven, but great faith is what gets you through, here on earth.
This was followed by a song entitled "Lord I'm Available to You" that talks about dedicating all the gifts we receive from God, back to use in His service, to reach His people who are brokenhearted and in need of freedom from whatever vices hold them down.
I was in tears after that and pretty pensive as we traveled from the morning service to the noon service. Since it was located in a Senior Center, the church wasn't as grand as the structure of the church hosting the morning service, but where there presence of the Lord is, there is reverence.
With the high from the previous service still in full force, I sang more heartily than usual, I listened more attentively to each preacher, with the first preacher getting my attention, because his sermon was geared towards encouraging the youth, and as a former youth choir director and an overgrown kid myself, you say the word youth and you've got my attention.
So after his sermon, I smiled in acknowledgment (kinda that "Good word sir!" thing we do) whenever our eyes met. Which seemed to be quite often, now that I think about it, but being used to folks staring at me, I didn't really take it on.
When it was my Pastor's turn to render the word, I sang the song he'd requested entitled, "I Believe, So Why Should I Worry or Fret."
Upon resuming my seat, Minister no. 1 was still nodding and smiling at me, but since it wasn't a lechorous look or smile, I continued smiling then refocused my attention to the word.
Having congratulated all the ministers and schmoozed with their wives or choir members, I made a beeline for the most important section of the room. Nope, not the bathroom, the food table! I was almost there when I was intercepted by Minister no. 1 who shook my hand, smiled beatifically at me then asked,
“When are you going to start preaching?”
Stunned, I looked around to see if someone else had silently eased up behind me, but there was no one there. Even as I thought, he really must be short on conversational material, singing is my thing, I replied.
“Me? Preaching? Where’d you get that idea? That’s not me, you saw what I do…I sing, that’s what I do.”
Throwing up his hands in “I surrender” mode he said,
“Don’t get mad at me, I’m just the messenger. I’m just telling you what God told me to tell you--that’s what I do.”
I politely smiled, shook his hand again and hightailed it away from him and proceeded to avoid what I considered the “crazy” man till we departed. Later that afternoon, on our break before attending the 6 p.m. Good Friday service, I told my sister and her husband of my conversation with the elderly minister concluding with,
“If people don’t’ have anything to say, they really should just be quiet.” With that grand assessment I walked upstairs to my apartment, congratulating myself on having nipped that nonsense in the bud.
A month later, the nagging thought occurred. What if he wasn’t just making conversation?Again I thoroughly and ruthlessly squelched the idea of entertaining such a thought. Not me! Why would God…choose me I mean, I’ve been here for 37 years, I think I would have known by now of any leanings in that direction. Plus I’ve heard many extraordinary and captivating testimonies of “the call” and so I just know that were I to be chosen, I would be alone not in a crowded room so I could say that God was probably talking to my neighbor and I overheard and I should expect nothing less than the halleluiah chorus to be played accompanied by a ray of light shining through a fluffy white cloud that would illuminate just me.
Can you say wrong? I received “the call” during one of the lowest periods of my life…