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Being restless in a strange pew

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The Rev. James L. Snyder  

Everybody has places where they are the most comfortable. When a person (Yours Truly) is out of their comfortable place there is a certain, what should I say, discomfort. There are two places where I am the most comfortable.

The first place is behind my computer writing. The second place is behind my pulpit preaching.

Oh, what a life we lead who know where we belong. Much of the restlessness of the world is attributed to the fact that people do not know where they belong. I often hear people challenging the rest of us to get out of our comfort zone. This, I say with a good deal of evidence behind me, is why many people are restless and confused.

My advice is, find your comfort zone and stay there. Not only you, but also the rest of the world will be a better place for that little piece of advice. Every week I read of somebody suffering from what is called “burnout.” 

Usually it is somebody who thinks the world cannot get along without them. I have long ago come to the astonishing conclusion that the world would get along just fine without Yours Truly.

I am not saying that you should not enlarge your comfort zone at times, but once you step out of your comfort zone you are in a little bit of trouble. 

One of my favorite verses in the Old Testament is, “By little and little I will drive them out from before thee, until thou be increased, and inherit the land.” (Exodus 23:30 KJV).

The trouble with most people is they want to do everything immediately. This, of course, results in the infamous “burn-out-syndrome.” My advice simply is, know your comfort zone, take it easy, relax and enjoy the journey.

Then the inevitable became evitable. The Gracious Mistress of the Parsonage and Yours Truly embarked upon what was mischievously called a two-week vacation. Whoever came up with the idea vacation needs to be throttled within an inch of his dear life. Of course, in all likelihood it was not a “he” that come up with such an idea.

For us it started like this. My wife said, “Wouldn’t it be nice…”

The male response to this kind of inquiry is a mindless, “Uhm…”

 The husband’s chief duty is to make sure his life’s companion is happy. Although, there are times when the word “happy” carries different connotations. Unfortunately, no husband alive is able to keep up with this fluctuating definition. As soon as he has it all figured out it has drastically changed and he is back to square one.

Early in the Spring my wife started with the, “Wouldn’t it be nice…” And from that simple statement, our two-week vacation was under constructed. 

At the time, I simply went about my business thoroughly enjoying my comfort zone. Like the gentleman I am, 

I allowed her the high honor of planning this two-week vacation. My role was simple enough, to approve her plans.

Finally, the day came for us to embark upon our two-week vacation.

Let me say right here that I did not realize those two weeks encompassed, at the minimum, 14 days and 14 nights. All of this time would be spent living out of suitcases. I dutifully loaded the car with 17 suitcases and then I went and got my little overnight bag. Then we were off.

The first six days were not too bad, but then came Sunday. My normal routine for a Sunday is to preach several times and I have never found it to be a burden. What those who hear me have found is beyond my realm of computation. Although I was in a comfort zone setting, I soon found myself out of my comfort zone. Nothing is more pathetic in all of God’s creation than a preacher sitting in a pew.

Several times the young lady sitting next to me (let me emphasize the word young) jabbed me with her elbow. Then she leaned over and whispered, “Would you sit still.”

That was the first Sunday. By the time the second Sunday came along, I was an absolute wreck. I was deprived face time with my computer as well is getting behind the pulpit. I must admit that I was fast approaching a point of burnout, and my spouse was getting to the point of being burned up with me.

During the first part of the church service, I had a brilliant idea. I knew I was on the edge of something or other, so I needed to do some fast thinking. 

As soon as the minister began his sermon, I put my plan into action. I began to shout “Amen” at every opportunity during the sermon. Obviously, the minister in question was not accustomed to being Amened during his sermon. I just felt the dear brother needed some help along this line. 

And it worked. 

My Amening began to spur him on. What started out as a very dull monotone sermon developed into something rather exciting. The more I Amened, the more excited he became in his preaching.

Together we did a marvelous sermon that Sunday.

This reminds me of a phrase in the Old Testament. “… One chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight…” (Deuteronomy 32:30 KJV) 

The moral is, when you find yourself out of your comfort zone simply look for your comfort zone.

 

 The Rev. James L. Snyder is pastor of the Family of God Fellowship, 1471 Pine Road, Ocala, FL 34472. He lives with his wife, Martha, in Silver Springs Shores. Call him at 352-687-4240 or e-mail jamessnyder2@att.net. The church website is www.whatafellowship.com.