This last few days I have been in the State of Kentucky. I came here with my wife, whose father was having medical tests as of the results of a probable heart attack. He seems to be doing well (as of tonight) and is scheduled for one more test, then hopefully he will be released and further treatments to bring him to health.
While this is a scary moment for my wife's family it has also been a time to step away from the daily work and observe others around us. Since Debra's father is a pastor (Church of God of Prophecy, Central City, KY) there have been visits from the State Presiding Bishop, Scott Gillum, area pastors and of course some of his church members. It is heartening to watch the love and concern that is show by those visiting.
There has also been quite a few of Debra's extended family here, along with her younger brother and his family. I've watch the nurses and technicians at the Owensboro Medical Center demonstrate concern and what seems to be good care for his condition, also being mindful of the family's needs and ready to answer any of their questions. Another surprise came when an agent from the Kentucky State Inspector General interviewed the family and my father-in-law asking about his treatment and inquired as to his knowledge of patient's rights. This was a standard inspection, but this time I was allowed to observe and listen. Even the agent fromt he State of Kentucky seems so compassionate are caring.
When we returned to my father-in-law's home (he lives some 40 or so miles from the hospital) to spend the night, we found a note on the door that a nice evening meal had been prepared and was waiting for us next door. Everything was great, and I felt so appreciative of the thoughtfulness of the church members.
Having said everything above, I want to share something that a family member said when talking about his local independent church. Again, NOT a local congregation of the Church of God of Prophecy. He was inquiring about our church, about its structure, about its ministry and just what we have to offer when he said something I had to write down because I wanted to share it with you.
When speaking about his struggles as a young man caught between generations of a local church he said, "THE DOORS OF MY CHURCH ARE CLOSED EVEN WHEN THEY ARE OPEN."
I literally sat straight up in the chair and said, "what? Say that again." He repeated it and I quickly saved it into my iPhone so I could share it. If was like a lightning bolt out of heaven, and to be honest with you, I don't think he had time to think it up. I believe that in a moment of time he shared his heart....raw, right out there in front of everyone.
As I write this, it is late at night and my reflections over the past few days rushed by, and that moment early in the day when the Holy Spirit spoke through a bright young believer, a young man of twenty one...a man who loves the Lord with his whole heart...'THE DOORS OF MY CHURCH ARE CLOSED EVEN WHEN THEY ARE OPEN."
Friends, I don't have the space to write what is rushing through my mind...through my thoughts about our churches. Are the DOORS OF OUR CHURCH CLOSED EVEN WHEN THEY ARE OPEN?" Are we warm, inviting and loving to those around us? Now remember, this wasn't from an outsider visiting his church....but from a young man who is very active. He looks around and sees how people are treated...he watches the treatment of visitors and church members alike. ARE THE DOORS OPEN OR CLOSED?
It really doesn't matter whether the worship service comes from a hymnal or sung off the wall...it doesn't matter if the church has stackable chairs or pews...it doesn't matter how educated or organized a church is...what matters is just what this young man said today. He has observed that the DOORS of his church ARE CLOSED EVEN WHEN THEY ARE OPEN.
Beautiful sanctuaries, well-manicured lawns, trained and articulate staff, talented musicians....none of it matters if we have emotionally and spiritually closed the doors to people. Yes, you can have church services multiple times each week but if the DOORS ARE CLOSED EVEN WHEN THEY ARE OPEN, we have failed.
What I have observed in the past few days, how these people have treated my father-in-law and his family has strengthened my heart...it has warmed my soul...it has reminded me once again that people really don't care how much you KNOW until they know how much you CARE.
I pray the Lord will cause us all to sit up and pay attention to how we are treating one another and how we are treating those He sends to our churches. I pray they will NEVER find closed doors...only open and loving arms.