Here’s a snippet of the shocking conversation as I sat that Sunday morning on the second pew, as a visitor. The lady next to me, a member of that congregation, a middle ager and with her husband, spoke very casually:
The lady: “Yes….My daughter lives in Little Rock with her husband.”
Me: “Well, How are they enjoying that area?”
The lady: “Well, I’m not sure. I think my daughter may not be well. She might have cancer.”
Me: “Well, is she going for treatment? Has she been diagnosed?”
The lady: You know I’m just not sure about her condition or what she is doing about it. I’m not sure if she is going to see her physician or not. I don’t know what type of cancer she has or how large the tumor is. I need to ask her again. We also have a son who may be sick, too. I just can’t remember what he said about his condition, either. Oh dear. Honey, what is the name of that condition he has? Can you remember? (Looking over at her husband).
That was not exactly the conversation. But what would you think if it was?…That this mother was insane?… That she had been traumatized at some point, becoming cold and calloused about her own children?…That she was simply unfeeling and very different from the Christ we had all gathered to memorialize that Sunday?
Here’s the real conversation:
The Lady: “Yes. Our daughter lives in Little Rock with her husband.”
Me: “Well, where do they worship there?”
The Lady: “You know I am not sure. I can’t really recall what kind of church she said they are attending. I need to ask her again.
Me: (a little shocked). And you have more children?
The lady: Yes. Our son….He lives in Florida….Now he goes to some other church, too…I think he does. Oh, Honey, can you remember what kind of church he goes to?” …Oh…I’m trying to think…”
Just then the service began and I tried to pick my jaw up off the floor and frame my startled mind to worship the God of the Universe…the One who spoke the world into existence and yet knows how many hairs are on the head of this woman’s daughter….And He knows where that head is bowed on any given Sunday, if it is bowed at all. He knows if this woman’s son and daughter have a spiritual malignancy. He knows and offers the cure. But until this woman becomes more keenly aware of the eternal urgency of the spiritual welfare of her children, she will never be helpful to them in battling the spiritual cancer.
I was a visitor. Granted, I do not know the ins and outs of the relationship this couple have with their children. I do not know how recently the conversion of this middle-aged couple occurred. I do not know if their children have had a chance to hear the pure good news. But I know that, if this woman is emotionally and mentally stable, and if she loves the Lord and His church, she will quickly grow into knowing about, caring for and sacrificing for sin’s cure for her children. She will be plugged in to the treatment plan and she will be offering them the resource that will save their spiritual lives.
The difference between the cancer conversation and the one that really happened that morning? The first has to do with the speck in eternity that is our lives and the second has to do with the infinite remainder of eternity (and we really can’t even use the word “remainder” when we speak of infinite time. The remainder is still infinity.) The first has to do with a mortal body that houses the soul. The second is about the soul, itself—the essence of every human being. The souls of her children—who they are—is what this woman knew very little about. I pray that I may always know my children.
The second conversation, the real one, is far and away–infinitely–more important.