The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland Tennessee (TN) and Bradley County Tennessee (Tn).

Of Bradley County Tn.

APRIL  2005

                            The People News, a free newspaper serving Cleveland and Bradley County Tn.






A Matter Of Faith


by Pastor Joel Lawler

She woke up in her car again.  How she got there was a blur.  She went out with some friends, had a few drinks, went someplace with someone and now she finds herself crumpled up in her car.  She must have slipped out of wherever she had been the night before in rush.  Her clothes were half on and her shoes were in separate corners of the back seat as if they had been thrown in.  As drunk as she must have been, at least she had the presence of mind to find this parking lot to sleep it off rather than to try to drive any further.
It was difficult to make sense of anything with the throbbing in her head. 

She raised her seat from the reclined position in order to see out the window so she could get some idea of where she was.

It was obviously a strip mall parking lot.  There seemed to be a pretty major road in front.  She decided to drive her car to the entrance way to get a better view.

As she pulled up, there was a car parked close by with its trunk open. A young man was unloading what looked liked real-estate signs. They were temporary signs for a church that met in one of the abandoned spaces.

Pastor Joel Lawler

"That's just what I need, a little religion."  The sarcastic words cut through the fog.

"I should go in there.  I deserve to be humiliated.  I have told myself over and over that I would change.  I am thirty years old and I still act like I am in college."

She turned her car around.  She parked it just far enough away from the entrance of the make shift church so as to be able to escape without being noticed in case she suddenly lost her courage.

She did what she could with the makeup she had in her purse.  It was time to go.

"They probably won't let me in the door" she thought to herself.

She walked in, and was greeted by a kind lady who handed her some sort of

folded up printout of some kind.

She stuffed it in her purse and darted for a chair in the back corner of the room.

These people did not seem like what she would imagine the church type of people to be.  They were normally dressed as if at the mall or something.

As the music began to play, she had to admit that it sounded pretty good.  There was a full band just like the ones she had gone to see at the bars.  The words to the songs were projected on a screen.  The first song was about being broken.  She knew what it felt like to be broken but this was sung as if there were some sort of peace in it.  She had no idea how they made that connection.

She suddenly became very aware of how cold she felt.  She also felt very alone and awkwardly out of place.  She did not belong there. These were good people and she was trespassing.

An elderly gentleman came across the room.  He was coming straight towards her.  She wanted to hide.

Maybe he was coming to ask her to leave.  As he approached her, he smiled and said "Would you mind if I sit next to you?"

She shook her head no and he sat down beside her. 

He extended his hand and said "My name is Bob.  They call me Deacon Bob". 
She guessed he got the name because quite unlike the others, he was dressed in a suit.

The lead singer asked them to stand for the next song.  Whether it was the temperature or her indulgences the previous evening, she could not keep from shaking.

Bob removed his coat and gently placed it on her shoulders.

"They never can quite get the temperature right in here" he said with a smile. 
The coat felt as warm as his smile.  The smell of it brought back good memories of her granddad.

The lead singer asked the crowd to turn and greet each other.  Bob introduced her as his "adopted daughter".  Apparently, everyone in the room was Bob's adopted kids and was loved by him.

At the end of the service, she began to remove the coat.  "It's rather chilly outside.  Why don't you go ahead and keep it on.  Maybe you could bring it back next week?"

"I will" she said.