I didn’t know what to do.
It was the second time in as many days that I was stumped to determine my next move. The customer had been waiting for a couple of weeks for the parts and subsequent repair to the set of speakers he needed for his sound system. He has a job this weekend for which he must have the system operable. I had made him a promise. “We’ll have it up and going today.” I was, of course, depending on the delivery service to fulfill their promise (which they did) and was also assuming that I would have the time to effect the necessary repairs to the units (which I did, barely). I was also depending on having made the correct diagnosis regarding the remedy for the issue (yeah…not so much). I was still assembling the magnet on the speaker as he walked in the front door. He was understanding and agreed to hang around until I could finish. With the task completed, I reassembled the complete unit and, we plugged in a guitar to try it out.
It was a complete failure. The anemic, distorted noise coming through the newly rebuilt speakers was nothing like the clear, punchy music we had expected to hear. Quite obviously, there was something else wrong which I had failed to take into my calculations. We were a sorry pair; me–the shopkeeper, needing to make a sale, but falling short of the mark and he–the customer, realizing that the necessary equipment for his performance this week was further out of reach than it had been when he walked in the door. Neither of us had a clue as to our next step.
As I sat there on the speaker cabinet, I breathed a prayer for clarity of thought. It may be no coincidence that in that instant, my eye was drawn to another speaker cabinet nearby and a thought hit me. “Hey! Did you know that I’ve got the matching cabinet to the speaker I sold you a couple of months ago? Just this weekend, I bought it from the guy who built both of them.” As he examined the speaker cabinet, the twin to his, his face brightened. “I think this will work just as well as those would have! Can I afford it?” We negotiated a fair price, he purchased some peripheral items, and he went out a happy customer, thankfully, my last one of the day. I was drained, emotionally and physically.
I said it was the second time I had been in the situation recently. The first time was a little more frightening, but in a way, the result was the same. We were about to finish up the singing time in our Sunday morning service. The people had learned a new song and we were going through it one more time, to keep it fresh in our minds. The congregation had done their part well and were singing enthusiastically…“For all your goodness, I will keep on singing. Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find.” In the middle of that phrase, I (along with most people in the church) had our eyes drawn to a strange movement in the center of the building, just behind the front row. A young man, barely in his teens, leaned, turning as he toppled and smacked the concrete floor hard. We kept going for a line of two more, but most had stopped singing and soon, the worship team did that too. For a moment or two, the place was silent, as the health care professionals who were in attendance worked on the young man.
|Photo by Leland Francisco|
I didn’t know what to do next. For a long moment we stood and then, I was praying into the microphone, asking for wisdom for the workers and a healing touch from the Great Physician. It certainly wasn’t an eloquent prayer. I’m not sure I know how to do eloquent. But, in just another minute or two, the boy was up and being helped out of the worship center to rest in privacy. We were to learn later that he is going to recover just fine. For a few moments there, it was a scary time.
Several people assured me that I had done just the right thing. And, they’re right. What they don’t understand is that, just as I did today when I was at the end of my wits, praying is the natural reaction for every human being I know, when confronted by a brick wall in front of us. When we get to the end of ourselves, we turn to the One we know understands, the One who can actually do something about our circumstances. Prayer is an admission of sorts…an admission that we are powerless and that we need help. The difference is that believers know to Whom they are speaking in those moments.
I’m not going to spend a lot of time and ink here contemplating the effects and the benefits of prayer. There have been volumes and volumes written on the subject. There are even scientific studies which have undertaken to prove or disprove the benefit of prayer. Certainly, there are other facets to prayer than the emergency, crisis-mode pleas described above. All I’m saying today is that, when confronted with these kinds of situations personally, I would be paralyzed without a way to communicate with my Creator. And, I am grateful.
I’ve never been great at thinking on my feet. I need time to consider, time to weigh, time to revise and extend. Some situations don’t allow for that. It is a good thing to have One nearby who doesn’t need the time, but simply the opportunity, to act.
We’re in Good Hands.
“There are no atheists in foxholes.”
(attributed to Ernie Pyle~American war journalist~1900-1945)
“Funny how it seems I always wind up here with you;
Nice to know somebody loves me.
Funny how it seems that it’s the only thing to do;
Run and find the one who loves me.”
(from “Rainy Days and Mondays~ performed by Karen Carpenter~American vocalist~1950-1983)
“You’re rich in love, and You’re slow to anger
Your name is great, and Your heart is kind
For all Your goodness I will keep on singing
Ten thousand reasons for my heart to find”
(from “Ten Thousand Reasons (Bless the Lord)~performed by Matt Redman~British vocalist)
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© Paul Phillips. He’s Taken Leave. 2012. All Rights Reserved.