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by Jan Ackerson  
1/08/2007 / Short Stories

I walk to my church office through a crisp wind. Its a long walk, nearly three miles, but I crave the clarity that is borne on the breeze. My shoes on the sidewalk mark out a prayer of four beats: LordIneedYouleft, right, left, right. It is the only prayer my spirit knows on this frosty morning.

Im not sure that Im doing what the Lord has called me to do. Im confident of His call, have never doubted my longing to introduce lonely and hurting people to my best Friend. But being a pastor seems to be hindering my mission; constant quibbles and controversies fill my hours and obscure my vision. Sometimes I strain even to see His face.

Arriving at the office, I see the light blinking on my answering machine and listen to the recorded messages.

Pastor, its Linda DeVries. You know I dont like to complain, but the music last Sunday was just too loud. I wish youd tell them to turn down those speakers, God doesnt need all that noise

Her voice continues for several minutes. She has a litany of complaints: the singers are off key, the drums unnecessary, the chorus repeated too many times. I send a prayer heavenward: Bless Linda DeVries, sweet Lord, with a moment of pure, unquenchable worship

A beep signals the beginning of the next message, a teenaged girls youthful inflections.

Pastor? Its Christy, from the worship team? I just found an awesome rocked-out version of Holy, Holy, Holy. You should hear the bass part! I know some of the old people have been dying to sing hymnswell, not dying, actuallybut this should make everyone happy, right? And also, can we have a light show in the background?

I close my eyes and try to imagine a heaven in which both Christy and Linda DeVries are singing the same praises to the Lamb.

Small noises outside my door tell me that Rona has arrived in the secretarys office. I open the door to greet her, and she hands me some papersprintouts of e-mails and pink memo slips. I receive them with a wince and return to my office, but not before briefly meeting her eyes. I think she winked at me.

Another silent prayer: Dear Lord, she winked at me. And were alone in the church today. Well, I cant deal with that right now. Give me strengthIll handle her later

I rest my head in my hands for a moment, reprising the prayer that brought me to my office. Lord, I need you

The stack of papers calls out to me.

Pastor, last Christmas the sanctuary decorations were way too gaudy. I think we should just go with just candles and greenery this year

Pastor, Im going to decorate for Christmas this week. Ive bought fifty more strings of colored lights, hope thats okay

Pastor, I caught two children running in the sanctuary yesterday. Something should be done

Pastor, I dont think you should read from that version of the Bible any more

Pastor, someone spilled grape juice on the communion cloth

Pastor, the leaves on the east lawn still havent been raked

Pastor, a light bulb is out in the ladies room

Pastor, the offerings were low this week


I bow my head. Is this what Youve called me to do, Lord? How can I bring new sheep into Your fold when Im constantly being asked to make tiny repairs to the fence? There is a knock on my door. Anddid Rona wink at me?

Somewhat hesitantly, I call out an invitation to enter.

Its not Rona, but Dennis Crakes, a teen who has been silently occupying a seat on the edges of our youth group meetings, arms crossed, eyes closed, occasionally snorting at the discussion.

Dennis has come to place his shattered life in the arms of the Savior.

Half an hour later, he leaves with a lightened spirita new creation.

There is silence in the outer officeRona has left. I decide to walk home for lunch. My shoes beat out a new prayer: Youaresogoodleft, right, left, right.

Arriving home, I kiss my wife. I feel like a new man, once again sure of my purpose.

She pulls slightly away from my embrace and searches my face. You had a good morning, didnt you?

I kiss her again. I did, sweetheart. I really did. And by the waydid you wink at me?

Jan is a Christian who has traveled through sorrow and depression, and has found victory and grace. She dedicates all writings to her Heavenly Father. Check out Jan's website at
Copywrite Jan Ackerson--2006

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