Years ago, I had a flat tire on a Wednesday night as I was returning from work. I had been working about 2 hours from my home, my family was out of town, and I had planned on making it home in time to attend church. I was feeling pretty good about myself, until my van began to swerve across I10.
I quickly changed the tire, trying not to get dirty as I realized that I would not have time to go by my house and change. In great “godliness” I broke speed limits in my attempt to make it to church. As I traveled I began to feel pretty good about myself. Here I was, a young man, 26 years old, busy, with a job that kept me running and I was making time to go to church on Wednesday night. Also, my family was out of town and surely most people would be impressed that I was coming to church by myself. I was determined to make it to the church – as a good “christian.”
I hurried; I surely did and soon realized that I was still not going to arrive until at least 20 minutes after the service had started. Forget that, I was pressing on anyways. After all, I had made such an effort and surely someone would notice and then I could tell them of my great effort. It was winter so it was dark as I drove down Hwy 98, and approached the church.
You can imagine my surprise when I pulled into a dark and empty parking lot. I had forgotten that the mid-week service was canceled for that week. At first I was disappointed because I had missed the service. Then I was a little upset, no one would appreciate the great effort that I had made to be there. All of my work was going to go unrewarded. How foolish was it of the church leaders to cancel church on the one night that I wanted to be rewarded for my effort!
I wish that I could tell you that I repented of my sinful behavior sitting in the parking lot of that church. I did not, not at that time. Instead I became increasingly frustrated.You see in my hurry to get to church on time I had skipped supper. Now a boy like me doesn’t miss too many meals and I was determined to make this up in the best possible way, Dagwood’s Deli.
Dagwood’s Deli was a small sub shop surrounded by a bail bondsman’s office and a computer repair store located on Hwy 98. Navarre didn’t offer to many places to eat but Dagwood’s more than made up for the fact that there was nothing else to eat for miles besides a Chinese restaurant next to Publix. It was also the spot were our family usually ate on Wednesday nights before going to church. Thinking I might still salvage some of the evening I turned the van towards Dagwood’s only to discover that they too were closed.
Spiritually fooled (my self-righteousness), physically hungry (sub shop closed), physically tired (Christmas-time in retail), and no immediate emotional help forthcoming (family gone) I went home a fooled man. You see, that night I made my practice of religion more important than the One I claimed to be worshiping.
Jesus’ words in Matthew 6:16-18: “Moreover, when you fast, do not be like the hypocrites, with a sad countenance. For they disfigure their faces that they may appear to men to be fasting. Assuredly, I say to you, they have their reward. But you, when you fast, anoint your head and wash your face, so that you do not appear to men to be fasting, but to your Father who is in the secret place; and your Father who sees in secret will reward you openly.”