For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Live as children of light. Ephesians 5:8
Once upon a time, in the last half of the last century, I was a Boy Scout. My BSA Troop 749 met at my church, Ardmore United Methodist in Winston-Salem, NC. As it happened, I was also active in the church as a singer in the youth choir and as a Sunday morning acolyte. Being an acolyte meant I got to wear a white robe, solemnly light the altar candles to start the service, solemnly extinguish them to end the service, and in between, sit all by myself on the very front pew, which was reserved every Sunday just for the acolyte.
In the Scouts, I’d worked my way through the procession of merit badges and classes, and had been selected Patrol Leader of the Bat Patrol. As Patrol Leader, I was expected to lead my patrol at meetings, guide them up the Scout accomplishment ladder, and most fun of all, shepherd them on camping trips.
It was inevitable that eventually, a weekend Scout camping trip would coincide with my Sunday to be an acolyte. Unable to find a replacement to be the acolyte, I resigned myself to doing both duties that weekend. I would take my Bat Patrol on the troop’s weekend camping trip, and my dad would pick me up early Sunday morning at the campground and take me to do my acolyte thing in church. I had it covered.
The camping trip went smoothly and right on schedule Sunday morning, Dad showed up to herd me back to shower and change. At church, I slipped on the traditional white cassock and cotta, checked to make sure my candle lighter worked, and waited for Reverend Hutchinson to give me the go sign. He did and out I went, walking with pace and reverence to the altar where I lit the candles, and then returned to my reserved front pew.
All was good. During the first half of the service we Methodists do a lot of standing and singing, so I was fairly active. And that was great because, boys being boys, I hadn’t gotten a lot of sleep the night before. We played poker by flashlight, talked Tobacco Road basketball, told each other ghost stories, and most of all, speculated endlessly on the wondrous hidden mysteries of female anatomy. Sometime long after midnight, we all fell asleep in the big tent.
And so it was, that as Rev. Hutchinson launched into the sermon, my eyes slowly began to shut. My head drifted back, back, back to rest on that lonely front pew, and I went sound asleep. There I was, in front of the entire congregation, mouth wide open, snoozing away.
At the end of the sermon, the kind lady sitting behind me gently nudged me awake. I quickly woke up enough to go extinguish the candles as the service concluded. Later, I learned Rev. Hutchinson explained to the congregation my double-duty weekend, and told them to just let me rest, but at that moment . . . I was mortified.
It would be wonderful to tell you I learned my lesson that Sunday morning, that never again would I let the bright baubles of the world distract me from learning about God’s word. But the truth is, I’ve had to learn that lesson over and over. And I’m still learning it, as hours slip away from me on Facebook and the Internet.
One of these days I’m going to feel that gentle nudge on my shoulder again, and I’m going to turn to see my Lord. I hope I’m not mortified, again.
Spend your precious hours here in this life seeking His face, in His Word.
I will meditate on your precepts and fix my eyes on your ways.
Kevin Spencer lives in Tennessee with his beautiful wife Charlotte and grandson Caleb. He is a staff writer for ChristianDevotions.us. A former prodigal son, Kevin is now trying to use the gifts God gave him, and by the grace of God has a life far better than he ever deserved.