Life in a parsonage is sometimes confining, sometimes fun, sometimes mundane, but always a little unpredictable. Living next door to the church also means that we sometimes get unusual traffic passed our house, and to our door. Since parsonages are quite common in our area, people tend to know that if they knock on the door of the house next to the church, there is a good chance they’ll find a pastor living there. Happens all the time.
I’ve got a lot of stories to tell about these divinely “random” appointments, and I’ve decided to write about them on occasion. I’m going to call this the “View From The Parsonage” series. I hope to post these experiences weekly.
Without anymore rambling on, let me tell you about my weekend.
“The View From The Parsonage” (1)
Last week was winding down as most weeks do. It was Thursday, and I had finished my normal routine of bible studies and meetings. I was feeling unusually stiff and sore in my neck and shoulders. Within an hour or two, it became really clear to me that I was coming down with the flu. At least, I thought it was the flu. Turns out, I had strep throat. I go to bed early on Thursday, and find myself sleeping all day Friday.
Friday was a busy day around the church grounds. The church building is used on Friday mornings by a homeschooling co-op, and this Friday a young man was completing an Eagle Scout project by replanting some of the landscaping on the property. I was sleeping through most of the day, and finally began to feel a bit better toward the evening.
Around 7 PM, I woke up to all sorts of shouting and profanity coming from outside our house. People were clearly arguing. In my groggy condition I was thinking, “Why are the Boy Scouts out there acting like that?”
I crawled off the couched, grabbed my cell phone, and headed out to the church parking lot to check out what was happening. Well…as I left the house I heard a man shouting, “Get your f****** hands off my car.” He was shouting at the woman who, while he was trying to drive away with their kids (I think) she was kicking and hitting his car. Instead of just driving off, he gets out and starts to push her. He was tall, maybe 6’3” or more. She was maybe 5’5” or 6”. She then reaches up and smacks him squarely in the face. She got him good too. He grabbed her, and I really thought he was going to start hitting her.
So there’s me, wearing a t-shirt, gym shorts and flip-flops. I had a great case of bed-head, and probably looked like a raving mad man as I shouted at the guy to stop pushing the woman, get in his car and leave, or I was going to call the police, all while shaking my phone at him. He shouted at me, “Go ahead and call them, did you see her hit me?” To which I, in my pharmaceutically enhanced state of mind, said, “I don’t care. This is private property. Get in your car and leave. Now!” In my mind, it looked like this scene from The Fugitive…
Whether or not it was that cool, the guy got in the car and left, and the woman took off down the street in the direction from which she came. Immediately, I started feeling like I messed up, like I should’ve calmly walked out and hugged everyone and restored calm. Blessed are the peacemakers, right? I’m pretty sure a kinder, gentler soul would’ve handled it differently. Well, it wasn’t pretty, but some sort of temporary peace was restored if by no other means that by getting the parties separated for the moment.
Anyway, last Friday was an interesting day around the parsonage. I saw young men working hard to accomplish a goal together while helping a friend. I saw a formerly married couple being abusive toward one another in front of at least 15 witnesses and worse, in front of their children. These two different ways of being collided outside of our house, and it reminds me that we are surrounded all the time by hurt people leading destructive lives.
We need Christ. We need the peace that only Jesus’ atoning work on our behalf provides. Peace with God. Peace with one another. Peace within ourselves. Peace with restored creation.
But I’m also reminded of the difficulty in being salt and light in this world. What that couple needs is Christ, discipleship, and a good counselor. In the moment, all we could give them was a threat of calling the authorities and a forced truce. Sometimes, the best we can do, is the best we can do. But the gospel can do more than that, and I’ve been praying for that family, and for those children. I hope the Lord provides us with a second chance, under better circumstances, to share the truth of the Gospel. I’m praying for that chance.