Tuesday, June 8, 2010

There's Nothing Like Being There

On May 1st, 1991, history was made. Nolan Ryan, the 44 years old pitcher for the Texas Rangers had warmed up poorly. The coaches were nervous, but called him out of the bullpen anyway. He took the mound that night and did for the 7th time what most MLB pitchers hope to do just once in their careers. He pitched a no-hitter. You can watch that whole game on video again and again, but if you were not there that night, you missed the experience and excitement of being in that stadium for that incredible event.

About three months ago I found out that my 30th high school class reunion was scheduled on the same weekened my associate pastor was scheduled to be out of town. If I went, it would mean that both of our pastoral staff would be out on the same Sunday. Given that he is also the worship leader, I was very hesitant to do that, but our elders were insistent that I go. "You need to go," they said. So, I scheduled it.

I am so glad they insisted and I am so glad that I did. Only 10 of our graduating class of 36 were there, but it was wonderful. I loved those people, and I still do. While we are planning another get together in the Fall for some who could not come, it will not be the same. There was only one night when this happened. If I had missed it, it would have been gone forever.

I think of that every time someone tells me they will be out next Sunday. I wonder, "What will they miss." I think of that when we schedule Bible studies, prayer times, VBS, mission trips . . . what will they miss? I can tell them what happened. I can share my excitement, but they were not there.

There is a myth that since God is a God of second chances, we don't have to worry about being there. We can "catch up," or there will be "another opportunity." A young man came to me Sunday and said, "I blew an opportunity to tell someone about Jesus. I just wanted to confess that and say I'm not going to blow another." We think that just because church is always there, God is always there, our sons and daughters and spouses are always there, we will get another chance. It's just not true. Sometimes, you only get one shot.