Lawson writes . . . sharing thoughts and memories

September 25, 2012

Read the Last Line

Filed under: Uncategorized — lawsonjolly @ 5:00 am

Over 50 years ago I wrote an article in our church newsletter.  The third page was always for the pastor.  I deliberately used enough words to fill the page.

The article was entitled,  “I apologize.”  I went into great details explaining why I had not come to the evening service the past Sunday evening.  I logically tried to explain my absence.  I recounted how some friends had come to visit on that Sunday.  Following lunch, they wanted to go to the beach.  I felt that it would be a gracious act on my part to take them to the beach.

It was a beautiful Sunday afternoon . . . and although the beach was crowded . . . we enjoyed hours of surf and sand!  I knew that it would be a day never be forgotten by my friends.  It was true that I should have left the beach in time to be at the service, but I just felt it very important to spend this time with these special friends . . . and besides, I had not seen them in years and did not know when we would ever have the opportunity to visit in the coming years.

I did my best in the article to say again and again how sorrowful I was.  I knew that it gave a wrong appearance . . . and  a bad example to those who had come for the evening service.  I guess I had not realized how important it was to the people to have the pastor there to deliver a sermon.

I can tell you that in the article I expressed genuine remorse and ask the congregation to forgive me.  I then signed my name to the article with the prayer that this failure on my part could be forgiven and we could continue as pastor and people.  The newsletter was then printed and mailed to all the congregation as it was each week.  In addition to the membership, many other pastors and friends received the church newsletter.

About two days after the mailing, I received a phone call.  It was from my parents . . . especially my mother!  She was calm, but I knew she was greatly disturbed.  I distinctly remember her saying in a naturally volume, but I knew inwardly she was shouting, “What in the world are you doing?  How could you go to the beach?  What makes you think you can skip Sunday night service when you are the pastor?”

Then a conversation began.  I wanted to be heard and perhaps I took control of the conversation.  I spoke back to her . . . not disrespectfully, but strong enough so I could be heard.  I knew I could settle this in only a few words.  “Mother, did you read the back page?  Did you read the P.S. following my signature?”

There was almost silence on her end . . . but not completely.  I could hear the breathing . . . the thinking . . . as she was realizing she did not know the whole story.  “What do you mean?” she asked.

In her response to the article, she had not continued to read the article.  It had so upset her that she had dropped the newsletter and picked up the phone.  I went on to explain, “Mother, turn to the fourth page . . . on the back . . . at the top.  Do you see the P.S.?

There was a moment of silence . . . then she responded that she saw what I had said.  I then told her that perhaps it was not something I should have written, but I was trying to make a point.  I had deliberately used then entire page for the article and my name, but I did not allow space for the P.S.  That’s right . . . I put the P.S. at the top of the next page.  You can never know how many people made an assumption before they read the last line.

The last line explained that I was in the service on Sunday night . . . as all those who attended could testify.  But I wanted those who did not attend to know that none of us have excuses for choosing pleasure or convenience over commitment.

I have never done that again . . . and I assure you I will not.  I write it off to a young, inexperienced pastor in his first full-time pastorate.

But there is a significant point here.  We should not make assumptions . . . or jump to conclusions until we have read the last line.  Many people today are jumping to conclusions . . . worrying about the future . . . what is the world coming to?  Let me give you the bottom line . . . and hold on to it . . . it is the truth!

“The kingdom of the world has become the kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will reign for ever and ever.”  (Revelation 11:15)  “Hallelujah!  For our Lord God Almighty reigns!”  (Revelation 19:6)

Have confidence in the future!  It is in great Hands!  I have read the last line!

Lawson

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