2- Longing for Understanding – “The Friend”

As we continue our search for answers, we contemplate what it is that drives people to become who they are, how they act, what they believe and why. We contemplate the religions of the world and how they started. Which one is the real deal. What rules are God driven and what rules are man driven? Does God even exist? What makes man side with one belief or another? Just where does one place their faith? Do I place my faith in evolution or in God? Joe has decided to move on with his life and forget about looking for answers to all those questions.

“The Friend”

Joe pulled over and parked in front of the new party store stopping to buy a six-pack of beer for the evening when the girl he noticed at the church the other day came walking out with a package of chips and some soda pop. He smiled as he walked on by when he felt her reach out touching his arm and said hi Joe. He stopped, turned around with a smile and said, wow, it’s been a long time Sarah. How are you doing? I hope life is treating you well. Sarah looked at him and told him she was doing fine and that her life was finally kicking in gear. She had landed a good job she enjoyed and was settling into life after school. They exchanged some  small talk and Joe told Sarah he needed to get going. As he started to walk away Sarah told him that she noticed him the other day at church and that she was looking for him after the service was over but couldn’t find him. Joe stopped, turning back around, he looked at her and said that you people didn’t want me there and I knew it, so I just split. Sarah’s jaw dropped, having a look of dismay she started to tell Joe that was not true. Joe stopped her and told her that he could see the heads turning and the whispers. He knew he was not wanted. Anyway you guys have way to many rules and regulations for me, stated Joe. Sarah had gathered her thoughts just a little and offered up that she didn’t know what rules he was talking about. She sure didn’t feel that there were any rules that disrupted her life. Anyway, how would you know if you don’t really check into it, Sarah added. Joe had stopped walking and after a short thought offered up an invitation to Sarah. Sarah if you are really interested in how I feel and what I think, how about you join me for a drink at the brew pub and restaurant and we can exchange ideas on this topic. Joe was sure she would not accept his invite.

Sarah quickly gave this some thought and said that she couldn’t because she had to get back to work. Joe knew he was right. However, Sarah offered that if he would like to meet there around five o’clock this afternoon she would love to meet up with him. Joe was surprised and before he could give it much of a thought Sarah started to turn away saying she had to get going or she would be late getting back to work. Joe quickly thought that it couldn’t hurt, he was free at that time and anyway Sarah was kind of cute so he quickly replied that he would see her there. Ok – latter replied Sarah.

Five o’clock rolled around and Joe had arrived a little early and ordered up a beer while he waited to see if Sarah would really show. It was five o’clock when Joe looked up and saw Sarah walk through the doors. She spotted him sitting up at the bar so she walked on over, saying hi she sat up on the chair next to him. Joe looked at her and told her he was not sure she would really show up. Sarah looked him in the eye and said without hesitation – why wouldn’t I. Joe had set the tone of the conversation into a bit of an uneasy state, but they stated talking about their high school and some of the class mates that they both knew.

The bar tender finally got around to asking Sarah what she would like and she ordered up a Coke. Shortly after he had returned with her drink, someone turned the radio up a little loud by accident which got everyone’s attention for a few seconds stopping all conversation in its tracks. It was then that Sarah remembered that Joe once played in a small band in school. She turned to Joe and said – didn’t you play the guitar and sing a little while in school? Do you still play at all asked Sarah. Joe replied yes and was really surprised Sarah remembered he had played as they knew each other but never hung out with the same crowd much. I will have to hear you play some time Sarah added. If I remember right you were pretty good.

Getting a little more serious Sarah looked at Joe and stated; alright, let’s get back to the topic we started earlier today. You said that you felt unwanted last Sunday morning when you stopped in at my church. You told me you believed that our church had too many rules and regulations. That you felt the people did not want you there. Well, tell me why would you feel that way added Sarah. Joe looked at her Coke and quickly stated that he liked the flavor of beer, that it was obvious to him that because of her beliefs she could not drink beer because she ordered a Coke. Sarah quickly responded that if she would have wanted a beer she would have ordered one. She just needed to drive home later so she ordered a Coke. Joe was taken back by Sarah’s quick response, adding that I just thought that all you religious people were not allowed to drink anything that had alcohol in it. Sarah quickly responded stating; that is the problem with so may people, they don’t take the time to find out what God is really all about. They take up a position in their mind and never investigate anything about Him and what he truly represents. I was like that once and after I decided to dig into things for myself, I found that so many thing I thought were true, were not, Sarah added. Oh, there are religions out there that have added many man-made rules and regulations and quite honestly they really give us Christians a bad name and I don’t like it! Wow – Joe was taken back by Sarah and was at a lose for words. Joe quickly changed the conversation back to talking about high school and all their old classmates. Sarah finished her Coke and said she needed to leave as she dropped some cash on the bar to pay for her drink. Joe said it was fun and they should do it again some time. Sarah smiled saying see you around and started to walk towards the door. Joe’s mind started whirling, he quickly through some money down on the bar, left his unfinished beer sitting, quickly making his way out the door to catch Sarah and asked if she would join him for dinner some evening. Sarah opened her purse and handed him her business card and said call me and we will set a date.

Joe walked to his car, opened the door and slid in. He was still think about his drink with Sarah when he looked at her business card and found that her job was as the assistant to the pastor of the church he had been at. Joe’s head started to spin and the thought of Sarah working for a church entered into his head so he just threw her business card in his glove box and drove away.

To be continued . . .

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Pondering questions

– What was it that Sarah was trying to say? That all churches are not the same? That God has only one way to act and one way to believe? That rules that are man-made are not always good in God’s eyes? That all religious beliefs are not designed by God?

– What was Joe thinking when he asked Sarah out for a drink? What was going on in his mind when he realized that Sarah worked for a church that he felt uncomfortable in? Where has Joe gone wrong in his thinking about God? If Sarah is not against drinking a beer, what else has he been wrong about when it comes to Christianity? Why would the people in that church have made him feel so unwelcome when Sarah shows another side. What do you think Joe should do?

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