Have you ever met someone who was saved but stuck? Perhaps you’ve never thought about it. To be honest, I hadn’t either until I met Henry Lee Jackson. Oh, I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to be disrespectful. It’s Deacon Henry Lee Jackson. I know how important titles are.
Well, I joined a new church last year, so I only knew a few people, but the Deacon was hard to miss. He sat in the front row with his beautiful wife, and he wore the most flamboyant suits. My favorite is the Thanksgiving suit with the sweet potato pies, turkeys, and fall leaves on it, but the Christmas suit with the nativity scene is a close second. Of course, I don’t know why a hawk was flying over the manger, but I’m a new Christian, so maybe I missed something… I don’t know.
Now, believe it or not, I actually pay attention during church, but Deacon Jackson is hard to miss. He constantly stands during service, and he’s made it his life’s mission to be the pastor’s biggest cheerleader. If I close my eyes, I can hear him say, “Go on, pastor.” “You’re doing good, pastor.” “Keep it up, pastor!” Then, the rest of the deacons join him. I’m telling you. Their love for our pastor is amazing, and it is one of the many reasons why my husband and I decided to become members.
Of course, we wanted to be more than members. We wanted to be active members, so we signed up to be a part of the Thanksgiving Kitchen Committee. Apparently, we didn’t know what we were getting ourselves into. I thought we would stuff boxes with turkeys and all the trimmings, but we were actually going to cook a Thanksgiving meal for our homeless brothers and sisters in the community. No one wants me in the kitchen, so I volunteered to decorate the tables and the First Lady asked me to secure at least ten more volunteers. Calling people wasn’t my thing, but I couldn’t say no to the First Lady. Could I? Apparently not! Before I knew it, I was smiling and agreeing to call over one hundred people.
“…Thank you, Sister Sonya. By the way, when you call the members, please let them know that the pastor and I will not be preparing the meal this year, so we will need someone to take the lead. I would start with Deacon Jackson and his lovely wife, Sister Dawn. They’ve been with my husband and I from the very beginning, so it would be perfect for them to take the lead this year because they understand the heart of the ministry.”
“Well, don’t you think it would be best if you asked them?”
“Oh, goodness no, your request is just as good as ours… believe me…they don’t want to be treated any differently than anyone else.”
“Well, I am off work tomorrow, so I will begin to make the calls then.”
The next morning, she made herself a cup of coffee, grabbed the contact list, and went into her home office to make the phone calls. As the First Lady suggested, she contacted the Jackson family first. The phone rings at least three times. “…Hello?”
“… Deacon Jackson, this is Sonya. I am calling on behalf of the Thanksgiving Kitchen Committee—”
He chuckled. “Oh, yes! I’ve been waiting for someone to call me. Let me guess. The pastor needs me to get my apron back out this year and help prepare the meal. Usually, the pastor prepares the brine and rubs for the turkeys, and I smoke them bad boys.” He paused for a moment. Then, he said, “Yeah, we are a good team. He could ask any of the men in church but he trusts me, so it would be a pleasure to work along side him again this year.”
“Well, he needs you to do more than work along side him this year. He needs you to take the lead because they will not be preparing the meal this year.”
“Excuse me? He didn’t mention this during our Deacon Board meeting. Where are they going?”
“I don’t know, sir. The First Lady didn’t say.” “Well, we’ve always done it together. It wouldn’t be the same without the two of them. You know, come to think of it, I don’t think Dawn and I are available to help this year.”
“Really? Are you sure? Because the First Lady said–“
“Yes, I have to go. Thanks for calling. Have a great day now. Good-bye.”
“Henry Lee, what was that about? You love preparing the turkeys with the pastor-”
“Well, that’s just it… the pastor won’t be there this year.”
“What do you mean? The first lady didn’t say anything when I spoke to her earlier. We always make the sweet potato pies together. Of course, I’d like to make chocolate cake, but I’m not one to push. I can’t imagine making the pies with anyone else. It just wouldn’t be the same. I even made matching aprons for us.”
“Well, I feel the same way, so why don’t you call her again to make sure?” “
“Of course! I’ll go and do that right now.”
A few minutes later, she returned to the living room. “Well, I’ll be… you were right… they won’t be preparing the meal this year, so she asked if we could do it. I told her that it wouldn’t be the same without her in the kitchen, but she encouraged me to take the lead.”
“Well, what did you tell her?”
“I told her that I would think about it, but I don’t think my heart is in it this year… I think we should take the year off and enjoy the day here together.”
“Sounds good to me… it’ll be nice to eat in peace for once. You know that smell is enough to turn your stomach. Who can eat with all that extra body odor in the room?”
His wife giggled and said, “I don’t know how the first lady walks around and hugs some of them. It takes all the strength I have just to be in the same room with them.”
“Well, it’s probably a good idea for us to take this year off like the pastor and First Lady did. Maybe we could get someone to cater our Thanksgiving meal. Then, we can sit and enjoy the parade on television for once.”
“That sounds good to me. I’ll make some calls.”
On Thanksgiving morning, Deacon Jackson and his wife sat in front of the television, drinking coffee and watching the parade while their church members gathered to prepare the Thanksgiving meal. By midday, everything smelled delicious and looked wonderful. The pastor and the First Lady arrived in time to bless the food and serve their guest personally. The First Lady hugged each one of them and escorted them to their tables. Then, the pastor and the servers started to bring meals and beverages to the tables.
Once everyone had been served and offered seconds, the first lady walked over to Sonya and gave her a hug. “Everything looks beautiful. Thank you for helping us put this all together. Will you go into the kitchen and get Deacon Jackson and his lovely wife, Dawn? We would like to honor them with a special plaque and praise them for their hard work and dedication over the years. You know they’ve been with us from the beginning, so it’s only right for us to release this ministry to them and allow them to implement the ideas they’d mentioned to us over the years. You’re new to our church, but Sister Dawn wants to set up times for our guest to come to the church and shower before the meal. Then, she would like to give the men fresh clothes and the women a nice makeover. She’d also like to add chocolate cake to the menu, but I never gave her the go ahead.” She paused for a moment. Then she said, “It’s time.”
“Oh, that all sounds nice, but they aren’t here.”
“Well, when they heard you wouldn’t be preparing the meal this year, they decided to take a break. I got the feeling that they didn’t want to do it without you.”
The First Lady frowned. “But that makes no sense. It shouldn’t matter if we are here. The homeless community will be here, and they’re depending on us to represent Christ in this moment.”
The pastor walks over and she fills him in on everything. “…I don’t understand why they wouldn’t come.”
The pastor shook his head and said, “Some people are saved but stuck because of the motives in their heart, and we have to pray for them.”
His statement grieved the first lady, so she asked to speak with her husband alone. “We’re not talking about just anyone here. We’re talking about Deacon Jackson and Sister Dawn. They’ve been with us longer than anyone.”
“You’re right. They’ve been with us, but have they been walking with the Lord? I don’t know. It sounds like soul searching time to me.”
Soul Searching Moment
I hope you enjoyed our first Soul Searching Short Story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Well, let’s take a moment to reflect. While it would be easy to get on our high horse and judge Deacon Jackson and his wife Sister Dawn, we might have a little of them in us. So the question is: Are you following man or Christ? I had to take a long hard look at myself. Sometimes I am more motivated by the person leading the event than I am Christ, who called me to be salt and light on the Earth. As we prepare to serve our community this Thanksgiving, we must remember that we give because God loved us so much that he GAVE his one and only son. Just think about it. Then, go to the Father and pray about it.
#Soul Searching with Our Father#