Among the aspects of modern major league baseball that I like to fuss about is the all-too-frequent, early, frequent substitution for pitchers. Time was when pitchers pitched complete games regularly. Today’s pitchers are wimps. Or their managers and pitching coaches and general managers and owners are worried about overusing million-dollar arms. Or both. Whatever the reason, “relief pitching” is a burgeoning enterprise because of all the pitching substitutions made in most games.
But this blog is about a different kind of substitution: the mental substitution that my wimpy soul finds necessary in certain church assemblies.
Here in this post, I decried an ineptitudinal trifecta — words, rhythm and melody all wrecked by a careless leader. And here in this one, I attempted to honor a dear sister, now in the land of the eternally living, who was an exemplar of worship “no matter what.”
And here, now, I’m back, expressing some similar frustrations about surface-level mistakes and distractions. If you’re one of the grace people who doesn’t have a critical bone in your body, you probably want to skip this. But if you want to understand those of us who become deeply discouraged and don’t know what to do about it, maybe try skimming this?
When song leaders skip beats willy-nilly and use unintelligible beat patterns that hinder instead of helping . . .
Or when announcement-makers bore me with impertinence . . .
I substitute studying my Greek flash cards, fueling my drive to know more of the ancient texts.
When punctuation is incorrect on the PowerPoint screen . . .
Or when the word “chasm” is mispronounced . . .
I substitute pondering a worthy lyrical expression for a few extra seconds or minutes. Recently, the words I chose were these:
I trust in God, no matter come what may,
For life eternal is in His hands.
When public prayer voices are humdrum, monotonous, or sing-songy, turning off my spiritual perceptions and energies . . .
Or when prayer seems eternal (ignoring our time-bound hind ends and attention spans) or consists almost entirely in lists of names that I don’t know . . .
I try to substitute my own praying (but I don’t always do so well on this one).
Today, even when there are several relatively viable options for church in Arkansas, we’re substituting a nonstandard gathering in a home with some old friends. We look forward to it.