The Spiritual Timeline Of A Bible Belt Boy

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He was born with great potential. Mom and dad were pillars of their church. They were always there. They were the unofficial leaders of the church. It was assumed, even before he was born, that he would take their place.

When he was a kid, it looked like that assumption would come to pass. He was the first one to raise his hand when his Sunday School teacher asked a question. He was the first one to get the attention whenever an adult felt like publicly praising some of the kids in the church. The future was bright for the boy. It was assumed.

But the Sunday School years ended and gave way to the teenage years. The Rebellious Teenage Years. Right around the time when he turned 16 and didn’t need a ride from mom and dad anymore, church stopped being a requirement and started being an option. An option, that is, that was rarely ever chosen. But he would come around. All teenagers go through phases like this one. But the ones who grew up in good homes and went to good churches would eventually come back around. Surely, this boy would be no different. It was assumed.

In college, the boy started hearing things that chipped away at the foundation his parents had built for him. Up until this time, church wasn’t a big part of his life but he still seemed to carry the things that he had learned there as a kid. Now, those teachings were being questioned. Maybe truth really was just arrogance in disguise. Maybe Christianity was just an elaborate hoax. He wasn’t sure. All he knew was that that night’s party was going to be fun. And girls would be there. And everything would work out in the end. Or so he assumed.

He started spending more time with one of the girls at that party. After a few months of dating, they were engaged. The summer after graduation, they were married. Two years after that, they had kids. Now, like any respectable set of parents in the Bible Belt, the couple decided to go back to church. Actually, the wife decided. Our boy just kind of followed along in hopes of avoiding another pointless argument. But the experts were right. The boy did come back to his old church. He would be the pillar his parents had been after all. It was assumed.

But then little league baseball happened. And soccer. And dance recitals. And much needed weekends away. Suddenly, one or two busy weekends turned into a lifestyle of busyness. And before the family reached the point of overload they made the decision, without ever really even talking about it, to cut some things out. One of those things was church. But it was okay. It’s not as bad as it sounds. They would still send their kids to a Christian school just like the one they had gone to. They would still occasionally talk about the Bible. The boy who had become a busy husband and father reasoned to himself that he cut back on his church attendance when he was his kids age and he turned out okay. Sort of. Surely they would be just fine. It was assumed.

Before he knew it, the kids were gone. And he had retired from his job with a solid financial portfolio. Time and money were his to burn. So that’s what he did. When he was coaching little league teams and filming dance recitals, it was the busyness of doing the right thing that kept him away. Now, it was the busyness of having fun. There were trips to take. There were once in a lifetime events to go to. Later, there were grandkids to visit. Still, the church days of his youth nagged him. He convinced himself that now was the time to get back. So he would, he assumed, find his way back to church.

And he did. On a Tuesday morning at 11:00. There was a pretty good crowd. His wife was there. His kids were there. Their kids were there. A few friends were there. And he was too. In a casket, right at the front of the church. That wasn’t the way that he had planned to make it back to the small but unforgettable church of his youth.

The pastor stood up to say a few words after a long time family friend sang In the Garden. The young reverend said what he was supposed to say. He read Psalm 23. He talked about what a great father our boy was. He told funny stories. But when it was time to get down to business, the pastor hesitated. He wanted to talk about streets of gold. He wanted to say something about being with Jesus. But he didn’t know that for sure. The young boy who started out with so much potential and a firm foundation hadn’t done anything even closely resembling following Jesus for several decades. He wasn’t a bad person. But the pastor didn’t know if he was a saved person.

Finally, the pastor spoke of matters relating to eternity.

“He’s in a better place now.”

But the pastor didn’t say that with any certainty.

He just assumed.

Just like everyone else in the Bible Belt likes to do when it comes to matters of faith, life and death.

But assumptions, as you may know, aren’t always truth.

Especially in the Bible Belt.

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