FIRST-PERSON: The nerve of some people!

DORA, Ala. (BP) -- I witnessed a stampede the other day that might rival a grand opening sale, but in this case, it was a mass exodus of churchgoers leaving during the invitation. Yes, during, not after, the invitation.

While our choir, praise team and congregation sang "Let Faith Arise," an astounding number of people did just that: They rose. And then they departed.

As people were trying to come forward to the altar, they were battling the flow of outgoing church folks who were eager to beat the traffic out of the parking lot or the Methodists to Cracker Barrel. I'm not certain which was the case, but they were sure in a hurry.

Was this an extraordinary instance? Was the building on fire? Did I miss an evacuation warning? No. I merely sat in the balcony where I had a bird's-eye view of what was happening. The nerve of some people! I was appalled.

As others sat and prayed for those being ministered to and the decisions being made, the actions of these folks clearly said that the traffic or their lunch took precedence over all else. And yes, I'm sure there were a few people who had legitimate reasons for their early departure but certainly not the whole lot of them.

Why couldn't they stay in their seats a few minutes longer and pray for the decisions being made? Or pray for those who were wavering in indecision? Those moments could very well determine some people's eternal destiny.

What's that, Lord?

I need to repent of my own attitude?

What do You mean? I was the one staying in place. I was the one singing along with the invitation. What do I need to repent of?

So ... You're saying it's my focus. While these other people were headed out the door, my mind was following right along with them. Instead of praying for the decisions being made, I was fuming over the throng who were departing.

I see now, Lord. Staying in place may make me look more reverent, but if my mind has already left the service, I might as well not be there either. Yes, I've read that it's easier to see the speck in your brother's eye even when you've got a log in your own.

I must have some nerve. Forgive me, Father. Help me to spend my time in church in real worship. Help me to repent of my own faults instead of getting sidetracked by any kind of distraction. And help me to pray for others as I would want them to pray for me. Thank You for not giving up on me, Jesus. I'm a work in progress and I have a long, long way to go before I'm remotely what You would have me to be.

Judy Woodward Bates is a speaker and TV personality as well as the author of "Bargainomics: Money Management by the Book," on the Web at www.Bargainomics.com.
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