Tom with kids in Kuwait

Tom with kids in Kuwait
Tom with kids in Kuwait

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

The vending machine is broken

Gotta git the kids to school
It’s the best day care around
Can’t go to work
Or they cut my welfare down.

Gotta git some money
So I go to the church
It feels kinda funny
But I’ve been through worse.

If I act like I’m am hurting
Wearing tattered clothes that I keep clean
And tell the preacher my man’s deserting
Maybe he’ll open the vending machine.

I’m squirming in my seat—it seems a little warm
But I go through the motions trying not to pout
Filled in all the blanks so I hand the man the form
I’ve played the came so the money comes out.

But it seems I’m getting nothing
It’s like someone pulled out the rug
The man looks at me and says,
The machine’s unplugged.

I start to panic and my eyes open wide
While he smiles and takes the Bible from the table
I want to git out or find a place to hide
The man says that the machine only enabled.

This is not the way I like it
I want to get my cash and go
Just a quick in and out—licitly split
But that’s all changed you know.

The rhythm’s not forced but natural
It’s not transactional in nature
Another person is connecting with me
Not just for now but for hereafter.

Preacher man’s talking living water and the bread of life as well
He’s not tempting me with heaven or scaring me with hell
But talking of this life in the here and now
How it could be lived more fully, would I like to know how?

My defenses kick in right away, longing for my vending machine
But I am challenged to live with purpose and not just for what pleases me.
I need to run for cover or just make a fast break for the door.
But my phone is on the table and my purse is on the floor.

Why is this so awkward—why so stinkin hard?
I wouldn’t even be here if I could get a credit card.
But the man just keeps on talking about giving my whole life to God
I’ll jump out through the window if he sings “Where the saints have trod.”

I just don’t want this connection—want to get my cash and go.
But the machine is not working, or so he tells me so.
But it is my disconnection that makes this so, so hard
The church has become the church again and not a credit card.

She has reclaimed her identity speaking truth in love again
Light and love and purpose trying to rescue me from sin
But I will have none of it, I will not fall for this sham
I am walking out that door right now, I’ll show them who I am.

But then I listened for but a moment and he tells me I am God’s child
That my Father loves me more than I deserve and I begin to cry
For though I came for money, I knew it wouldn’t last
When I finally listened I learned that I was not shackled by my past.

That in the name of Jesus, I was truly set free
Not from troubles of the world, but having to carry them you see
For this world will bring on its trouble and I’ll still have my part
But the words that reached to my core were the two that said, take heart!

If I get this bill paid somehow, I know that I will have more
I have not lived by God’s wisdom, haven’t even let it in the door
But in spite of all my troubles and beyond the height of all of my pain
I heard that Daddy loves me and I am ready to live again.

I thought I needed money when I came into the church
I thought the broken machine would leave me in the lurch
But somehow, someway, God’s way began to make some sense
When my eyes became wide open all I could do was repent.

For I know my Father loves me forever and even now
I know that I rejected him but he took that away somehow
And I know that I must seek his kingdom and also seek his ways
And leave the pity parties for those who remain blind unto this day.

I know that I am not alone, God’s Spirit walks with me.
And when I gather with some others, Jesus is there you see.
And the whole fellowship of believers welcomes me as their own
Now that I am connected, I never feel alone.

Somehow that billed got paid and I never knew by whom
Somehow my hurt has faded and my heart has lots of room
For Jesus and his family that took me in that day
I don’t want to go back the way I was now that I walk in his way.

This could have ended differently, I could have walked away
In fact that is just what I did, I can finally bring myself to say
I had come to see the preacher man to use his vending machine
When he told me it was broken, I left after making a big and bitter scene.

But an hour later as I approached the local store
Some kids were smiling and ran ahead of me to open up the door
And then they said God loves me and each gave me a big hug
Who are these kids who took my anger with a single heart’s tug?

Then before the day was over my neighbor came to see
If you can believe this, to see if all was well with me
We’ve only waved as we passed in the street and not spoken much before
But without thinking much about it, I opened up my door.

My heart was breaking and I was shaking why I didn’t know
I was in the safety of my own home, but surely wanted just to go
But here I was crying and talking and even opening up
I usually don’t get this way without some 90 proof in my cup.

But there it was all out and spoken, I readied for the worst
Here’s comes my judgment and my sentence, I am guilty in the first
Instead came mercy and kindness full of sincerity
In my tears I lost my blindness and knew that I was free.

I could not run away from God, he pursued me at every turn
Not so he could judge me and send me off to burn
But so that I would know his love and how deep and wide it is
And that in spite of all I’ve done, I am forever his.

I never heard a booming voice or saw a burning bush
His finger etched me no commandments—that would have been a rush
But in children and in neighbors and in the truth spoken in love
I felt my God’s Spirit come upon me as his descending Dove.

Now I am connected to the body, believers one and all
Though they all still have their troubles, some big and some ever so small
But we don’t throw pity parties, we pray and help and love
We encourage one another as brothers and sisters with Christ above.

I wonder what would have happened if the church had just paid my bill
I could have been smartly on my way living according to my own will
But I am thankful for the truth spoken to me full of love

And thankful for the fellowship I know now and will know some day above.

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