There are times in an organization’s life when a celebration is required.
On April 7, Charlotte Rescue Mission dedicated Community Matters Café. It is a coffeeshop/café designed to teach life skills to men and women who graduated from the mission’s long-term Rebound and Dove’s Nest addiction recovery programs. I wanted this to be a celebration that we opened the café only because God showed up.
There were two individuals from out of state I invited to attend. One was Aunt Mickey from New Jersey. The other was Carl, my state commander when I was ordained to ministry in 1981.
As time went on, I had this feeling that neither one was able to attend. I would call my aunt to confirm she was planning to attend. I didn’t get the feeling I was on her dance card. She said yes, but there seemed to be some hesitation in her voice.
When I would text Carl, I got a “I think we are coming.” That sounded like a definite maybe.
Plans were being made for the dedication ceremony. We ordered a tent that seated 300 people (over 500 people came to the dedication). Musicians were lined up. Over 700 double sandwich cookies were made.
At my home, other preparations were being made. Carpets had to be shampooed. That meant I had to clear everything out of the bonus room by myself during a time when my wife was recovering from surgery. Once the carpets were cleaned, everything had to be moved back into it. Thirty-six bags of mulch were spread out over the front of the property. Not only did we paint the hall bathroom, we replaced its “pink” toilet seat with a white one. We were all set for our out-of-town guests to celebrate with us.
I called my aunt. She wasn’t coming. She injured her knees stepping on a ladder, taking down drapes to wash them and putting them back up. I jokingly reminded her that you don’t wash drapes. You wait until the dust mites eat them and then you replace them. She didn’t think that was funny.
Carl was unable to attend. He had to join his step-daughter who was traveling across the country to visit a university she was considering attending. I thanked him for letting me know.
I was deeply disappointed both had canceled. Yet I could sense God asking me “why” I was so upset on their decisions not to attend. I realized I was secretly looking for their approval.
Growing up among many cousins, I was the one who couldn’t walk and chew bubble gum. Did I want the family to see I wasn’t who I was when I was younger?
Carl’s approval would have really been my father’s approval. When my dad died, I asked my mother if my father was ever proud of me. Of course she said “yes.” I never believed her.
Although I was disappointed they didn’t come, I was also glad they chose not to join us. It was when they didn’t show up, when they didn’t pat me on the back, when they didn’t say, “Well done thou good and faithful servant” that I had the chance to hear a different message from my heavenly Father.
He didn’t say he was proud of me. Rather, God just put His arms around me and said, “You will never know how much I love you.” That was better than being told anything either one could have said to me at the dedication ceremony.
I’ll be back soon. Until then, live well my friend.
The Rev. Tony Marciano is the president/CEO of the Charlotte Rescue Mission. He is available to speak to your group. Visit www.charlotterescuemission.org for details.