Here's Pastor Dave McDowell's weekly devotional that he sends out to members of his church. Dave is my brother and serves as the Music Minister at Stewartstown UMC in PA.
First pitch for the ballgame was set for
so the national anthem was to be sung at
My youth choir of 38 had the honors that evening.
So we arrived at the stadium guest services at ,
just as instructed.
We've sung the anthem at othe pro-sports events
so we knew the drill.
But it takes some time
to organize the rows of singers by section and height,
to practice moving to and from the site,
let alone practice the anthem.
We were still standing at guest services
The folks at guest services told me that someone on staff
was indeed on their way
I am now more than concerned.
Guest services assured me that we hadn't been forgotten.
I was panicking.
So I asked God what to do.
He helped me understand that there was nothing that we needed to do,
that couldn't be done right where we were.
I gathered the 38 in a back corner of the concourse
next to the popcorn vendor,
and lined the singers in rows.
We practiced the anthem.
The customer at the popcorn stand
didn't know whether to put his hand over his heart
or ask for extra butter.
The popcorn was still moving
but we weren't.
The staff person finally arrived.
We were ushered into the lower portion of the stadium.
Within minutes, our 38 strong were being escorted to home plate.
It was a matter of seconds till we were to sing.
I passed the starting pitch to all voice sections.
That's when I noticed the singers all beginning to laugh at me.
As a male, I could only assume that meant
my fly was down in front of 10,000 people.
I checked. I was fine.
Actually I wasn't fine.
Homer, the dragon, the team mascot was inches behind me.
I was attempting to prepare my young people to sing
in front of 10,000 people,
and Homer just wanted to tweak my nose.....
Now call me unusual,
but I do have an aversion to human beings
dressed in stuffed animal/fantasy costumes.
Perhaps I was traumatized as a child
by red haired clowns at fast food restaurants.
Maybe its because I can see the eyes of an overheated human being
pleadingly staring at me through the mouth hole.
Maybe it's because no matter what you say to them,
you know they can't talk back to you.
Or maybe, just maybe,
I don't like oversized sweaty paws touching me.
Now, don't call me irrational.
I have no problem with a dancing cow alongside the road
trying to coax me into a restaurant,
or a statue of liberty using his beacon of light
to lead me to tax freedom.......
But put an oversized stuffed panda bear wearing an apron
into my personal space???
then we have problems.
Homer gave me a hug,
a BIG hug.
Then he gave me another hug.
Then he tapped me on my rear.
I was pretty sure if I punched Homer,
I would traumatize thousands of children in attendance,
and likely be evicted from the game.
60 seconds from singing the anthem
and Homer is now attempting to put my head
inside his oversized dragon jaws.
While I normally would have seen this as the final straw in any relationship,
I chose to maturely understand it as a grand opportunity
to speak in private to the human being
underneath the 6 inches of sweaty dragon padding,
I will not tell you what I said to Homer in the privacy of his jaws,
but I will say that it was enough for this dragon
to release me and move forever to his side of the moat.
Now free from the dragon's grip,
I raised my arm
and 38 young people came in on the downbeat,
and nailed the anthem in spectacular fashion.
I call it the moment of reckoning.
Have you ever had one of those?
That moment when you are in the belly (or jaws) of the beast
and you need to decide what to do.
Sometimes it needs to be an instantaneous decision,
such as fight or flight.
Sometimes, it's a bigger life decision
and you have more time in the belly to think it through..
Jonah certainly had that experience.
He was swallowed by the great fish,
because he was running from God.
Three days in the luxurious privacy of the fish's digestive system,
showed him that he was headed in the wrong direction.
He was swallowed in as a coward,
and vomited out as a evangelist.
Perhaps you have to decide a response to a difficult situation
in a matter of moments,
or perhaps you have more time to think about something bigger,
a life changing decision.
Whatever it is,
running from God and His will
is never the answer.
If we think we can do that,
we are only fooling ourselves,
for God is in charge of all things.
It's God who is in control of things, not us.
If you are only given a moment to decide,
call on His name.
If are given three days, or three months,
call on His name.
When the decision is made in the name of Jesus,
you won't regret it........... ever.
As we walked off the baseball field,
Homer wanted to kiss and make up.
I high fived him.
Ain't no dragon bigger than my Jesus......
I called out of my distress to the Lord,
and He answered me.
I cried for help from the depth of Sheol;
Thou didst hear my voice.