Monday, July 18, 2016

The Phantom of the Church (True Story)

Once upon a time,

     in a far away land (Mississippi),

          a long, long time ago (who remembers second grade?!),

I made a friend.

Her name was, well, let's call her Hannah.

I met Hannah at church, where both of our families attended at the time. We went to the same Sunday School class. Hannah told me, quite proudly, that she was saved. But that wasn't surprising, as most second graders had already prayed the prayer.

We never got to know each other terribly well, as seven year olds usually focus their conversations around favorite colors and school subjects, but we eventually got to that special place of sharing Sunday School prize candy, and we were even allowed to sit together in church sometimes, as long as we promised to be extra quiet.

After an undocumented amount of time, Hannah's family switched churches. I got news a few months later (from a reliable source) that her parents divorced. Occasionally, over the following few years, Hannah, her little sister, and one parent would been seen "darkening the doors of the church", but even then, Hannah was depressed and not much of a friend. I told myself that she must have just forgotten about me, but even na├»ve little me knew it was something deeper than that which totally transformed my former friend into an entirely different person.

The church is haunted by her even to this day.

Nope. I'm not kidding.

I'm dead serious.

Even though, as far as I know, Hannah is still alive, and surely her sister and parents, too, their absence is felt.

Have you ever read of, or perchance you know personally, someone who has experienced an amputation?

I've heard and read over and over again about the phantom pains, like it feels like the limb is still there, and it hurts, even though it's gone. And there's no good way to help someone through that, either, as far as I know.

Well, even though I do, in fact, have all of my limbs in tact, I know a little bit of what that feels like.

It feels like pain. Sadness. A handicap. It feels like you have been wrongly debilitated. It's unnatural. You're missing something that belongs there.

As a Christian, I am not only given a share of heaven and eternal life, but I'm also grafted into a body. You might hear it referred to as "The Body of Christ" (see Romans 12:4-5).

Sometimes this is turned into a sermon on gifts and jealousy, like if you're the eye ball, you shouldn't be jealous of the foot. Yes, the foot can do things you can't. But you can do things the foot can't, too, Mr. Eye Ball!!

But seriously.

Look with me at the bigger picture.

If I'm the eye ball, and Hannah's the foot, now I can't go and see half as much as I could have.

I feel that absence.

Or I'm the foot. Don't freak out. I'm not segregating body parts here.

I'm a foot, and YOU are a hand.

You were born for helping, giving, working, and being a blessing. I'm just supposed to get you there.

But if I get this body over there, and we're missing YOU (a hand), we aren't even going to be half as big of a blessing as we could have been with two strong, willing hands, now are we?! I have nothing against anybody one-handed, but I think they would all agree that they could probably do just a bit more if they had both.

Do you get what I'm saying?!

You are important to this body! Your absence is acutely felt! We could do so much more if we had you on our team!

And even if you are here, but just barely, come on... a missing hand verses a lame hand?!

Be all there!

Dive in!

It hurts us.

Yes, we notice when you aren't here! Not because it gives us something to gossip on, and throws us into a fit of judging, but because it injures this body we're all apart of.

We need you.

I'm challenging each of you. It doesn't matter where you are in the world. It doesn't matter what you've done. This Sunday morning, go to church.

We miss you.

I miss you.

For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.
-1 Corinthians 12:12


  1. Amen. I have had similar thoughts. Thanks for writing this post!--Libby

  2. This is similar in thoughts to that Open Letter to My Generation post that I did. What I think is sad is that every single Christian young person who is following God could write something like this too. Our hearts break for those we no longer see!! The number of "phantoms" is multiplying. :'( I need to take the time and effort to reach out and be an example to those younger than me...may I never be at fault for a new hole appearing!!

    1. Yes! Your Open Letter made me think of this specific girl- the "Hannah" I wrote about! You inspired me. :) But yes. Seriously, yes. It's *not* judgment we feel in our hearts towards those gone astray, but pain! May we always see through the eyes of the Holy Spirit, and bring them back in before they ever leave!


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