I'm the kind of person who skips to the conversation when reading a book.
Seriously, I was all set to complain in church about church. I was more than a little peeved.
The reason? The scripture reading.
Okay, granted the lady who read the scripture is a day care provider and spends all her time with pre-school types. Granted she loves her little “cherubs,” as she calls them, and gets all gushy anytime she talks about them. Granted she is probably a fantastic day care provider — the soft, squishy, round, grandmotherly type that working mothers long for. But do you have to read the scripture to me like I’m three years old?! And that really wasn’t what irked me. It was that she was reading from one of those children’s bibles that doesn’t stay true to scripture.
Irked. That’s what I was.
The scripture was from Deuteronomy 26:1-11. It’s about giving back to the Lord as a way of thanking Him for His provision in our lives. The version that was read turned it into a story about being nice.
After the scripture reading, I sat in the pew carefully crafting the words I would say to the pastor. I don’t usually complain, but this was good cause. I would complain about the version of the Bible that was used for scripture. I would complain about that whole scripture reading, because it was done after the children had been dismissed for children’s church. They weren’t even there for the ooey, gooey, lollipops and rainbows reading!
Then the pastor got up to speak.
“Today we’re going to talk about gratitude, about being thankful,” Pastor A said. “Do you know what the opposite of gratitude is? It’s complaining.”
Was Pastor A looking straight at me? Could Pastor A see my heart?
A song from 30 years ago come flooding back to me. Noel Paul Stookey, the Paul of Peter, Paul & Mary, sang a little song called Then the Quail Came.
Then the Quail Came
Band & Bodyworks
©1975 Gotz Music
There we were, hungry and scared, wishing we never had come
Homes on our backs, dust in our hair, cursing the day we’d begun
“Tell me I ask you,” a friend of mine said,
“Was it so bad where we were?”
“We didn’t have to come here to be dead, was what we had so unsure?”
Then the quail came, falling like dew on the ground
The quail came, each evening our food to be found
And taking our curses and turning ’em round
And filling our ears with those ungrateful sounds
Unworthy to stand
I bow down
There we were, angry and naked, looking for someone to blame
Our bodies were aching, babies were crying
And each day was so much the same
“I tell you people, this journey is crazy.”
I heard someone say in his rage
“How long will it be ’till we realize our folly
And get back to where we were safe?”
Here we are, alone on a desert, fed dawn to dark, dusk to day
Every morning we wake up to find just the measure
Of food we need for the way
Oh once we would ask if we could have more
To see that our future survived
But we know now at last, that nothing is sure
Except that at evening the quail will arrive
I am so unworthy to stand. I find such silly things to complain about, like the way a scripture passage is read.
I am one of the richest people in the world. We have a roof over our heads and food in our refrigerator. I have a husband who tenderly cares for me, children who challenge and inspire me, friends who support me, and a God who loves me.
Oh, Lord, teach me to have a grateful heart.