This has been my first week on the road as truck driver once again, and it’s been a tough adjustment. Saturday, I discovered my truck was leaking fuel. Therefore, my truck had to be towed to the nearest truck service place which was about 70-80 miles south. For truck drivers, if the wheels aren’t turning; you ain’t earning. Not only that, but since they towed me back the direction I had just come from, I don’t get paid for those miles either. It’s going to be a small pay check, but that’s just how it goes out on the road. Not all is bad though. I’ve been able to see some of the most beautiful sections of the country at one of the greatest times of the year. I have also been able to meet some great people in the process.
Since my truck broke down, I had to go to a hotel which is quite a bit better than sleeping in the sleeper of a truck. The Days Inn had the most comfortable bed I’ve slept in. I actually slept the whole night (which is very rare for me). I was also able to go to worship in a new place. This was a fairly new church, a plant from a church in Salem. Actually, it was what they call a campus ministry from the church in Salem. This means at times, they view the sermon through satellite on a couple projected screens. This may seem odd to some, but it would be nice to not have to listen to the same persons week after week. This church was a much larger than what I normally like, but it was a good experience.
It is an uncomfortable feeling to visit a new church especially when you walk in alone. Just last week I worshiped at Downtown Church in Searcy, and a preacher was talking about the need to greet people, especially when you see somebody alone. I have likewise encouraged this. But in a large church like Downtown, people aren’t usually stranger oriented. I don’t wish to criticize any church, and I really like what Downtown is doing, but it’s amazing how lonely you can feel in the midst of so many people; I felt so isolated. This isn’t unusual in large churches. Once churches get to a certain size, it’s pretty hard to know who the visitors are. I suppose that is why I have always clung to the smaller churches. But sometimes they don’t always do such a great job either. It’s uncomfortable talking to people you don’t know, but it is so necessary,
The church I visited today was not as large as downtown, but still fairly large. Lots of young people with children. I arrived early because I forgot about the time change. But this time I felt a lot more welcomed. Several people came up to talk to me. I was able to see a couple baptisms too which was really neat because each person who was getting baptized wrote a testimonial about their decision to get baptized. They were both kids, but what they wrote were very mature statements of faith. I was also invited to stick around for lunch after the services. They were having a special thing called rock the block after the assembly. They had all sorts of stuff set up in the parking lot for the children and young at heart. It was nice especially because I was accompanied by little elderly lady from who up in Long Island who I talked with as I ate.
I was really tempted to climb the big wall, but since I didn’t see anybody my age doing so, I resisted the urge. I asked the lady sitting with me if she would climb the wall with me but she said it was for kids and went on to describe her double knee replacement surgeries. They really need to make things like this for the adults. I like to play too. I spend the rest of the afternoon at the laundromat. I think everyone should have to experience the laundromat once in a while just to remember how fortunate they are to be able to do their laundry at home.
Roanoke, VA, is a very nice place. It is right on the edge of I-81 along the mountain range. It’s a very pretty, and friendly place from what I experienced. I know If I can, I will visit the church again when I can.
I think everybody should go to church alone every once in a while. Maybe that would help us to remember to go say hi to people we haven’t met before. We get so comfortable when we are among our friends and family that we often forget about the stranger. It is terribly lonely on the road. As one who has spend a lifetime moving from place to place, I can tell you, it’s never easy being the outsider. The church is meant to be a place for the lonely and struggling. We never know the stories of those who come through the doors, but one thing we can know when a person comes in alone: they are seeking to worship God, and they are seeking friendship.
Some people like to be alone, but nobody likes being lonely. And it can be very lonely inside of the largest crowds. I am so grateful for the church throughout the land where I can go and expect to be welcomed. My occupation has largely taken me away from much of the fellowship I could enjoy with a local church, but for now I will have to be content with what I can get.