Snap judgements frequently lead spirit awry

By Judy Brandon: Local columnist

This Father’s Day weekend, I remember a talk I had with my father when my attitude was less than Christianlike.

It was years ago and all the teenagers were sitting at the back of the church. As my minister father walked to the pulpit, a strange man stepped into the auditorium.

“Who is that?” I thought to myself.

He was 30 minutes late. “Doesn’t he know what time church starts?” I thought to myself as I looked at my watch.

The man was dressed in a stylish suit. “He must really be rich. That is an expensive suit and he probably is a showoff!” I thought.

Then I said to myself, “Sit down at the back … We are trying to worship here!” (I am sure the Lord was not pleased with me. I had been thinking of everything but the Lord by socializing in the back row with my friends.)

He didn’t sit down. He slowly strolled down the aisle.

“Well, you just want to be noticed,” I thought to myself. Finally he slowly sat in the second row from the front pew.

All during church I wondered about this man, who he was and what he was “up to.”

After church, I asked my daddy, “Did you see that guy? I guess he was just so proud that he was there. He wanted all of us to make sure that we noticed him too.” I shook my head like I couldn’t believe it.

Then Daddy said, “Well, Judy, I visited with him and it is not what you think. He is from Albuquerque and was traveling through. He found out this morning that his brother died suddenly in Dallas and he is driving through. He just felt the need to stop at church. He told me something about himself. Do you want to know?” Daddy asked.

“I suppose,” I said. I was already feeling badly at how I had reacted.

My father continued, “The man said that when he was a little boy he was burned in a house fire. The burns were so severe, it still is very painful for him to move quickly or turn quickly. That’s why he walked so slowly. When he was burned in this fire, there were some explosions, and he lost much of his hearing. He apologized for walking to the front after church started, but otherwise he wouldn’t have heard anything.”

Then he added, “Judy, you shouldn’t jump to conclusions.”

I was ashamed. He was late because he had no idea when church started. I thought he was arrogant and prideful because he walked slowly and held his head high. He was slow and held his head high because of his burn injuries. I thought he just wanted everyone to notice him. The fact was that he had a severe hearing loss and had to sit in the front.

Paul warned: “You then, why do you judge your brother? Or why do you look down on your brother? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. … So then, each of us will give an account of himself to God. Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another.” (Romans 14:10-13)

I may have been on time to church that night but God doesn’t think about time like we do. On that night long ago, God was listening to some ticking all right. It was the sound of my judgmental heart.

Judy Brandon is an instructor at Clovis Community College. Contact her at:
cbrandon@plateautel.net