My family left me at church one Sunday.
Nobody realized the 9 year old girl wasn’t with them until they answered the phone and heard my voice on the other line.
As a bit of explanation, I am the baby of the family. My parents had a 10 year old son and an 8 year old daughter. The family was complete – or so they thought. They had sold the baby furniture and the toys and figured the days of dirty diapers and Sesame Street were long gone. And then I came along – a huge surprise to everyone. Thus, I became everyone’s baby. I grew up with each person being older and taking care of me. Even now, there is rarely a day that goes by that my brother doesn’t call me, make me laugh, and offer unsolicited brotherly advice. Now that I have established some background, I will return to the story at hand.
Our church service consisted of Worship the first hour and Sunday school the second hour. That morning, I made the 20 minute drive to church with my parents. My sister, who was 17, drove separately that morning. My brother, who was 19, was on college break. He drove in from college that morning and met us for the 9:00 Worship service. Five people, three different vehicles, yet we all convened and sat together as a family for the service, before we each went to Sunday school. The Sunday school bell rang and I waited for a member of my family to come get me. Usually the first one to be picked up, I watched as David left. Then Tammy. Said goodbye to John, Kaci, Heather, Stephanie. Stuck my head out a few times to look for a member of my family. Nope. Finally, it was clear nobody was coming. Since cell phones were unheard of, some sweet soul took me to the Church Library where I phoned my parents. Twenty-five minutes later my mother arrived and did her best to prove Child Protective Services really weren’t needed.
“I thought you were going to pick her up and bring her home,” said the parents.
“But I thought she wanted to ride with you,” said the sister.
“I assumed she would ride home in the same car she rode to church in,” said the brother.
SOMEBODY ELSE WILL TAKE CARE OF IT
They each thought it was the other’s responsibility to take me home. It was our own version of The Bystander Effect – the phenomenon in which the greater the number of people present, the less likely people are to help a person in distress.
Somebody else will visit the sick. I wouldn’t know what to say.
That lady will minister to the hurting young woman. She’s better at that.
There will be so many people at visitation they will never know we aren’t there.
I don’t know her well enough to ask her about her faith. She has plenty of Christian friends who are surely talking to her.
Throughout the Bible, we find examples of The Bystander Effect, passing the buck, and making excuses. A classic example:
“A man prepared a great feast and sent out many invitations. When the banquet was ready, he sent his servant to tell the guests, ‘Come, the banquet is ready.’ But they all began making excuses. One said, ‘I have just bought a field and must inspect it. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I have just bought five pairs of oxen, and I want to try them out. Please excuse me.’ Another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’” – Luke 14:16-20
Each person had an excuse as to why they couldn’t attend.
My brother and sister each thought the other one was taking me home. How many times do I think my brothers and sisters in Christ are taking others home to the Father?
IT’S UP TO ME
For we must all stand before Christ to be judged. We will each receive whatever we deserve for the good or evil we have done in this earthly body. – 2nd Corinthians 5:10
I never doubted for a second that someone wouldn’t come find me. Open arms, hugs, apologies, and gifts from everyone. It was fantastic! In fact, it was so incredible that I prayed they would forget me again the next Sunday! It was even more exciting when I arrived back home to more hugs. I can only imagine what it will be like when we finally arrive Home and see our Father. I can’t wait for that reunion. But I must remember that it isn’t someone else’s responsibility to make sure others know the way to Heaven. I can’t assume that someone else will share the gospel with others. I can’t make excuses for not sharing the gospel to the lost. When I stand in Judgment, I don’t want to be held accountable for leaving others behind and not sharing the love of God.