When my boys were little, we loved the books “Where’s Waldo?” They are large picture books with multitudes of people on every page and the point was to find the one goofy guy with the striped beanie, blue pants, and glasses that was somewhere in the picture. Sometimes he was on the beach, or in the mall, or at the park. But he was always there, and there was only one. And once you found Waldo, you could never look at the picture again without seeing him. It was a pretty great concept, from a publisher’s perspective. The books would always be in demand, because in order to play the game, they constantly had to print more books. I loved finding him first and then waiting for my boys to spot him. We spent many happy hours entertained this way and I hope my boys remember as fondly as I do.
When I became a Christian, it didn’t change my desire to be ‘in the know.’ I wanted to be in every group, take every class, get to know every Pastor and person on staff at the church. I wanted to be the person that could answer the questions, fill in when there was a vacancy, be a part of every outreach, make the coffee, and even print the bulletins when we ran out. I wanted to be useful ‘go-to’ person..the Waldo-finder for everyone who needed something.
But once you see and once you know, then things change. Yeah, you have access behind the scenes and that’s pretty cool. But you also find the skeletons. You hear and see too much of the back story. Like how the Pastor is in trouble for his porn addiction, or that the secretary abuses alcohol, or that the guys on the worship team cuss like sailors. In other words,you find out the people leading the church are just like everyone else. Because everyone struggles with sin. Everyone needs Jesus, The one and only Savior, to save us from ourselves and to deliver us from the consequences we so rightly deserve..an eternity in hell. Amen and Amen! But once you know, you can’t not know. Once you’ve seen Waldo in the picture, you can’t unsee him. And in order to continue enjoying the game, you’ll need to get another book. But life isn’t like that, is it? You can’t just go to the library or bookstore and pick up a new and shiny life (or church) just so you can keep playing the game.
So you grumble. So you complain. So you mutter under your breath and doubt the credibility of a preacher to teach The Word when he obviously has so many problems he needs to address in his own life. And you stop enjoying Sunday morning worship and the message because you can only see what’s wrong and you don’t notice what’s right about anything at the church at all anymore. At least, that’s what happened to me. I lost the magic of total abandonment and the freedom of giving it all to God because I was sitting in judgement of my fellow man. It was wrong and horrible and painful, but once I saw, I couldn’t go back. And the divorce from my church was inevitable after that.
We have a new church now. It’s big and no one even knows me yet. I don’t know the secretary or the Pastor’s assistant and I’m okay with that. I go to church and worship and listen to the message and I don’t even look around (too much) and I enjoy the moments of total abandonment to my God without worrying about anything else. That’s how it’s supposed to be. And this time, I won’t look for Waldo. I don’t want to be the go-to girl or fill in for anyone else. I don’t want to answer any questions or be behind the scenes of this church. And if I do happen to spy that little bespectacled guy with the blue pants and the striped beanie, I think I’ll just look the other way!