Wednesday, April 22, 2009


This morning I was listening to Erwin McManus preach on the Mosaic podcast when a totally unrelated stream of thought grabbed me. Something Erwin said reminded me of a scene toward the end of The Princess Diaries in which the main guy character in the movie asks Anne Hathaway’s character why she chose him of all people to escort her to the coronation ball. Her reply: “Because you saw me when I was invisible.”

That reminder brought tears to my eyes as I remembered what happened at a youth retreat I led in 1986 as I was serving a church as a summer youth ministry intern. We were at Harrison Chilhowee Baptist Academy near Maryville, TN. There were probably 30 teenagers with us, but the key players in the story were a huge contrast in personalities. Jim (not his real name) was about 14. He was one of those kids that acted like a party just looking for a place to happen. He wore bright clothes (remember “jams”?) and had red hair with a personality to match. A couple of years older than Jim, Karen (again, not her real name) was a good, sweet kid. She was one of my favorites in the group, but she just kind of fit in without drawing attention to herself. Try as we might, we couldn’t ignore Jim … and the really agrravating thing was that he was so hard not to like. Karen was no less likeable, but she just easily disappeared in a crowd.

Thursday morning, Jim overslept and none of his bunkmates gave him the courtesy of waking him. Our daily schedule included “morning watch” before breakfast, and Jim’s absence was conspicuous. Because he tended to be obnoxious, I decided we’d return the favor in waking him up. I didn’t care if he didn’t like morning watch, he had to endure it just like the rest of the group. So I led the whole group in yelling toward the dorm to wake him up. It took several tries, but we finally roused him.

I had forgotten that Karen had overslept the previous morning and didn’t join the group until halfway through breakfast. When Jim wasn’t there, we yelled and woke him up … when Karen wasn’t there, we did nothing. So Thursday afternoon during free time, Karen went to the dorm, wrote a note, and swallowed more than half a bottle of Tylenol. Tylenol is not particularly toxic, but she did have to be taken to the local ER to remove it from her system. There’s more to the story than that, but the long and the short of it is that, though she was physically OK she needed some help (and got it) in order to get OK emotionally.

Some people want (and need) to be the center of attention, others really don’t … but nobody wants to be invisible. Some people will never know that they matter to God until they know that they matter to the people of God. That’s one reason we pass the peace of Christ in worship every Sunday. That’s enough to think about for now. The peace of Christ to you.


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