MY ONE ROOM CHURCH HOUSE
(Trussville, AL USA)
But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you." (Matthew 6:6)
I had just sat down in the customer lobby of our local indoor shopping mall, waiting for the wife and daughter to finish shopping when I happened to look up and there he was, my old college roommate jogging down the mall walkway.
"Hey, hey you!" I shouted out his name.
Instantly responding, he quickly stopped to greet me, followed by his once famed old college days bear hug. Then came his well-known boisterous laughter. And after regaining my breath then came the traditional customary old college greeting, including our secret fraternity handshake.
"Well, if it isn't my old pal from our college days! Where on earth have you been, all these years?" he exclaimed.
"Why, It's been forever. Maybe ten, twenty years, or so. I just seem to have lost track of time. So what have you been up to all these years?" I continued our joyful greeting.
I could sense my old pal seemed rather anxious to talk about his profession. Seizing the moment, he commenced announcing to me and the entire mall audience, "I'm a proud high school football coach! And we have won four state championships!" he replied patting himself on the back, so to speak.
"I'm sure you probably may not remember, but coaching was my lifelong dream all the way through high school," he smilingly roared on.
"And you, my long lost college buddy, what are you up to these days? Probably that multi-millionaire you always dreamed of being in college," he joked under his breath.
"Oh nothing exciting or worth talking about, I'm just another of those boring architects," I explained shamefacedly.
"Now, don't sell yourself short, pal, a very respectful profession you have there," he seemed to continue rather condescendingly.
After a long exchanged of sit down chit-chat, and a swapping of email addresses and phone numbers, we finally said our good-byes.
"Wow, that was quite an experience! Imagine seeing him here at the mall after all those years, I think I'll go home now, rest a bit and be off to bed. I just know I'll sleep tight after all this unexpected excitement," I concluded under my breath.
Going home, I couldn't help but reminisce a little as I drove. What a day this had been!
Then it happened, another of those recurring wild dreams I've been having. All of a sudden, sitting at the very end of my bed, in front of an old-fashioned architect's drawing board was this outlandish looking character. He was dressed in an outdated architect's smock apron, the pockets containing what must have been hundreds of drawing pencils.
Looking at me and holding up a poster board, he smiled and asked how I liked his house plan draft.
Seeing this simple architectural drawing, I couldn't help myself, I laughed out loud. I think I might have hurt his feelings. After a long hesitation, I finally got the nerve to ask.
"Why this is a one-room house with only room for one person," I exclaimed.
Seeing that it was apparently too late, I knew I had said the wrong thing, for my remarks prompted appeared to be a sermon and a tear or two.
"You are so right, it's made for just one. You see in Biblical terms, this one room alone is made to hold just one. One person and the glory of God. A one room church, if you will."
"It's a prime example of one's faith. (Hebrews 11:1, 6) No one else could be in this house and witness the power of the glory of God. No one else could see the results of such a meeting."
And being well vested in Jewish lore, I can surely relate to its kind of holy of holies, so to speak. It's like the old Hebrew laws, like the innermost chamber of the Temple, where only the priest was allow to go only on Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the Jewish year. Kind of like this inner sanctuary where the act of atonement was given.
"So does this give you a different perspective of my draft of this one-room house?" asked the stranger.
"I suppose so," I replied rather bewildered. "And I get it. You must be some sort of a priest, empowered to get your message across."
"So let me ask just another question, if I may?" he said.
"Of course go ahead," I answered rather hesitantly.
"What would be the holiest place on earth for you, my friend?" he queried.
"Now I know! It's where I make it. It's the place that can obviously only contain one person, just me and the presence of God, be it a one room house, or any other place of secrecy totally separate from the rest of my life and from the world," I responded.
"Please continue on, my friend, I think you've got it," he replied.
"It's there and there only, where I can quietly and secretly find His presence, a place to hear His voice. It's the most important place of my dwelling, the only place where I can find His presence, hear His voice, and see His glory," I continued.
"Then another question. Does it just have to be a secluded one room dwelling?" he asked.
"Oh no," I replied. "It's anywhere His glory and I may be. It could be a prayer closet or even an isolated, out-of-the way cornfield. This one room house is simply a metaphoric place of quiet worship. And I feel you simply used your craft to drive home a point. Just who are you anyway? A prophet, an angel, a preacher, or maybe an apostle reincarnated?"
After I questioned this stranger's identity, he seemed to quickly pull away from his drawing board, as if he didn't want to answer as to his identity. He then immediately disappeared from my sight. Nonetheless, bizarre as it may seem, left behind was his drawing board containing a very large scroll.
My curiosity getting the better of me, I unfolded the scroll only to find a rather fitting Scripture passage.
"Do not forget to show hospitality to strangers, for by so doing some people have shown hospitality to angels without knowing it. (Hebrews 13:2)
And along with this particular Scripture was a hand-written note, which read, "Today is the day the Lord hath made. Go forth into your secret place of worship, apart from the world, and worship Him."
Then, as if by some sort of divine assistance, I suddenly awakened from my dream. Oh, I get it now. What timing, I thought. Yes, another of my recurring dreams, only this time I felt a divine need to heed this dream and instructions. And that I did.
I'll never again complain about my profession. I can't wait to email my Pal. I just know he will be thrilled, as he had always been rather religion minded.
And oh yes, I quickly figured it out. I now know just who this strange character was. He just didn't have the traditional cartoon wings and wasn't playing the iconic harp. Amen!
I remember well. Growing up, my church had a prayer room, where individuals could meditate in prayer. Oftentimes, entering this quiet prayer atmosphere felt just like a little touch of Heaven.
Yes, I miss those Good Old Days. For prayer is the real work of the church. All can't be Pastors, Elders or Deacons. All can't be physically active within the church. However, all members can pray. Thus, we all have our one room prayer closet.
"Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you." (Jeremiah 29:12)