Fallen-through-the-Cracks People and the Church


Recently, Slate skewered the favored mantra of people who claim business success for themselves and therefore want you to know their secrets: “Do what you love. Love what you do.”

In “In the Name of Love,” Miya Tokumitsu notes how well this works for those chosen few who are not working an assembly line in Kokomo. As for those factory workers, the question of loving what they do looms large.

Not everyone gets a corner office. Sometimes, the destination is the basement mail room.

Nothing makes me ponder the vicissitudes of life more than that person who is one day an active presence in a church and then is gone.

In my own Christian experience, the following example people eventually fall through the cracks of our church programming:

FallingThe family with the unruly special needs child, the kid that hoots and hollers sometimes during a quiet Sunday meeting. That harried mom and dad who got one too many stares one Sunday and then weren’t there the next to receive more.

The guys who didn’t grab the brass ring. Often, they seem to be general workmen, “handymen” as it were. They did the odd job, but didn’t do it often enough. One week they are in church, and the next they are gone.

The divorced, diabetic, unemployed mother with the teenage daughter that can’t seem to stop having illegitimate kids. The whole melange lives in a trailer on the outskirts of town, and they come to church now and then, until they get one too many looks or lectures.

The healthy guy who one day stops being so healthy due to the predations of a chronic illness. He used to sit in that back pew near the windows. One Sunday, he was there, and now he’s not.

The cute single gal who gets the dark thoughts that descend on her at random, when her pretty face becomes a mask, and no one knows just what to say. Whatever happened to her? You remember her, don’t you?

I remember.

I wish I knew what happened to these people and why it may be their presence no longer darkens the nave.

I also wonder if the following is more true of them than of the people they leave behind:

Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted…
—2 Timothy 3:12 ESV

We don’t think of the fallen-through-the-cracks people as desiring to live a godly life in Christ Jesus, do we?

But don’t they? In fact, could it be they may have wanted that more than the folks with whom they may have once shared a pew?

Do we think of them as persecuted?

And did we become the persecutors?

There’s a success idol in the Church today. We have our own forms of “do what you love and love what you do.” We find spiritual ways to take our own successes and to project them onto others and ask why that person or persons is not duplicating our achievements. How is it they are still in the basement and not in the corner office? Must be sin in their life. They must be hiding something. Or they’re lazy. Maybe they don’t read their Bible enough.

A group of men had an encounter with a fallen-through-the-cracks person:

As he passed by, [Jesus] saw a man blind from birth. And his disciples asked him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him. We must work the works of him who sent me while it is day; night is coming, when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world.”
—John 9:1-5 ESV

That the works of God might be displayed in the lives of the fallen-through-the-cracks people.

We must work the works of the One who sent us.

Night is coming.

But the Light is still here. For now. Among us. In us.

Sadly, some of us are the ones doing the pushing that results in the fall through the cracks for someone else, someone who desperately didn’t want to fall. We must stop making the problem worse.

Instead, our task is to grab onto falling people and set them on their feet again.

What a Week…


My wife endured a devastating car wreck on Wednesday that totaled our Corolla, the man who was one of the reasons my wife and I are at our church died unexpectedly, my son is home yet again with vomiting, and today—Friday, of all days—I am just now beginning to get back to work.

In what can only be deemed God’s intervention, my wife walked away with little more than a small bump above her right eye after being in a high-speed rollover. We suspect she hydroplaned after encountering a downpour on a slick road, tried to correct the slide, the wheels eventually bit, and the direction when they bit was off the road—speed did the rest (although the investigation showed she was driving the recommended speed for the conditions). County roads around here are raised in open areas to prevent snowdrifts, so when she left the road, the car was naturally put into a position of flipping when it went down the steep embankment.

The veteran police officer at the scene noted that the reason she wasn’t hurt at all was because she was driving a Japanese car. He said that a wreck in a similar American car would have severely injured or killed the driver. And you expect to hear mom, apple pie, and Chevrolet out of cops, don’t you? I put more faith in God than the Japanese, but still, there’s a reason I’ve only owned Hondas, Toyotas, and Mazdas.

So we’re looking for a high-MPG, low-mileage, used car from one of those manufacturers. Being the green types that we are (and were before it became trendy), we’d love to get a gently used, late-model Prius, but then so does everyone else on the planet, if my searches so far are accurate. The average used Prius stays on the market about 5 nanoseconds, I think. If you have a line on a car and would like to pass it along, please drop me a note at the email address listed in the top of the right sidebar.


One accident has a miraculous outcome, while another does not. In what was a highly preventable situation that created a cascade of events that ended badly, the pastor emeritus of our church fainted while speaking on Sunday. We all thought he would recover, and it sure looked as if he would. But the fall he sustained created some hidden damage that spiraled out of medical control as the days progressed. The night of my wife’s accident, he passed away.

He and his wife were so kind to us when we first came that it made an immediate impression. Carl was like a father to many in the church, and such men are not easily replaced as they are so rare to begin with. Though he was pushing 80, he should have been with us for more years. Sometimes, events are what they are, though. And God is always in control. Still, this is a sad, sad loss.

My son has missed a number of days of school in the last month with morning vomiting that comes out of nowhere. No fever, no other signs of problems, but then BARF! I’ve talked to other parents whose kids are having the same problem. No idea what this is, especially as he’ll go several days with no problems, only to have the vomiting return. So it’s off to the doc today.

It just seems crazy around here lately, so I’ve been working nutty hours, and the toll of staying up late to get work done in the quiet of the evening has taken it out of me. Obviously, searching for a new car and taking on debt that we don’t want to assume doesn’t help, either. (It makes me wonder how anyone can afford to buy a decent car, what with payments closing in on $500/month for even a used late model.) I’m depressed already thinking about the inevitable size of the insurance check. Trade-in value on a car that is in good condition and is paid for seems like far less than the vehicle is worth, especially since you can never replace it for that price.

But again, God is in control. I believe that with all my heart. Especially after seeing the wrecked hulk that was our car and my wife with barely a bump on her.

Prayers are requested. I’m trusting that the Lord will come through with a great car for us, and He’ll make things right concerning our other challenges. It’s been a year of living by faith, for sure.

Sorry if it’s been dull here this week, but too much is going on. I don’t know what next week holds, either. It may be slim till life and work settle down. Thanks for being a reader.

Frailty, Thy Name Is Christmas



That’s what the formal name for the bug. For us and our extended family at Christmas, norovirus swept through the ranks and reduced “The Most Wonderful Time of the Year” to a lot of toilet-hugging. I can’t remember the last time I got a stomach bug, maybe a decade or more, but I, and everyone around me, will certainly remember Christmas 2008.

Four years ago it was the genuine flu. My son got it two weeks before Christmas, then I fell ill. Then the family came in from other parts. It must’ve lingered because most got sick within hours of showing up, it seemed.

But nothing matched the power of this norovirus. Fortunately, it only lasted about a day, but for a day it kicked everyone like a mad mule.

God came down from heaven and lived as a man. You’ve got to believe that He picked up a virus or two while on Earth. He can identify with all our frailties, right?

That fact that God can identify with our frailties makes me love Him all the more. He knows that you and I are dust. He knows because He lived as dust, even though His body never saw decay. His living as dust makes the Resurrection all the more compelling. He is the firstborn among all brethren, and His rebirth is my promise.

Even in dust, even in the midst of frailty, there is hope.

For Jesus is not just our Lord and Savior; He is our brother.