Tuesday, July 13, 2004

Jesus Is Just One Height To Me

Amy and I took the back roads from Dayton to Lake Erie.

This is something we love to do, travel the heartland...at a little slower pace than other folks. It's also something admittedly made more tempting by the fact we drive up to the Lake in "the little truck that might" which lacks air conditioning, so the windows have to be rolled down on warm days. If you travel the major highways for long like that you not only go deaf trying to communicate with each other, you also breathe in enough gas fumes to create your own ozone alert day.

In all honesty, I never tire of driving back roads. I love the scenery and the lack of traffic. I love town squares and old houses. I love speculating about how people in quaint little towns manage to get by in today's fast paced world. I love realizing that they probably simply don't participate in that world, which makes it all so much easier. I love everything about back roads and small towns...especially when Amy and I can enjoy them with only each other.

This year, about a tenth of the way into the trip, we started marking various churches on the map we bought - Amy long ago learned I have no sense of direction...we would have bought a map sooner if I didn't get lost trying to find a gas station.

We didn't write down all the church names, but there were a lot of them -some mid sized churches, some very small churches...all sorts of denominations. We spotted them all with ease. I'd shout out the names and Amy would try to scribble them on the map before I shouted out another one.

One church we didn't see that day is the "Solid Rock Church" which sits between Dayton and Cincinnati near Monroe, Ohio. I get the impression from their website, which, by the way, conveniently offers "i.tithing" via a secure server, that they are a mega church.

We missed seeing the Solid Rock Church because it sits on one of the largest highways in Ohio, I-75. Few other folks will miss it though; the church is building a statue of Jesus....42 feet tall with an arm span of 40 feet.

The sculpture, constructed out of Styrofoam and fiberglass, will be one of the largest statues of Jesus in North America.

Some Ohio State Troopers have expressed concern that it might distract drivers on an already busy freeway. Members of the church say their intent is to show everyone who drives by that there is hope.

I long ago tried to stop passing judgment on such ventures. I'm not a mega-church kind of guy, but I know a lot of people who have found community and comfort in super churches. I don't think God turns those believers away even if what brought them through the door was a 42 foot high Styrofoam and fiberglass Jesus standing next to a church's brand new amphitheatre. My point is not to denigrate the statue or my fellow Christians who believe that is an appropriate use of their resources.

Our little church had to fight tooth and nail to get the six by four foot sign that sits alongside the farm to market road where our family of faith gathers. The sign reads: "Covenant Baptist Church" and mentions our hours of worship.

Still, that sign has probably been our most successful outreach tool.

The back roads, the little churches, the little signs, and the statue of Jesus all fit together for me tonight.

I suppose it's all a matter of perspective.

Sometimes I see Jesus everywhere...even in the smallest of places.

Other times, He is looming above me with arms outstretched and I speed past without giving Him a second glance.

It's sure nice to know He's reaching out though.

On the highways...and the back roads.

Summer House has been updated.