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Sitting by Maynard
Photo: Clay Smith
I am so grateful that my growing years included going to church every single week. My mother was very dedicated to taking us four kids regularly so that we would grow up with a strong sense of priority for meeting with God and his people. And it worked! I still go to church every week and I feel that things are just not quite right with the universe if I have to miss church.

I have fond memories of riding to church all of those years. But I also remember a period of time when the trips to church were not so comfortable. I’m not sure how it got started, but somehow we learned about a young man on our rural route to church who was interested in going to church, but didn’t have a car. So we ended up picking him up. Whether my mom had invited him or whether he had contacted us, I don’t know. I just knew his name was Maynard and that if he was standing at the end of the road, we had to pick him up. 

Now, ordinarily, my siblings and I were decent kids who loved Jesus and acted like it. But in this situation, we were shameful. If we saw Maynard in the distance ahead, we’d begin shifting around in the seats (no seatbelt laws then) trying to avoid being the one who would end up having to sit by Maynard. Mom tried to remind us that we should treat Maynard kindly and that is what Jesus would want us to do. But we weren’t listening too well, I guess. Besides, we weren’t being unkind to Maynard. Once he got in the car, he had no idea that we had been squabbling over who would have to sit by him. We just sat there quietly, stone-faced and cold while Mom carried on a nice conversation with him. 

I don’t remember Maynard really doing much of the talking though. He just sat quietly and politely accepted the ride to church. What it was that caused us kids to shy away from Maynard, I have no idea. He was dressed okay. He didn’t smell that I recall. He wasn’t annoying. And who knows? Maybe as he watched our car approach, he wondered to himself which one of those kids he would have to sit by this time! Maybe he wondered how such a friendly, talkative lady could have four kids who were so blah. Maybe he thought we were weird. Hey, wait a minute, though! Maynard was the weird one! Or was he?

If I Had It To Do Over...

I don’t know. What I do know is that if I had it to do over, I would talk to him. Ask him questions. Tell him a joke or a funny story or ask him if he has any pets. I’d tell him, “Thanks for riding with us, Maynard! See ya next week!” 

But I can’t do it over. So I’ll never know any more about Maynard than I do now. And he’ll never know me either. What’s worse, though, is that in my childishness, I didn’t remember the words of Jesus which say, “Inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these, my brethren, you did it unto me” (Matthew 25:40).  

I wonder if my siblings and I had seen Jesus standing at the road waiting for us to pick him up if we would have been saying, “I don’t want to sit by Jesus again! I had to sit by him last time.” Hardly! We would have been all over ourselves making way for him. And that’s what we should have done for Maynard too.

Fortunately, my mother’s kind example has lingered in my memory and when other “Maynards” have come along, I’ve tried to be more like her. Who knows? One day I may find myself standing at the end of a road needing a ride to church.

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By Gwen Simmons. Copyright © 2012 by GraceNotes. All rights reserved. Use of this material is subject to usage guidelines. Scripture taken from the NEW KING JAMES VERSION © 1982. 

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