Confessions of a Peeker

I said PEEKER, not PEEPER. Big difference!
Sunday services at the Methodist church didn’t end in an alter call, so I didn’t grow up familiar with that tradition, but I married a Baptist and quickly became familiar with it. Without fail, an “alter call” or “invitation” came at the close of every service, and usually it was followed up with the musical strains of each and every verse of “Just As I Am” as we waited for those who responded to the invitation for a new life in Christ, to make their way down front to the pastor.
We sang every verse of “Just As I Am” if necessary.
Every verse. Every week. It was back then that my peeking became habitual. I know- “with every head bowed and every eye closed…” Yeah, yeah, but I wanted to see if anyone was going to make their way up to the pastor, and keep us from having to sing every single verse.
When my husband accepted his first position as a pastor, we often talked about the necessity of such long drawn out alter calls. (I often brought up trying a different song…)
After several years, we found ourselves in a different church tradition that didn’t offer alter calls after each service. Instead, folks were given an opportunity to pray with a church elder up front after the service if they felt they needed it.
Poised at the front of the church stood the grimmest looking people I think I’d ever witnessed.
They looked like God’s gestapo. It almost made me long for “Just as I Am”. Almost. But really, if someone had need of spiritual guidance, I’m not sure they would ever be brave enough to approach those people. I peeked anyway, just in case, to see if anyone did.
Our journey through church styles has recently taken yet another turn, and I find that I am back in the land of routine alter calls and invitations. Yet there’s a varying twist now. No one has to make their way to the front of the room to pray with, or speak to, anyone. Rather, as every head is bowed and every eye is closed (sure) people are invited to pray to God for salvation through Christ.
And then the pastor does the most awesome thing for someone like me. He asks those people who took him up on the offer to raise their hands! Yep. You guessed it: I peek. But now it’s not because I am hoping that a quick end will come to a never-ending alter call, nor is it because I want to catch a peek at who is brave enough to approach the unapproachable.
Now I peek to see how many people are causing angels to pause in their heavenly worship to party for a while.
I do feel a little guilty for peeking, but I try to zero in on one or two people who raised their hands and, as the pastor is leading them in a prayer for salvation, I am praying for this most awesome decision they’ve just made.
Our pastor spoke once about the dilemma he faces with making this offer week in and week out. But as he (and I) look out over the crowd for those raised hands- and there are always raised hands- we both know that lives are changing, people are moving from death into life, and angels are celebrating.
So forgive me for peeking. I don’t mean to intrude.
It’s just that I really can’t help myself. Just this week at church, during the invitation, among the hands going up, I saw the hand of a father shoot up. His other arm was wrapped around the shoulders of his daughter who appeared to be about my daughter’s age. I know that the decision this man made will not only impact his life for eternity, but his daughter’s as well, and I made sure to cover that new beginning with prayer.
So tell me, do you peek, too?

One thought on “Confessions of a Peeker

  1. Being the rule follower I am, you know what my answer is!   However, I love that you use that time to zero in on one or two people to pray for them as they pray.  Some rules are just made to be broken, heh?

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