Posted in Life

Behind locked doors

Photo by engin akyurt on Unsplash

I had to go to a lawyer’s office yesterday to sign a piece of paper. It wasn’t out of my way. I went there while running some other errands in the area.

The office was located in a large suite of offices. At least six buildings surrounded a large parking lot, each housing twelve professional offices.

I found the right one without any trouble. As I walked in the door, I expected to see a nice entrance to a law office. Once inside, though, I found two white doors and a stairway leading up the stairs. The firm’s name was etched on a simple black plastic sign on one of the doors. At least I was in the right place.

When I tried the door, it was locked. I had called ahead of time and they told me when they would be open. Puzzle, I read the very small sign over the doorknob, “Ring for entrance.” I pushed the button, expecting an electronic lock to open for me. When I tried the door again – nothing.

I heard someone talking from inside. They must have been on the phone. They said, “Can you hold on a minute?” About fifteen seconds later, the bolt turned and the door opened. A friendly face greeted me. “How can I help you?”

I explained who I was and followed her in. The office was nice but simple. Not nearly as fancy as I expected. It wasn’t a rough part of town, but I suppose you have to be careful. You don’t want just anyone walking in the door unless you’re expecting them. More and more places keep their doors locked.

I’ve encountered locked doors when I’ve stopped by doctor’s offices, churches during the week, certain floors of a hospital, hotel fitness rooms, and some public bathrooms. I wish so many good things didn’t have to be secured behind locked doors.

Posted in Life, listening, Ministry

A week on the phone

Photo by Rohit Tandon on Unsplash

I just spent a week without (and greatly appreciating!) my office manager and assistant. She took a well deserved vacation with her husband, and will be back tomorrow. (God is good — all the time!)

That meant that I couldn’t just ignore the phone when it rang last week. If you called, that was my voice who answered, “Shepherd of the Coast Lutheran Church — this is Pastor Douthwaite.” Here are some of the responses I heard last week:

“Oh. <long pause> Nicole must not be there.”
In a thick Indian accent: “Thank you very much.” Click <hang up>
“Call this number immediately, or you will face arrest and imprisonment by the IRS for tax evasion…”
“Oh, hi Pastor. Are you going to be in the office today?” <seriously?>
“Do you have chronic back pain…?”
“Congratulations, you have just won…” Click. <I hung up.>
“Oh, hi. You’re just the person I need to talk to.”
“Hi, I’m from the Best-Ever-Media company. We’d like to send you a 37 volume DVD series to inspire your youth to more vibrant faith…” Click. <I hung up.>
“I sent you an email. Did you get it?”
“Stay on the line for important information about…” Click. <I hung up.>
“Hi. I scheduled a meeting, but don’t know if any space is available.”
“I saw you have a food pantry today.” Me: “No, I’m sorry, that’s the church next door.”

I never know what the voice on the other end is going to say. However, it just amazes me that 90% of the phone calls we receive are irrelevant to our ministry. So for a couple of hundred bucks a month, we maintain phone lines for no good reason at all!

I cut off our landline about five years ago. Neither my wife or I were making any outgoing calls. All of the inbound calls were telemarketers, surveys, robocalls and wrong numbers. The provider representative I talked with couldn’t understand why I wanted to disconnect.

I wonder if God gets any prayers like this…