This story is a bit long-winded, so for those who prefer abridge versions: the lakes area has   many phenomenal and inspirational church leaders.

Now, the long version. There is a Netflix show called Lucifer. It is a fictional, witty, crime drama/comedy. One storyline revealed hell is individualized to the fallen. For example, if there was a major regret or aggravating stress point, the fallen would relive that moment in hell for eternity.

I’m not a person who regrets. My policy is simple: live in truth, that way it is never far when I fall. Or, in other words, apologize honestly for mistakes the moment they are recognized as such, and then it is onward and upward. So, the fictional hell of reliving regret never struck a chord. However, I found an aggravating stress point.

Now, onto the second catalyst in this story—technology. I’ve been at the forefront of technological advances of computers since the early internet became synonymous with landline screeching. I use computers in all aspects of life, from work to hobbies. Most of the time, I love computers.   

Then came along the spawn of Satan. A computer fell light years short on performance, which created a domino effect of stress and mounting frustration. After quite some time of more of the same, it hit me, I found my hell loop.

Overly dramatic? Sure, but let me expound. For me, spinning wheels for an extended period of time is torture. I only like sitting still or going backwards when next to a bonfire with loved ones. As I endured this nightmare circumstance I realized what true hell an eternity could be. Half jokingly, I thought, maybe it is time to consider an insurance policy (go to church). 

They do say God works in mysterious ways …  

Now, a bit about my relationship with God. God and I  have covered rocky ground that turned into quicksand. Those experiences left me with luggage. Instead of unpacking, the luggage ended up in the attic and I exited organized religion.  

During my life, there were years I considered myself a Christian, an Omnist, an atheist and simply spiritual. No matter what journey my soul I took, there has always been bubbling animosity with organized religion. 

Awhile back, Father David Baumgartner of Sacred Heart Church in Frazee wrote a column that pried open my brain and helped me deal with that hostility.

I know that no human belongs on a pedestal  (except maybe Eddie Vedder), for we are all fallible. However, in the wise words Baumgartner delivered, I realized that I had placed church leaders on pedestals. By doing so, I created a divide in my heart between me and the church. 

I also realized that I held all churches and their leaders accountable for atrocious behavior committed by a few. Subscribing to that mindset is like saying all police, mechanics, politicians, journalists … are corrupt.

I’m thankful Baumgartner held up that mirror in the column he wrote, otherwise who knows how many more years I would’ve walked around like a dingbat with misplaced animosity in my heart.

Around that same time, I thought it would be good to find a church and give that relationship another go. But, the commitment was half-hearted and time was easily spent elsewhere. Tick-tock, the calendar flipped and life progressed.

Enter the computer from hell­—a not so nice reminder that transformed a half-hearted thought into intent. The irony is, attending a sermon likely would not have happened without a computer. Why? Well, that answer belongs to some of that luggage in the attic that I referred to earlier. However, I saw online sermons as an opportunity to open the suitcase. This time, I followed through.

In the past month or so I’ve watched several sermons, some from area churches and others from distant lands. What I’ve come to realize is that I had a room in my mind that has been empty. And, when I’m in that room, I am thirsty.

Being one who prefers discussions on philosophy and ideology over topical matters, and having an insatiable thirst for knowledge, I found the sermons engrossing. . 

Some church leaders present the word of God with showmanship, some with shock and awe and others with modern day experiences. All good times. 

I used to be baffled as to why a former co-worker would sit through two sermons on a Sunday. My history of being a dingbat is extensive. 

Now, while I’m exercising my body, I let sermons sharpen my mind. While I sit on the beach and watch the waves roll in, I invite a sermon to recharge my soul. Sometimes, when the material presented has layers,  I will even listen to a sermon twice, because knowledge that provokes thought should be savored. That’s right, I get pretty wild and crazy on Sundays.

So, that’s the story of how Lucifer and the computer spawned from hell brought me back to organized religion. If anyone reading this has their own luggage with the church, I encourage you to open the suitcase and give an online sermon a go. The messages are solid, positive and sometimes offer a gut check on one’s own participation in humanity’s progression. 

Is an in-person sermon in my future? I’ve seen stranger things happen. 

On a serious note, thank you to all the church leaders in our lakes area communities. The effort and time put into creating the sermons does not go unnoticed, and your work is appreciated and admirable.