"Where can I go from your spirit? Or where can I flee from your presence?" - Psalm 139:7
Last Wednesday I took our two youngest kids out for dinner. We rode our bikes to a place halfway between the Hancock building and our home. I looked across the table at my kids who were all red cheeks and sweaty heads. And I felt overcome with gratitude.
At home we thank God before dinner. We join hands around the table and pray. Nothing elaborate, but it happens religiously.
But not in restaurants. I don't pray in restaurants. I've never thought "Why not?" Maybe I don't want anyone to feel awkward. Maybe I think religion is a private matter. Maybe I don't want to feel awkward myself. Maybe I believe God is only alive inside the church and at my dinner table? Maybe I have a problem.
None of these thoughts entered my mind on Wednesday night. I just felt grateful and full of love. So I said, "let's pray" and I closed my eyes and bowed my head and immediately regretted it.
The world's skepticism came roaring into my mind as I started mumbling a prayer. I felt embarrassed. And I heard "Dad!" I know, I know, you're mortified. I mumbled faster. A second voice, "Dad!" I opened my eyes and looked up. And here is what I saw: my two youngest children, holding hands, each with an arm stretched across the table waiting for my return grip.
These two little Christians, happily living out a truth they learned in church: God is alive and good and everywhere. Even inside the empire, even halfway downtown on a Wednesday night.
Dear God, thank you for following us everywhere, even out to dinner. Amen.
Matt Fitzgerald is the Senior Pastor of St. Pauls United Church of Christ, Chicago, IL.