I was standing 5 feet from baseball legend Pete Rose. I could have reached out and touched him. I was so excited. I happened to walk in on an autograph session in the mall. I felt like an 8-year-old again. My first thought was to get my picture taken with him.
When I asked about seeing him, I was told I would have to buy something. You know me, I looked for something cheap. The least expensive item they had was a photograph of Pete. It went for $69. That’s a lot of money even for a childhood idol.
I was so close and yet, so far. Then a man walked up to one of the “gatekeepers” and exchanged a laugh and some small talk. The next thing I knew he was having his picture taken with Pete for free. It happened two more times. I was a little perturbed.
I went back to the guy and asked if I could sneak in and say “hi” and have my daughter snap a picture of us. He rejected the idea. He said he couldn’t do that for me or he’d have to do it for everyone. I asked him about his friends. He said, “Yeah, well I don’t know you.”
A thought hit me as I left. I wondered if there were people who looked at God from afar with the same awe I had for Pete Rose. Maybe they learned about God in Sunday School. Maybe they wished they could get up close and personal but someone stood in the way.
I got into a conversation with a man at a wedding reception a few months back. He wanted to know more about God. You see, he knew the bride’s family. He witnessed how much joy their faith gave them. He said they never talked about their faith. He wished they had.
Here is something I want you to hear. All of us know people who want to talk about God. They have seen an authentic faith in you and me. They want to experience firsthand the type of peace we have because we know that God is in control. So don’t be a gatekeeper.
The Scriptures say that we have the keys to the kingdom. God sends us out to share the truth to a world caught up in despair. This “Good News” is too good to keep to ourselves. So go ahead and unlock the gate. There is plenty of room for everyone to get up close and personal with God.
The Rev. Cal Lord is pastor of Central Baptist Church of Westerly.