I was reminded today of a story a friend told me when we were both student pastors attending seminary. A member of her congregation had given a substantial financial gift to the church for pew cushions. She had wanted to use the money for a mission, to reach out to the poor, to make a difference in someone’s life. The last thing she thought the money should be used for was pew cushions. But that was how the gift was designated, so the trustees were asked to purchase pew cushions.
As is often the case when a church prepares to make a substantial purchase, the church seemed consumed by pew cushions. There were meetings and more meetings about the size, color, and material to be used. When it was finally time to make the purchase my friend was quite tired of the conversation and just wanted to be done with the whole mess.
She was given the “honor” of going to the store to place the order. No detail had been left uncovered and there were no decisions left to be made, but the Trustees thought it best to send the pastor. Rather than suffer through another meeting to decide someone to go in her stead, she just swallowed hard and agreed.
Several weeks later the installers showed up with the cushions, and began putting them on the pews. At the end of the day the supervisor, the one pastor had placed the order with, asked her to come and see their work. Feigning excitement, she grabbed the check for the final payment, and went into the sanctuary. At least this far-too-time-consuming ordeal was almost over.
After she “approved” of the work and handed over the check, the supervisor asked if he could talk to her. He thanked her for her business, and then said, “The day you came in to order the cushions was supposed to be our last day. If it were not for your order, we would have gone out of business. Since getting your order though, things have picked up and I think we are going to make it.”
Did God use a reluctant pastor, a slow-moving church committee, and pew cushions to save a business? Maybe.