I am a fan of the series of novels by Dean Koontz called Odd Thomas. At the time of this writing I have not finished the series yet, but am on the 5th (out of 7) book, Odd Apocalypse. The series follows the protagonist Odd Thomas who is able to see the unspeaking spirits of dead people. These spirits come to him seeking help in getting justice for their wrongful deaths.
It may seem an odd place to gain theological insights, but I have gained some gems from reading this series. I share them here in my new series, “The Gospel According to Odd Thomas.”
Now I am no literary critic. I am just a preacher who likes to read about the shenanigans that Odd gets into. So take that for what it’s worth.
I begin with sharing a prayer that shows up a few times in the course of the series so far. It is the prayer of Odd’s grandmother Pearl Sugars or Granny Sugars. Immediately upon waking Odd reports that Granny Sugars would pray: Spare me that I may serve.
The description that then accompanies this prayer is interesting and typical of the Odd Thomas novels:
Pearl Sugars was a professional poker player who frequently sat in private games against card sharks twice her size, guys who didn’t lose with a smile. They didn’t even smile when they won. My grandma was a hard drinker. She ate a boatload of pork fat in various forms. Only when sober, Granny Sugars drove so fas that police in several Southwestern states knew her as Pedal-to-the-Metal Pearl. Yet she lived long and died in her sleep.
I wouldn’t recommend that lifestyle, but I find it kind of funny. After all, some of the saints who have lived and believed in this faith of ours have been pretty quirky and yet God blessed them and used them. I really just like that prayer more than anything: “spare me that I might serve.”
Maybe we can serve in small ways. Maybe it is being a light in some dark places that we interact. I’m quite confident that Granny Sugars would be able to meet and interact with people who would never give me the time of day. I think it is important to remember that God redeems quirky aspects of our lives in order to use them to his glory. I am reminded of some stories I have heard of former gang members teaching missionaries how to properly smuggle contraband (in their case Bibles) across international hostile borders.
I also think of some who are often forgotten: those in nursing homes, differently abled, and those struggling with addiction. What ways might they be spared to serve? I think many ways! They can do things in the Kingdom that I will never be able to.
I pray this sometimes now. I will wake up and with a bit of a giggle pray, “Lord, spare me that I might serve.” My problems are petty in comparison to most in this world, but there are days I feel the struggle to get out of bed and be an adult. So I pray that the Lord would spare me so that I might serve. Perhaps this is a prayer similar to a line from the Lord’s Prayer “lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…”