Something unique happened to me this past Sunday night. I want to share it with you because the more I think on it, the more I realize we could all remember the lesson I learned.
During our song service Sunday night at church I decided to sit for the second half of it. It had been a long weekend and a long day. I sit in the aisle seat of our pew. Years of getting up and down with kids requires it. When I open my eyes there’s someone standing there looking down on me. I realize it was a woman who has been baptized and filled with God’s spirit before. I worked with her and gave her a Bible study a few years ago. I tried so hard with her. She was an alcoholic, and that pulled her back to world after a few months of her trying.
Looking back, there were times I think I wanted her saved more than she did for herself. I remember investing so much thought and worry into her. I also remember that she reminded me of my mother in the way she went at life, the way she avoided being honest with herself.
I couldn’t reach out to her much after she slid backwards because I had to protect myself from the addictive behavior. Her personality was the exact type I would’ve partied with back in the day. I had to be careful.
So here she is standing before me with tears in her eyes. She said she drove by the church and decided to pull in. We hugged several times. Then I continued to stand and sing. She followed cue. She cried on and off. She was drunk. Not falling over drunk, but enough the whole area smelled of vodka.
She would cry and cry. I’d hand tissues and hug. Then she’d stop like it was a faucet, wipe her tears and smile and sing. It was frustrating for me. All I kept thinking was, ya drove here for a reason….go get it.
When it was time for the preaching, she sat, I sat. I didn’t know what to do. I just kept thinking let the preached word wash over her. Let it break down the walls she’s put up.
I dared to look over to see how she was doing, if she needed another tissue….she was asleep! So I started amen-ing louder than I usually do so that she would jerk awake. I was afraid she’d snore, or plop over on pew, or on me. Oh Lord what do I do? Lord what was the point in her showing up if not to jump all in?
God reminded me in that moment of the times I was drunk. How I’d have a remorseful heart about something or someone. He reminded of the several hasty decisions I made while drunk. Decisions made based on wholly emotion with no thought.
She hadn’t thought it through. She hadn’t been planning on showing up. She just took a left into the parking lot. She was hurting, she was tired. A daily drinking habit is very exhausting on the body. She needed rest. And when the preached word came across that pulpit it calmed the storm in that woman and gave her rest. Something we should seek the next time we sit in church. Not so much to konk out or nod off, but that we purposely find peace in our hearts.
The church, my church, even yours, should be an oasis to those who may just need a rest. They should feel comfortable to come in and rest in God’s presence. Because maybe, just maybe one time they’ll come in after taking thought on it. And we the church need to be ready to receive them no matter what state they’re in. I am guilty of looking upon her in confusion, judgement, wondering why she showed in the first place. But when I hit my head on my pillow that night, God showed me…in His presence not only is there liberty but there is rest.