Sundays are my favorite. Usually, wild horses can't keep me away from church on Sunday mornings. But last Sunday, I struggled to get out of bed. Sadness and unhealthy thoughts have been pressing down heavy on me for several days. When an extrovert starts isolating, you know something's not right.
I forced myself out the door. The deceiver went along for the ride bombarding me with all kinds of ugly accusations and dreadful forecasts about my future. I turned up my worship music full-blast and called out to God louder still.
"Help me, Lord. I'm fighting for my sanity here. Please help!"
I slipped into the kindergarten Sunday school room a few minutes late, grateful the students were even later than I, and I busied myself with helping Ms. Robin tell the story of David and Goliath. Again and again, we chanted our unit verse, "God is good to us" (Psalm 73:1).
The deceiver started shrinking back with each declaration.
My phone lit up with a text message from a dear friend.
"Will you be at church today?"
"I sure will. You ok?"
"Satan is punking me today, and I don't have the strength to go if I have to sit by myself."
"I'll be there."
Little did she know Satan was punking me, too.
Side-by-side, my shaky friend and I worshipped in our weakness. We let truth wash over us. We received His comfort.
After the worship music, Pastor Gary rose for what should have been a time of prayer. But the Holy Spirit wind blew the service in a different direction. Gary extended an invitation for us to come to Jesus. He invited the lost ones to be found. He invited the stray sheep to return to the fold. He invited distracted lovers to return to their first love.
Dozens of people came to the altar to pray, including me. I left the ugly truth and the ugly lies on the altar steps and returned to my seat lighter in spirit, refilled with hope, but still in pain because life is painful.
God wasn't done.
One of my sweet Bible study ladies slipped over to me and lavished me with love, empathy and a heart-felt prayer. The tears tumbled as I slumped in my seat and allowed Betty and the Holy Spirit to pray on my behalf.
God wasn't done.
Seconds after Betty returned to her place, another set of arms wrapped me tight. This time, it was a beautiful teenage girl I adore who's going through her own rough waters. She didn't say anything. Love like hers doesn't need words.
We sat there and watched as families and individuals streamed up to let Jesus be Jesus to them. Pastor Gary never got to preach his sermon. But hearts were touched and changed by Christ.
I'm so glad I didn't stay in bed this morning. What I needed most was found in my church building with the outdated, rust pews. That's where my church family was Jesus to me. That's where I got to be Jesus to others. That's where Jesus met me at the altar, received all my yuck, and replaced it with grace.
Lord, thank you for meeting me right in the middle of my need. Thank you for using me when I was feeling especially useless. Thank you for sending beautiful vessels, young and old, to be Your warm embrace. You always know just what to do. I love you. AMEN
Please enjoy this song by Cheri Keaggy and share in the comments about someone who has been Jesus to you? To whom can you be Jesus today?