shame

“Those people at the church, aren’t like me. They have their lives all together and they don’t have struggles like I do.” If he only knew.

If he only knew.

She was there – every time the doors opened. She taught children’s classes. In worship she sang with a joy of someone forgiven. She lived with the scars of a pregnancy while not married and a decision to end that pregnancy before others found out. Her guilt and pain brought her to Christ. There she found forgiveness and joy in living. That why she was there.

He knew the mistake. He knew better before it happened, but he let it happen. He was barely 20 and she was not yet 16. She wanted companionship and an older boyfriend and began to flirt. He was lonely, living states away from his family. Things went too far. Now he faced life with a “Scarlet Letter.” His dream of coaching youth sports ended at that moment. He will always have to register his offender status wherever he goes, even at church. But there he was sitting in the middle of the auditorium, singing praise to the God of Grace.

She quit her job and had nowhere to go and no one to turn to. She called the building and asked if she could come talk.  She was a dancer, yes that kind of dancer, in a place where the music is loud, the alcohol flows, and smoke from cigarettes fill the air. She made good money as a regular dancer and the tips were good, but one night, more accurately, early morning before the first light of day someone attacked her robbing her of her money, hurting her physically, and leaving emotional scars. Satan’s web of deceit came crashing down around her. This was not the life she planned when she left home. She wanted to know if God would accept her and forgive her. The minister assured her God loved her in a way no person could, and he longed to forgive her. They opened a Bible together, read about God’s love, Christ’s sacrifice, and resurrection. She decided to obey the gospel and as a new Christian began worshipping with His people. She still struggled with trust, she still struggled financially, and she faced the temptations of her old life, yet she pressed on. God is the God of second chances, and she had hers.

He lost his temper, punches flew, and a knife came out. His knife. He threatened the other parent in front of children and other adults. His victim pressed charges and the judge sentenced him with a fine and court-ordered anger management training. He asked his spiritual family for forgiveness, patience, help, and prayer. This they did. He is in the audience singing, he stands to lead a prayer thanking God for forgiveness, forgiveness he understands.

She had more failed relationships than she did successes. Come to think about it, she had no successes. All her marriages failed and now she was cohabitating with someone who did not really love her, but she didn’t love him either. This relationship was all about convenience, she had a roof over her head and meals to eat, that is as long as she prepared them, took care of the house, and pretended to be a wife. She went out at noon to get what she needed for the day and that is where she met Jesus at the well. That encounter changed her life. Her failed relationships would no longer define her. She could not wait to tell others about the Messiah! (John 4:1-28).

“Those people at the church, aren’t like me. They have their lives all together and they don’t have struggles like I do.” If he only knew.

If only he knew.

If only he knew that any given Sunday, that anytime Christians gather to worship they are there. The hurting. The sick. The poor. The depressed. The sinner. The addict. The accused. The broken. They all receive the invitation of Jesus. He invites them His table, to participate in His feast, and they come. They come to find comfort. To find help. To find peace. To find joy. To find release from the prisons of Satan and sin. Jesus welcomes them, they lay their burden down and leave it at Jesus’ feet. 

Then together, we lift our voices in praise, “Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me. I once was lost. But now I’m found, was blind but now I see.”

– Scott

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