Thursday, September 3, 2009

I'D LEAVE 99...(An article I wrote for my church's newsletter on the theme of homecoming.)

When I think of homecoming what comes to mind is sitting in my pastor's office for the first time nine years ago. I had begun to attend his church a few months before but usually slipped out before the service was over to avoid having to talk to anyone, so we'd never really spoken. At the time I was still filled with fear and shame; I felt that if people knew what my life was like they would not want me sitting on the pew with them. But on this day, the pastor had made a beeline for me before the service ended, asking if I would like to meet with him in his office. He'd probably noticed me weeping in the pew during the service as I did every time I attended a service. I didn't offer him much to go on that day. I wasn't ready to share the details, just that I was in recovery and had come back to church because I was working Step Two (Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity) in my program. I had attended church as a little girl and had loved Jesus and longed to know God like Joan of Arc and Saint Bernadette did, but I lost my faith and turned away from God when my father left our family for a woman he worked with - in spite of my fervent prayers. So as I was "coming to believe" I decided to go back to church since that was where I had known God as a child. As we sat in his office, my pastor began to prayerfully leaf through the used Study Bible he had offered to give me to take home. Then he stopped and began to read the passage from John 4 about the woman at the well in Samaria. He had no idea that what he was reading was a powerful word of knowledge for me. It was more than that, actually, I was stunned because the story of that woman was the story of my life. I didn't get the part about "living water" etc., at the time it was over my head spiritually, but as he continued to read I felt God saying to my heart, "Finally, you've come home!" In that moment I knew that I was where I was supposed to be, although it would be a while before I invited Jesus to come into my life. August 30 is the anniversary of the day that I was born again. I'm so grateful for God's infinite patience and loving compassion towards me. Like the Good Shepherd, Jesus came and rescued this lost lamb and carried me home. And I will forever love and serve Him.

He is long-suffering (extraordinarily patient) toward you, not desiring that any should perish, but that all should turn to repentance. 2 Peter 3:9b

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