Tuesday, March 08, 2005

My Sanctuary??? Could It be?

Many months ago I wrote about a place I was searching for. This was a place of amazing solitude but amazing love, acceptance yet conviction...it was a place called my sanctuary...a place of safety. To be honest...I had given up on ever finding it because I have pretty much given up on the life of Christianity. My heart hasn't given up on God...but it has given up on Christians.

I really thought it was over when I spoke the other day that I would never force my sister to go back to church. For the first time in the past seven years, it makes sense to me why she left the church never to return. I knew at that moment, I truly meant that and I know at that moment I really wanted to make the same choice for myself. Then I forced myself to the car and said...I'll just go sit outside the church in my car...I won't go in. I pulled up and saw people that I had never seen and like I had never seen...I wanted to follow them. Why would the wealthy and the poor associate together, the different races? I knew what church should be...but I didn't believe that it could be it....until now....

I've been in search of this for a long time now. The last two Sundays I've gone to the same church which is huge for me. I think I may have found my sanctuary. I met the pastor for coffee before even walking through the doors of the church, he was trying to get me to come and after one month of e-mailing me, he invited me for coffee. We sat and I told him my greatest fears, that I'd destroy the church, that I wouldn't be accepted and that I didn't deserve to walk into the building. He sat and listened to me and told me...Lynn we're already destroyed...that's what grace is for.

I attended three weeks after our first meeting, last week. At the end of the service the pastor came up to me and said...how was it? I told him that I think I felt welcome...and he said...that's because you are welcome.

Let me describe this church that I belong in so deeply. It so diverse, so many ethnicities, black, white, asian, hawaiian, indian and the list grows on. It's diverse with rich and poor. Some people come in there who frankly don't smell pleasant, but I smile because they sit next to those of wealth. The drummer is an older man with long matted white hair, and a long matted white beard, his clothes are tattered, his smell unpleasant, but when he plays the drums, he worship his God. When he gets done playing he sat in a chair last week besides a wealthy woman, who wraps her arm around him and said she loved him.

See the wealthy, the elite, recognize one thing in this church that I've seen in no other church or person until now...that they too smell just as bad, look just as tattered, and are worth the exact same before God came to them. This is a church of acceptance and grace...and this is a church where they love their community. They fund a food pantry, soup kitchen, health clinic, work with crisis nursery, habitat for humanity, overseas missions and their own youth.

Yesterday the youth minister and I talked...he wants me to be involved with the youth group, and I told him just couldn't right now. We began discussing why and he looked at me and said...you talk as if you lost your first love...and I told him that's because I did...I loved those kids...he told me that he understood. He told me that he experienced that hurt and when I've healed up and feel ready to give again to let him know. God always gives me youth, everywhere I go...I never have to worry about it...it's strange because I actually thought that that might end because I destroyed the last ministry...but God is reminding me that He is faithful and just...

It's amazing because the minister loves me, he told me he does...and he hugs me and accepts me...the most amazing part of that is that he accepts me when I cry through church, he accepted me that month that I refused to come and he accepts me now even when I doubt that their love is sincere or that they won't abandon me. He loves me even though I'm scared that God will deem me worthless and lay me aside never to use again. The youth minister and the minister of the church have done what I needed, they came around me and accepted me, requesting nothing from me, and promising me one thing...that if I'm open that this congregation will wrap their arms around me so tight that I'll once again feel accepted, whole and loved. And through that they told me that I'll find God again...they just know I will.

Confidence...without their confidence in me...I'd never go back! They really have no reason to believe in me, but they believe in me because they love their God and have seen Him turn rags to riches everyday.

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