I walked quietly into the church sanctuary, hoping not to be seen. I sat under the soft glow of Christmas lights. The tears rolled silently down my cheeks. The sound of my breaking heart was deafening to my soul. I was at a complete loss. A mother of two, a staff counselor in a large church, a Bible study teacher, and a frightened child of the King. How did I get here and what do I need to do was my whispered prayer in the quiet of the sanctuary. I had never known married life any other way. What began on Day 4 of our honeymoon had grown ever so silently into what I could no longer ignore. As I sat all alone I could no longer ignore the trouble my marriage was in and I could not dismiss the suffering of my soul. The chronic hurts of my heart now deeply affected my soul. Since my mid-twenties, I had truly desired to live a life that infected others with the love of Jesus. I wanted to be contagious. The hard truth, I was not living a contagious life; I only saw my life labeled as contaminated. … how did I get here?
I grew up attending a Christian School and I wore a dress/skirt every day to school to comply with the dress code. As I got older, there were days where someone would say to me or I would say to someone, “Your slip is showing”. It’s the culture and times I lived in. Whether I liked it or not, I learned to perfect the appearance. I also learned how to pull off the “put together” look. “Never let them see your slip show” became a motto that made its way into my sub conscience and began to frame an unstable structure in my heart. I had turned away the truth of the Gospel several times. No one knew. After all, I looked like I belonged, I said all the right things, and I had learned the art of pretending. Little did I know that I was on a collision course that would slam me into the ugly truth of my sin and the glorious grace found at the cross.
I woke up to an ordinary, February day and it was Chapel Day at the Christian School. A series of events left us without the guest speaker. The Principal spoke words and a message I heard hundreds of times, but this time it was different. As he unpacked the Gospel, my heart heard it for the first time. This time was different, it wasn’t a story or a text to be tested over in class. It became real to me and the weight of my sin became too much to bear. I wish I could tell you I responded immediately, I did not. For two weeks my pride wrestled with God’s truth and grace. At 14 years of age, I had been in charge of me. February 18 was collision day. I didn’t know it when I greeted the day. It all seemed normal, except for the continuing question, “Where would I spend eternity?” By days end, I had made the definitive decision to follow Jesus! I was tired of fighting. I was sick of me. That was the first day that I could sing within the depths of my soul – >Blessed Assurance Jesus is mine O what a foretaste of glory divine Heir of salvation, purchased of God Born of His Spirit, washed in His Blood
Accepting the amazing, free gift of God’s grace seemed simple once I relinquished my fight. What I did not yet realize is relinquishing my will would become a battle I would be fighting for years to come. …and I succumbed to the temptation.
Now, all these years later, I sat in this quiet place, decorated beautifully to remind us that He came humbly as the Prince of Peace, mighty counselor, and the Savior of the world. I could not be in a safer place. The place to remind me that He came, He died, He rose again so that I could live more than a conqueror. The real question in my heart that day was did I really believe that He could do anything with my mess. Could I live a contagious faith that would erase the label: contaminated.
I don’t want to leave you hopeless. God never leaves us in ashes. He makes beautiful things from our ash heap. I may have sat in the quiet of that sanctuary feeling alone, but the same King Jesus that rescued my soul at the age of 14 would lead me through this mess, erase the label I had given myself, and teach me how to be contagious. I just had to rest in Him, and believe me when I tell you, I was about to learn how to rest in my most restless time.