When Kirk asked me to share a little about how Sunday night affected my life, I was overwhelmed. My life has been significantly impacted by the interactions and relationships that developed as a result of this service, not the least of which, of course, was meeting Christ.
Still, it is hard to explain how much this service means to me.
I showed up 3+ years ago because my husband gave me an ultimatum: go to church with me or we get a divorce. I didn’t like or trust Christians. God and I had just gotten on speaking terms again after years of bitterness and anger. But still, I came. My job only allowed me to come every other weekend, which was fine by me. I didn’t know the songs, couldn’t find my way around a Bible, and knew no one but the small group of 12 step people who had invited my husband in the first place.
In the darkened auditorium, my heart became to thaw. This service was anti-church to me and so I was able to become open, slowly to what I was hearing. No confining pews, no self righteous dress code, and no complicated Bible language mocking my ignorance, just slowly being exposed to Truth that challenged me without condemning me.
I met people who were also discovering grace. The relationships have been so important to me. They have challenged me to grow in my understanding of God in my heart’s attitudes. But most of all, they have demonstrated, over and over, God’s love. In this service, I met Jesus in the people around me. They pointed me to Jesus. And together, we became more like him.
Kate lent her gracious ear as we served in the kitchen. Ben encouraged thought provoking discussions. Kirk emailed book lists and answers to my questions. Rosie loved me. The kids laughed with me. Cindy would wave from the stage. Melissa, my twin, would sneak in late but I could always hear her voice join in. Terry, Marianne, Ben, Becky and I were baptized together in this service. And in all this, I found that the “God of my understanding” wasn’t as wonderful or glorious as the God of the Bible. I found that His plan for me was beyond my understanding, of Him, of His grace.
And then we began to reach out, to bring our friends, to serve the church, to become a part of this body of Christ. In many ways, I feel like I was born here. I am not sure, given how desperate my life was, if I would even be alive had I not been given that ultimatum to join my husband here.
It was on a Sunday night that I first braved my fear of speaking to talk about how I rely on God’s grace. It seems fitting, and I am so grateful, for the opportunity to say goodbye here, still relying on His grace.