I slammed the door in the pastor’s face. I’d had it. I didn’t want flowers, cards, or phone calls in my hospital room, and I most certainly, didn’t want a visit from the pastor. Hours away from giving birth, I wanted to be left alone. How was the church going to help me? Enough people were already talking about me, and praying about it wasn’t going to solve the circumstances surrounding my pregnancy.
I wasn’t ready to face the reality of the mess I’d made, let alone, be a single mom. So I stayed stuck. My confusion left me caught between the curious stone throwers and the caring soul seekers. Pastor was surely the latter, but I stubbornly closed the door and stood my ground. In the emptiness of that hospital room, I wasn’t just alone, I was scared. When he left, I collapsed to the floor and wept. Me and my brokenness leaning on one side of that door, Jesus waiting to hold my aching heart on the other side.
Turning The Knob
As expected, Lola entered the world the next morning, but along with her emerged an unanticipated repentance and rebirth in me… an awakening to the unadulterated gift of God’s grace. It was then that the journey of motherhood really began. After a year of stumbling through the joys and hardships, I grew into the fullness of that grace, and I wanted to go back to church. But how could I? I hadn’t attended church in years, and I was a preacher’s kid…shameful! I was a single mom… scandalous! And let’s not forget, I’d rudely and regrettably rejected the pastor…horrific! My list of sins was so ugly and long, how dare I even consider walking through the doors of church? But when you have a persistent brother-in-law who couldn’t care less about excuses, you get dressed for church and are ready when he honks in the driveway. Off we went.
Though I knew my only concern should be God’s opinion of me, I still felt like an embarrassment. Holding my baby girl in my arms, I couldn’t very well hide the scarlet letter etched on my back. Through the doors we went. I’m not sure if I was subconsciously expecting to be stoned or what, but I walked into a church full of other sinners, just like me, mercifully saved by grace. Inside the doors, I found ushers eager to seat us and carry the diaper bag, a sister saving a spot for me, friends doting over my beautiful baby girl, sweet old ladies in the back pew cheering us on with smiles despite the fact we were ten minutes late. I also found “that” pastor. You know, the one I’d dismissed. He bounded right over to our row from the altar at the close of the service, smiled, and simply said, “I’m so glad to see you here.”
Four years later, we still arrive ten minutes late, that pastor is Lola’s godfather, and life doesn’t feel quite the same right now when we turn on the computer to attend church instead of walking through the doors into the sanctuary. I miss going to church. I suspect you feel the same. It’s hard to be socially distant and keep the doors locked, but make no mistake, the church is not closed. It’s open in the form of members faithfully worshipping together via live stream, families helping neighbors, individuals cooking meals, sewers making masks, youth running errands, children coloring pictures, pastors diving into digital outreach. The church doors are open wider than ever before!
The Other Side
Jesus doesn’t close. His love doesn’t stop – His hope doesn’t end – His truth is eternal – His forgiveness knows no limits, and His grace has no bounds. He is always standing ready at the door of our heart, waiting for us to open it to Him.
Jesus does not close.
And when they arrived and gathered the church together, they declared all that God had done with them, and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles.”Acts 14:27