Among The First
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Elizabeth pulled into the parking lot, drove into the first spot she saw and turned off the car. She leaned her head back against the seat and closed her eyes. Could she really do this? So much time had passed, was it really worth coming back? She sighed softly and turned her head to look out the window. The parking lot was getting busier and people were hurrying to get inside. It was now or never. She grabbed her keys, purse and Bible, checked her reflection in the rearview mirror and got out of the car.
The church was crowded. All around her children were laughing and playing with Sunday school friends. Adults were absorbed in conversations about how their week had gone. No one noticed her as she slid into the back pew, keeping her head down and her eyes focused on the carpet beneath her feet.
A well dressed family took their seats in the row in front of her. A woman with a stack of bulletins approached them. “You don’t need to sit all the way back here Dr. Milton!” We would love for your family to sit up front!” She said with a huge smile plastered to her bright pink lips as she escorted them towards the front of the sanctuary.
Suddenly from the altar a piano began to play and people stood to their feet. Elizabeth looked down at her plain blue jeans and button down red shirt. Back at the house, she had thought she looked just fine, but now surrounded by very rich and fancy people she wasn’t so sure. As the first hymn was getting started, she gathered up her belongings and quickly headed towards the exit. Not one person seemed to take any notice.
Once outside, Elizabeth drew a deep breath of the fresh air and wiped at a tear that had fallen down her cheek. She knew this was a mistake, she should have never come!
“Miss?” A deep, gentle voice spoke from behind her.
She turned her head and found a very tall man with broad shoulders holding out a piece of paper towards her.
“Yes?” She tried to smile as best she could.
“This paper dropped from your Bible.” She looked into his eyes as she took the paper from him and saw such tremendous power that it took her breath away. Who was this man?
“Thank you.” She shyly ducked her head, letting her hair fall across her face. She slipped the paper back into her Bible and walked slowly to her car.
“You are highly favored, you know. ” He called after her.
She stopped and whirled around to face this strange man.
Before she could speak, he smiled and said, “You are a highly favored daughter of the King. Why do you worry about who man says is important? Man looks on the outside, God on the inside. Jesus came to this earth for people just like you! You’re hurt because here you are last. I assure you that in heaven you will be among the first!”
A man in a suit and tie approached her and tapped her on the arm.
“Miss, is that your car?” He asked as he pointed at her brown station wagon.
All Elizabeth could do was nod her head.
“I’m going to have to ask you to please move it. You’re parked in a space reserved for our special guests.”
Elizabeth fumbled for her keys in her purse and turned to look up at the man who had just brought her such comfort with his kind words.
She sharply sucked in her breath. The man was gone! The only person who stood beside her was the one who had asked her to move her car.
“Where did that gentleman go?” She asked, confusion etched on her face.
“I have no idea who you’re talking about. I didn’t see a gentleman with you.” The man in the suit and tie said as he walked off.
Elizabeth smiled as she covered the distance to her car. Love flooded her heart as she became aware that while on earth she may not be regarded as much, in heaven she was favored above rubies!
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