Lately, powerful changes had been pulling at Sharon. She was tired of living her life in the manner in which she had grown accustomed to over the years. No longer did alcohol seem to serve as a catharsis for her problems. Always before, she had been able to lose herself and the worries that consumed her in drinking it away. Reaching a comfortable state of intoxication caused all her troubles to disappear, at least temporarily.
Lately, however, it seemed there was no rest after one of these episodes. She found herself lying wide-eyed in bed at 3 a.m. in the morning, wondering if she had acted foolishly under the influence of the alcohol. Once the effects of her bingeing began to wear off, she was inevitably consumed with a sense of deep, overwhelming loneliness and fear. Lying beside her husband in the dark, as he snored unconcernedly on, lessons learned long ago in Sunday school would begin to replay themselves through her mind. The outcome of this found her suddenly gripped in anxiety so desperate that she would often have to get out of bed, to pace restlessly back and forth.
There was a huge hole in her life, and it seemed as if nothing that she had ever attempted to fill it with worked for any period. Past relationships, alcohol, drugs, jobs, friends, none seemed to fit the puzzle piece that was missing in her heart. For awhile, the birth of her latest child had seemed to bring her enormous happiness, yet even now, as much as she loved her daughter, she still felt incomplete.
Lately, she had begun to question if perhaps what was missing could be found at church. Her mother in law invited her to attend quite regularly, yet she had only accepted a couple of times. Every time she did, it was uncanny how the preacher had seemed to be speaking directly to her when she attended, leaving her squirming quite uncomfortably in her pew. She had found her fists tightly gripping the pew in front of her during the altar call, on more than one occasion. It was a huge relief when services were concluded, and she was outside the building again. Only then, could she seem to breathe deeply once more, although she always had a niggling feeling of discontent the rest of the day, almost as if she had missed something extremely important.
Climbing back into bed, and folding herself up against her husbandís back for warmth, and hopefully comfort, she decided that when Mom asked her to go with her to services again, she would accept. Perhaps next time, she might discover the answer to these unsettling questions.
As she pulled up into the churchís parking lot, she could already hear the singing had begun. She sat indecisively for a moment in the driverís seat, debating whether to go in or not. This was a different church from the one that she had previously visited, and she was gripped with anxiety about being late, and fearful she might not be able to locate her mother in law in the crowd. Perhaps she should just wait, and come back another time. But no, Laura was expecting her, and she would be worried if she didnít show up. She gathered as much courage as she could, and crossed the lawn to the church steps.
All thoughts of quietly slipping into the rear of the church and just finding a seat disintegrated when she attempted to open the heavy wooden door. Wrestling with it for a moment, she was ready to turn and flee again, as the handle stubbornly refused to budge. Suddenly that option was no longer viable, as a large man with a smiling face opened the door from the inside to admit her. Blushing profusely, and thanking him for his assistance, Sharon entered the vestibule to spot Laura sitting on the very last pew. Thankful to slip in beside her without inviting any more unwanted attention, she sat down beside her and attempted to collect her wits.
Laura reached over, patted her hands, and smiled at her encouragingly, and Sharon relaxed enough to allow the words of the songs to penetrate her mind. She glanced up once or twice to a portrait of Jesus that hung about five feet away from her between two windows, and the compassion in His eyes seemed to speak directly to her.
Several of the songs were hymns that she recognized her mother singing when she was a young girl, and unconsciously she found tears coming unbidden to her eyes. Here was that feeling again that she had experienced lately, whispering that there was a better way. In the small sanctuary of the country church, she again came face to face with what she perceived to be missing from her life, although she still was not sure what it was. There was a presence here, however, that seemed to be speaking to her, and as she gazed again at the portrait of Jesus, she suddenly realized that it seemed as if His eyes held all the answers. The words to one song suddenly penetrated her mind, as they urged one to take up the cross and follow Jesus.
With tears streaming down her face, Sharon rose to her feet and approached the altar. Kneeling in prayer, and confessing her sins, she came face to face with grace. She had found the missing piece, and she knew, as she arose, that her life indeed had been changed from the encounter with Jesus. She had met the Savior intimately, and she would never be the same again.
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