Quietly I slipped into the outermost church pew indifferently aware of several eyes gazing in my direction. I sighed not bothering to question the stares, attempting to silence myself as to not cause a riot.
Inwardly I scoffed aware of my own prudence as I gazed at my tattered garments, the days of dirt caked under my finger nails and the stench of filth from my body. My once golden, delicate tresses lay matted and tangled upon my head. My body was shivering from Sunday morning both on my body and my soul.
Tears cascaded down my face as I sobbed quietly into my hands so that once again I was careful not to disturb the Sunday morning sermon. My hands reached for the back of the pew as I was drawn to my knees.
I attempted to avert my gaze towards the ground as I was wallowed in the gazes of others. Some of the congregation looked upon me with insolence and desecration as I had stained their very place of worship.
“Let them be my judge, jury and executioner,” I muttered to myself.
I was already a prisoner of my past, imprisoned in my thoughts of hopelessness and unforgiving despair. The world had abandoned me long ago into its own depravity and lustfulness. I was both a prisoner and participant in the life I so longed to escape.
I fell to my knees in desperation as I attempted praying to a God shrouded in uncertainty whether my prayers would be heard. Perhaps I truly only prayed to hear the soft whisper in my ear or a reassuring voice longing to fill my heart with hope.
For so long I’ve desired for a quiet, gentle voice to speak words of love and life into the emptiness I’ve so long burdened. Instead of compassion, I’ve only found criticism, instead of hope I’ve only found everlasting heartache and instead of friendship I’ve only been forgotten.
I’ve wandered t wayward through wilderness of despairing, defeated and defiant. My drudging thoughts were quietly interrupted by a voice beckoning my heart and my mind. My eyes searched for its source as a thirsty doe for a bubbling brook to quell its desire for water.
I was rewarded as my eyes gazed forward toward the white-robed man standing at the pulpit. His very eyes seemed to be centered upon my face as if I stood alone in amongst the congregation. Perhaps as if my broken heart was the only one he sought to mend.
The preacher said, “John 3:16 states: For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”
His sermon continues,” Jesus Christ loved the unlovable, the outcasts, and the individuals shunned and forgotten by society. Christ surrounded himself with his with the tax-collectors, the prostitutes, the poverty-stricken, the hopeless and the inflicted. Christ loves the homeless- those who we see sleeping in shop doorways that we choose to pass by-he offers them heaven as their eternal home. The drug addicts-individuals wrought with addiction and abuse- he offers freedom from addiction. The inflicted-those dying of disease, depression, despair and despondency-he offers hope through his death on a cross.
This very day among us despondency, desperation and desolation mask so much of our society. Our hearts are hardened to the very ones Christ’s has instructed us to love. Christ yearns to whisper to the hearts of the wilderness wanders, his hope searches to fill a searching heart and his love to reach the unlovable. Instead of answering our Savior’s voice, we ignore the whispers pressed upon our very own hearts. Today I am choosing to offer a challenge, Christ’s Challenge. Matthew 20:28 states: Just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many. May we wholly and faithfully serve the poverty-stricken, the inflicted and the despairing so the in truth we are truly serving Him.”
Tears welted my eyes as I walked toward the church doors once again into the Sunday morning downpour. My heart ached for the love and acceptance of this Jesus I’d heard so much about.
“Where are you, Lord,” I wondered to no one in particular.
A gentle hand grabbed my shoulder. “He’s here awaiting your arrival.”
My eyes wandered towards the white-robed preacher. I smiled as he offered me his hand.
“Never forgotten,” he whispered to my hoping heart.
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