“Tell Sarah I love her and that her baby is with me.” The pastor heard the voice as he was standing in front of the pulpit. His arms outstretched singing “Just As I Am” with his congregation, he waited to see if anyone would answer the invitation. Suddenly, the door congregation stopped singing as violent weeping erupted from the back of the sanctuary and made its way down the aisle toward the pulpit and the white-haired pastor. The owner of the sobs, a young woman, held her face in her hands. She wept and walked toward the pastor. She had listened to his sermon with her ear pressed to the big door outside the church; too ashamed of herself to enter.
But then she’d heard the pastor say God would meet her at the altar and would forgive her and she couldn’t stay outside. She tried to muffle her crying with her hands, but uncontrollable sobs shook her body as she took the last few steps to the pastor and fell into his outstretched arms.
“I don’t wanna go to hell,” the woman cried.
“You don’t have to.” The pastor reassured her. He began sharing the plan of salvation with her.
“You don’t understand.” She blurted.
The pastor started explaining that all she had to do was ask God to forgive her and to be Lord of her life from now on. Suddenly, the voice he’d heard moments ago, spoke to him again.
“Tell her what I said and then tell her I‘ve been waiting for her. I’m the voice.” The pastor stopped in mid sentence and instead of continuing to tell her about how she could get to heaven, he quietly said, “Sarah?” She picked her head up and as he looked into her teary eyes he could see her surprise. He knew her name.
“God wants you to know that He loves you and that your baby is with Him.” She stopped crying, but continued to shake uncontrollably. The pastor put his hands on her shoulders. He felt a little silly, but he continued.
“God also wants you to know that He’s been waiting for you and that He is the voice.”
The woman stood motionless, staring into the pastor’s eyes. Everyone was silent as they waited for whatever was going to happen next. The silence remained in the sanctuary for what seemed like minutes, but was actually a few seconds. Before anyone knew what was happening the woman began crying again, but this time she was laughing in between sobs. The woman took deep breaths and stopped crying. She addressed the congregation from in front of the pulpit; the pastor stood with his arm around her.
“My name is Sarah and God spoke to your pastor for me.” She took another deep breath and continued.
“Six months ago,” she said quietly, “I had an abortion and I just knew I was going to hell. So, I’ve spent the last six months feeling guilty and thinking about ways to kill myself.” The congregation listened intently. No one moved.
“This morning, I decided to jump up off the Mason Bridge, but as I was walking down the streets to the river, I heard a voice inside me say, ‘Come inside.’ I looked around and I was standing in front of your church. I walked up to the front door, but I couldn’t make myself come in. I just listened from outside until I couldn’t take it anymore. The voice kept telling me to come inside and I thought it was God, but I couldn’t figure out why He’d want me to come in. Then you,” she turned to the pastor, “you said God would meet me here and would forgive me. Emotions took over and I had to come inside and meet God.” The pastor smiled at her.
“When you called me by my name and told me about my baby, I almost fainted! And when you said that He was the voice, I was certain it was God who spoke to me as I was walking to the river to die.”
The pastor hugged Sarah and the congregation couldn’t stay in their seats. They flowed out of the aisles and down to the altar. They hugged Sarah and their pastor and tears of rejoicing filled the little church by the river; rejoicing that the man at the pulpit followed the Lord’s orders no matter how silly he felt.
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