It wasnít Robinís intention to attend Sunday services that weekend. Nor any other weekend, for that matter.
Cecelia Jordan, self-appointed leader of the pack (there were no other contenders), had decided for them all that this year, as highlight of their 20th class reunion, theyíd hit the pews of Highland Memorial Collegiate Church.
At some point in that 20 years, Cecelia ďfound JesusĒ and was--as was her wont--one of Christís most vociferous evangelists. It didnít matter whether her followers were convinced of her message; one was simply swept along in her wake.
Robin Tunney, however, had enough church to last her the rest of her life. Raised as a ministerís daughter (she liked to say she was born in the front pew, under the shadow of her dadís high pulpit), she got by simple osmosis the basics of religion.
Robin also ďgotĒ the basics of public presentation. From her perspective, what was presented on Sunday wasnít part of the reality of life at home. In her more philosophical moments, she likened herself to the cobblerís children, whose shoes were in constant disrepair, if they had any at all.
She didnít resent the lack of spiritual life in her parentsí home. She was comfortable; her mom and dad, when they noticed her, treated her with affection and a distant amusement. It surprised her sometimes that her mom was as busy with church activities as her dad was.
But Robin had a brain, and sheíd figured things out early on. Like her friendsí parents, hers had jobs that brought in the money that helped her live comfortably, with all her needs--and most of her wants--met. What she hadnít figured out was why all these people who came to church on Sunday, did so. What was in it for them?
Robinís history might have indicated that it would be someone just like herself who would have found comfort from the storms of life, and fellowship within that hallowed structure.
As life does, it had given Robin plenty of buffeting and an occasional bloody pummeling from which she thought she might not recover. Pragmatist that she was, she always bounced back--sometimes not very quickly or quite as high as before--but always with permanent scars and bruises. Accidental contact with those emotional leftovers often brought fresh pain, which drained her of strength and her own sense of security.
But that was just something she dealt with. Didnít everyone?
Even the worst of it: the emotional abuse from her husband which extended to her beloved daughter, and culminated in her sweet Samanthaís hospitalization for a time of rehabilitation; the disappointment of a lifelong friend who broke the friendship over a misunderstanding and in the process left Robinís heart broken; the untimely death of Robinís older brother Greg, killed by a drunk driver. Sheíd had her share; and yes, she must admit, these wounds drove her farther from the religion of her childhood. Not an innocuous practice, that old religion sometimes caused even more problems with its disappointing lack of understanding and empathy.
Seated in the sanctuary, squeezed in among her old friends, Robin listened with her usual half-an-ear as the current minister presented his case for Christ. She anticipated the usual: we must suffer with Him, for He suffered for us on the cross.
The minister didnít know, but the text he had chosen caused both Robinís ears to respond. Her surroundings faded as he spoke from Hebrews 4:15 and 16.
He expounded: ďAs our Lord in his humanity felt the same pain, frustration, disappointments, illnesses, rejection--all our human emotions--He is able not only to empathize with our human feelings, but to extend His healing and comfort to us as well.Ē
It had never before occurred to her that the human Jesus actually experienced the same emotions she had. Oh, that he had a headache now and then, or stubbed his toe, she understood. But his heart was broken? He was driven to tears! He worried and felt frustration? And because of His experiences, He was able to empathize with her?
Just at that moment, Robin at last heard the Word of God. Her heart called out to her High Priest, Jesus, and in great humility, asked Him to make Himself real to her.
Miraculously, and in His personal way, He did.
While her friends filed past her out of the church, she remained in her pew, tears flowing, and knew healing in her wounded, broken spirit.
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