Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Space (01/23/06)
TITLE: To Worship and Be Freed
By Sandra Petersen
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All the worship songs and sermons in the world haven't freed me from this bondage. Only one solution remains if God doesn't answer. The pastor talks a pretty line about 'being Jesus with flesh' reaching out to the hurting, but where is Jesus for me?
In all the weeks I have come to this church, not one person has moved beyond a courteous "Good morning". For the record, though, I don't make meeting me very easy. I enter the sanctuary only when I hear the first song being played and leave just before the service ends.
Today the space I usually sit in is empty, and I am grateful.
<i>As I begin to pick out chords to the opening song, I reflect on the curious stirring that was inside me when the worship team met to pray prior to the service. I remember asking God to let us be Christ in the flesh to someone who needs Him today. Who is that person?
While I strum my guitar, I scan the faces of those in the congregation. Who's the hurting one that has caused such a surge of compassion in me? I see people nodding and smiling, some with outstretched arms worshiping in the Spirit. Who, Lord?
My eyes are drawn to a corner of the sanctuary; the last pew is empty but for one person. My heart stirs. She's the one!</i>
The guitarist is staring at me and I feel an urge to scurry away from this place. I command myself to remain seated. To avoid his eyes, I close mine and concentrate on the lyrics of the song.
"Okay, God," I breathe. "This is Your last chance! "
<i>I wonder why the Lord has singled her out today. I've seen her here several times before and she always seems so isolated and unapproachable, so confined to one tiny space.
The Lord doesn't give me any hints about her need, but nudges me into the beginning chords of 'Praise Adonai', usually the prelude to an altar call. I know that it's too early in the service for this. The pastor looks at me with curiosity but allows me to continue. People rise to their feet with their hands lifted high as though to grasp the hem of the Lord's garment in Heaven. All but her. She is listening, not singing, her eyes closed.</i>
What's going on with me? I know this song but I never felt this way before. Something or someone is touching my soul and whispering love to me. The presence expands within me and overflows. I sense that I could reach out and touch Jesus right now. His love is so overwhelming I fear my heart will explode! I'm crushed and yet lifted up in the strength of His embrace. Tears water my cheeks.
<i>Something is happening. The voices of the congregation sound like a great rushing flow of many waters. I see her stand, trembling, and stagger toward the altar, her eyes still closed.
"Lord, prepare us! " I silently pray.</i>
The words are now a pleasant-sounding blur as the music swells. I sense a vast golden space and people surrounding me. All their praise is focused toward a great throne. I am swept by the praise toward that focal point where one person stands, waiting for me. Falling before Him, I see His scarred hands. Pushing up the sleeves of my sweatshirt, I reveal my own self-inflicted scars.
The secret bondage is no longer hidden. His tears fall on my wounds and His scarred hands touch mine. I am free!
<i>I know that men aren't supposed to cry, but the Lord has done a miracle today in our midst. I don't know how He did it, but this child of God weeping at the altar has been set free. To Him be all the glory and praise!
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