Pam’s taxicab pulled up in front of 2360 Stickwood Avenue at 8 o’clock Saturday night.
“Hi Sis!” she shouted.
Sherry jumped off the porch swing, almost toppling her glass of lemonade. She ran down the steps and gave her big sister a hug.
“Why didn’t you call? I would have picked you up at the airport.”
“And miss you lookin’ like Momma swingin’ and drinkin’ lemonade?”
They giggled like ten year olds. Sherry carried her sister’s luggage into the house. The smell of sweet potato and cinnamon filled the house. In front of the kitchen counter peeling boiled sweet potatoes, stood their mother, larger than life.
“Guess who I found outside?”
Momma looked up. “It’s my firstborn! God has answered my prayers.”
She planted a sloppy wet kiss on Pam’s cheek.
“Hello, Momma. I hope all this isn’t for me because I’m on a diet.”
Momma let out a big belly laugh. “You girls are always worryin’ about your looks. These pies are for the church anniversary picnic tomorrow.”
Pam frowned. “I don’t know if I’m up to goin’ to church tomorrow. I came home to—”
“—hide? Gettin’ a divorce is not a death sentence. You need to get your mind off it and onto God. And don’t say you got nuthin’ to wear. Someone as concerned about her looks as you always has a sharp outfit.”
Both girls headed upstairs. Pam fell back onto her bed.
“Sherry, will I ever be happy again?”
“Put your trust in God, Pam. It’ll be okay.”
* * * *
Except for the new brick sign out front, nothing about Beulah Bible Baptist Church had changed in five years. A sea of colored fans flapping back and forth greeted them when they entered the sanctuary. Just as colorful, were the Sunday frocks complete with matching hats. A gold one with black trim reminded Pam of Saturn and its rings. Church remained the premier fashion spot on special occasions. Pam wanted to sit in the back, but Momma marched straight to the front pew.
Pastor Johnson approached the podium, wiping his forehead with a starched handkerchief.
“Good morning, Beulah Bible Baptist Church. I see we have new friends and familiar family here with us to celebrate seventy-five years in God’s service. He has been good and we oughta give Him some praise this morning.”
A collective “Amen” erupted from the pews. Pam squirmed in her seat. She hoped Momma hadn’t told anyone she was coming home. Praise was the last thing she felt like giving. Her spirit had been broken and her joy sapped.
“The message today is about restoration. In Isaiah 61:3, God says that He will give us beauty for our ashes, the oil of joy for our mourning times, and the garment of praise for our spirit of heaviness. Let God lift the weight this morning.”
Pam’s eyes widened. Was he talking about her? Could God still care after she’d turned her back on Him?
“Stand up, Saints! Shame that Devil and reclaim the joyful spirit God set aside for you. Hallelujah!”
Pastor Johnson began to dance in the Spirit around the pulpit. The musicians played a familiar beat in time with his movements. All around the sanctuary people leapt to their feet clapping and shouting praises to God. Ushers surrounded the ones dancing in the Spirit to keep them from bumping into things. Hats not secured by bobby pins flew high in the air.
The music rose to a fever pitch along with the Spirit. Something stirred inside of Pam that she couldn’t ignore. She stood on her feet with hands outstretched.
“Pour out Your Spirit on me, Lord.”
Her feet began to move in time with the music. She closed her eyes and surrendered herself to God’s will. Tears streamed down her face. Once again, she had found her place in Him. When she opened her eyes again she was seated on a back pew. Sherry fanned her like a mad woman.
“Girl, you shoulda seen yourself! You were all up and down this aisle. God sure gotta hold of you.”
Pam smiled. “I forgot how much I missed this church.”
“How do you feel?”
“God gave me back His joy. It’ll still be hard for awhile, but I know I can make it now.”
“Momma always said God’ll find you when you need Him and there’s no better place to meet Him than Beulah Bible Baptist Church.”
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