Rachel led her two sons toward the church. She wanted them to learn about God. Her heart was pounding and she was trembling as she sat the boys down in a pew near the back. Several of the women glared at her. It was obvious they were offended by her presence. An equal number of men squirmed nervously beside the outraged wives. They knew who Rachel was too; several had even falsely boasted of liaisons with her. She knew her bad reputation was a result of her own actions, so she did her best to ignore the angry looks.
One of the women approached and asked if she'd mind scooting down the pew. Her friends wanted to sit beside her, she explained. Rachel smiled and said she'd be glad to move, mistakenly thinking the woman was being friendly. As soon as she settled, the woman asked her to move again. Once again Rachel moved her sons and settled in, only to be asked to move again and again until they were pressed hard against the end of the pew. It was painfully obvious what their game was, so Rachel quietly got up and moved herself and her sons up to the next pew. As they sat down in front of the group, the whispers began. Her face burned at the words being whispered. She knew the accusations were false, but it would be pointless to say so. What broke her heart most was knowing her oldest son could hear all the ugly words and knew they were directed toward his mother. Thankfully her youngest son wasn't old enough to understand. She sat there with her arms around each boy until the sermon ended.
After the service, Rachel and her sons walked to the door. Several women deliberately bumped into her as she made her way out of the building. Only the kindly minister offered her a sincere welcome, his wife deliberately turning away and talking to another parishioner when Rachel approached.
At home Rachel and the boys ate their lunch. After they were done, she settled the boys down for their naps. She quietly went to her room and buried her head in the pillow to cry bitter tears. Praying, she asked God why He would lead her to such a hateful church. God spoke to her heart once her tears and mind quieted. He let her know that if she was going to go to church she needed to go for the right reasons. She needed to go for Him, and not for people.
Rachel continued to go to that Church sporadically for a short time. There were always those who went out of their way to let her know how unwelcome she was. After a few months she gave up trying to break through their icy hearts. Her faith was just too weak to keep facing their rejection. However, she never stopped telling her sons of God and His love, and how important it was to put their faith in Him.
Two years later in a different town, Rachel walked into church with her sons. This Church is much different than the previous one. She's very active here, attending every service and most special events. All the people have opened their hearts to her and her family. They reach out to her in love even though they know all of her past. As she works her way up the center aisle of the church several reach out and grab her in welcoming embraces, while others clasp her hand and say how good it is to see her and the boys. By the time she reaches her pew and settles the boys into place it's time to join the choir.
She sees welcoming faces everywhere as she looks across the congregation. Their love is like a warm balm to her soul.
God, thank you for teaching me that church is not about acceptance from people, but about You. But I sure do thank you for providing me and my sons with a church that truly makes us feel welcome. Oh thank you God, for giving us a wonderful church to worship and have such sweet fellowship!
Rachel stands as the choir begins the hymn, her face glowing from the love and acceptance she has felt from God and this congregation.
From the beginning the Lord let me know I was to share whatever He inspired me to write. Now, over a decade later, I'm still sharing what He's given.