It must have been awkward for Trish to attend the Lifegroup at our church, since her non-Christian husband never came with her. My husband Tom and I were one of five couples attending the group. Trish was the odd woman out, but she found her place by leading us during the worship time.
She would praise so genuinely that sometimes I would open my eyes and wonder if I was on earth or in heaven. Whenever complimented, she would remark, "Please don't tell me how pretty I sing. Tell God how awesome He is for singing through me." The one word I would use to describe her? Anointed.
Then she suddenly ceased attending. Meeting after meeting, she would present one excuse after another as to why she could not come.
"Are you ok, Trish?" I asked when I finally got her on the phone.
"Yes," she tried to assure me, "I'm just busy." Her voice sounded strangeeven fearful. I prayed for her before saying good-bye.
Another "Sorry, I can't come," message reached me the next week, and I felt led to pray.
Lord, You know Trish. I'm scared that she's being abused or something. Help her to ask for help from her friends, Father. Please show us what to do.
Immediately after I rose from my knees, the Holy Spirit prompted me to invite the group to our place the following night. Tom and I had never done so before, as we were embarrassed about how small our house was, but I was going to obey God. Tom will forgive me for not running it by him first, I reasoned.
Jim and Tracy arrived first, and Jim brought his guitar as a result of some arm twisting. "Ok, I'll do it," he relented, "IF you guys won't make fun of my old guitar or my crickety voice."
"Deal!" I vowed.
Tom continued to greet the others at the door while I served the snacks and tried to find places for everyone to sit comfortably. It'll have to do, I assured myself.
Trish was the only one who wasn't there.
Where's Trish? How are You going to help her if she's not here, Lord?
"Well, guys, welcome to our humble abode," Tom announced.
Trying not to show my disappointment, I added, "I had hoped that Trish could come, but since I didn't hear from her, I'm concerned. Could we pray for her?"
Keith White took the lead. "God has laid a prayer burden for her on my heart for some time, so I'll pray." We all bowed our heads, and I prayed with my mind with as Keith asked the Lord to "find a way to bring Trish back to us."
A beautiful chord sounded, and then Jim sang, "God will make a way, where there seems to be no way. He works in ways, we cannot see." *
As his finger strummed the strings of that old guitar, I was surprised how rich it sounded. After the song, Tracy said, "I'm always amazed when such a magnificent sound comes out of that ugly thing."
Jim retorted, "Hey! Who you callin' ugly?" That sent us into a wave of one-liners and laughter, until we suddenly noticed Trish standing just beyond our circle. She had walked through the front door without our noticing. Her eyes were filled with emotional tears that looked like they could flood our entire home if permitted to flow freely. Her voice broke through the silence, "God made a beautiful sound through that old beat-up guitar--and it made me realize that maybe you guys will still love me even when you find out that I'm even more beat-up than it is."
I said, "Trish, of course we will still love you. What is going on?"
A wave of shock shot through my heart when she sobbed, "I've been having an affair. I'm such an ugly sinner!" The floodgates opened. "But I need help. I don't want to do this anymore."
I couldn't breathe. We all stood stunned, but just for a moment.
What a nightmare, God. Please show us what to say and do.
We took turns praying over her, each of us committing to help her walk through the steps of restoration as stated in Scripture.
It could have killed our group, but it made us stronger instead. I was blown away by the power of God in our living room that night. The word Trish uses to describe our Lifegroup in her restoration testimony now? Anointed.