Sunday, August 28, 2011

Mary, Do You Know?


"Terry, do you know that lady who just walked by?" I asked as I stared at the petite figure of an Asian woman as she walked to the back row of the sanctuary. Her delicate features were diminished by her pale complexion.

"No, I've never seen her." Terry returned to her conversation.

I sat in my regular spot against the back wall of the church with the ushers. It was necessary for me to stay far away from contact with germs, being a transplant patient, and that meant far away from the congregation.

"Terry, I'm going to sit with her. She looks new and she looks lonely. I'm going to take a chance today." I continued to stare at the woman now seated in a row by herself.

"Don't do it," Terry chided. "It's too soon after your pancreas transplant."

I grabbed my purse and Bible and mumbled how the Lord would protect me as I made my way to her row. I never do thisact foolishly about my immune compromised state and say the Lord told me to. But I knew he wanted me to.

Already into the worship service, I placed my stuff on the chair next to the woman and began to sing. It was hard to participate with my usual gusto. I could sing and sing loud and well, but the prior week had blown the wind from my joy. After worship, there were a few minutes for meet and greet.

I turned to the woman next to me. "Hi, I'm Cindy. Are you new here?" Most of the time people thought I was new from all the Sunday's I lost to hospitals and travel.

"I'm Mary. This is my third time here." She smiled at me and her pallid tone brightened. "Do you come here often?"

"Actually I've been at this church for years, but lately I've been gone a lot because of health problems. I had a pancreas transplant three months ago in Chicago." Mary perked up.

"Oh, I have pancreatitis and if I eat fatty foods I get real sick. I'm an alcoholic you know. Tried all the programs but keep falling back into temptation." She continued to tell me how she had a fiance who was a diabetic and also an alcoholic and they both were Christians but hadn't been in church for years. I could see their failing health had her concerned and she indicated she needed to find God's will for her life and to seek his help with drinking.

Pastor came up and the teaching began. The scripture was based out of James chapter 1, the entire chapter, and was centered around temptationso relevant for Mary and me. She was seeking help with her addiction and I with a recent conflict. During the final comments, Pastor Steve shared about resisting temptation by weighing everything; is it Jesus or Satan offering the desire placed before us? He admonished us to "assign a name and a face to our choices."

The Lord spoke to me and I looked down at my hand. "Write the name Satan on your pointer finger so when you go to pick up the temptation you will be forced to examine whether it is I, or the enemy offering it to you." His example was clear in my thoughts. I showed my finger, after I wrote Satan on it, to Mary and told her what I heard from the Lord.

I also shared what he wanted me to tell her. I took her by her shoulders, her small frame trembling. "Mary, this is for you too today. Please don't get angry, and I know you don't even know me, but I have to share what Jesus wants to convey to you. You must forgive yourself now, today. I'm not saying to stop attending the programs you have tried, but today, realize he loves you and forgave you a long time ago. Now go from here and simply stop drinking. I mean it, just stop." Oh, how I had that what-did-I-just-do feeling in my gut. But I also had the peace of being obedient when the Lord has me share something personal and impacting—something I would never do on my own.

Mary grabbed her pen. She took my hand and fixed it by adding "NO Satan. YES Jesus." Then she looked deeply into my teary eyes and said, "You are right. And I needed to hear that today." I gave her my phone number to call me if she needed someone to talk to.
You never know. You never know what a conversation with a stranger will bring. Talk to people. That's what National Back to Church Sunday is all about. I can certainly talk and I'm not shybut I'm also a good listener. And Mary knew I was interested in her. Reveal your heart to someone new in your church. Invite a neighbor or someone you don't think will respond. You never know.

And if you live in the greater Spokane and Coeur d'Alene area, check out New Life Church's Back to Church Sunday concert on Saturday, September 17th:
Beatles Tribute Band Coming to Spokane - The Beatles’ music, reinvigorated by the Kirkland-based tribute band Creme Tangerine, will be presented in a free concert at New Life Church in the Spokane Valley.

Creme Tangerine doesn't try to dress or do their hair like the Beatles. Instead, the group seeks to be “a really good rock band with Beatles material”. The point here is to deliver nonstop favorite songs so the people can forget their worries for a night.

The Concert is Free!
Bring a Lawn Chair, kick off your shoes, and
have a great time!

With a special Back to Church Sunday service on Sunday, September 18th at 10:00 AM and another Creme Tangerine concert at 1:00 PM. Click HERE for directions to New Life Church.

You Never Know.

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