My stomach twists hard on itself.
My heart thumps visibly through my shirt.
And yet, a quiet voice: Share his story.
So I stand on weak knees and make my way to the front of church and the people, they stare as my nervousness grows. But I press on and in front of all those eyes, I tell his story; how his time card here on earth has been punched, how he’s looking from this world to that world, how he forgave much because he had been forgiven more.
“I guess his story is so inspirational to me,” I stammer, “because I wonder what I’m also doing to make sure I’m in heaven.”
Shortly after, sliding back into the pew, I regret ever standing and my stomach twists again.
I manage to survive the rest of the service and then I drive home… in silence.
We’re sitting together over a simple meal of grilled burgers and baked beans when she says it.
“I’ve been thinking… after you shared that man’s story in church, that I’d like to volunteer at hospice.”
Her voice is quiet, unsure, and when I glance at her, she lowers her gaze.
Growing up together, going to the same church, I know why her face is lowered.
Because she, like me, was never as good as her peers. Like me, she likely was the topic of other family’s dinner conversations. Like me, many religious people were probably quick to point out her lack of Jesus but slow to extend his understanding love.
Self-confidence can be shattered in mere seconds and can take a lifetime to be rebuilt.
Glancing at the food in her plate, I wonder if, like me, her stomach twisted when she admitted she wanted to do something for Christ and my heart crashes into my plate along with the hamburger I hold.
It doesn’t taste good anymore because my stomach has twisted too.
Sitting here, writing these words to you, I weep.
I weep for her, for myself, for all the broken people sitting in churches with a tired self-confidence and a tired faith. I weep for everyone who has been told by others that Jesus could never use someone like them who isn’t…
Maybe you’ve listened to their gossip too.
Maybe your voice has been ignored in Sunday school.
Maybe you’ve compared yourself to the “holier” person in the pew in front of you.
Maybe, today, it’s time to stop listening to the masses of confused voices but instead, start listening to the voice of the One who simply says, “Take up your cross and follow me.”
Oh, it’s not an easy path, the one that follows Christ, and it definitely isn’t comfortable.
Perfectly fitted suits and perfectly suited people aren’t found on this path, but instead, the people are full of scars and self-doubt and messy pasts. They don’t have every scripture memorized and chances are, they can’t read the Hebrew, Greek, and Latin translations. Their sinks are full of dirty dishes, their children know what a spit-bath is on the way to church, and sometimes they fall asleep reading their Bibles.
As Charles Martin says, “A broken cup can still pour water” and it’s these broken, beautiful people whose cups are overflowing onto this broken, beautiful world.
I do not share these words to call attention to myself but to give hope to others who have been ridiculed and hurt, who have been told they aren’t enough.
Friend, you are enough. You are beautiful. You are His.
Although the words above do not directly reflect the final chapter of Wonderstruck by Margaret Feinberg, her thoughts were the launching point for this post. As this is the final chapter in the book, Shelly Miller and I would like to thank each one who took part in these weekly discussions. And if you have a suggestion for the next book, please tell us!