Location: New England, United States

Saturday, June 10, 2006

The Engagement

Four years passed. I had married and my daughter was born a short time later. To make ends meet, I worked part-time as a cashier for a regional grocery chain. It was there that I met Lana.
Lana was my antithesis. As I was serious, she was carefree; I quiet and reflective, Lana talked incessantly. Because I liked to listen and she liked to talk, we quickly became friends. I invited her to dinner on the Saturday before Easter so our children and husbands could meet.

Her husband, Sam, introduced the subject of their new church; a small, Southern Baptist church outside of Louisville with a growing congregation. Both Sam and Lana described the new pastor with excitement and affection. An invitation for Easter services followed.

I had planned to attend the Catholic church, not because I was worried about my yearly obligation - Easter services are required to maintain your Catholicism - but because I had bought my daughter and I matching Easter outfits with picture frame hats and crocheted capes. Mass would provide the perfect setting to show off our new clothes. But, I agreed to forego the Catholic services for the Baptist services, "As long as I still get to wear my new outfit".

I will never forget the experience. The first part of the service did not differ much from the Catholic Mass. There was more singing, and the songs were livelier. The collection plate was passed around and the reading from the Bible was the same - the death and resurrection of Jesus. It was when we all settled down for the sermon that it happened.

I can't say today that I remember the content of the sermon, but I will never forget the feelings that jumped into my head while I sat there. I felt as though the Preacher could see right into my soul, and that he was speaking just to me. I wanted to run away. I didn't know it then, but now I know that I was under Conviction.

Yes, God definitely had a hold of me. Unwittingly, I had invited him into my life that day in the Catholic church when I had prayed for help, and although four years had passed, he did not forget that I had opened that door. Patiently he waited for just the right time to bring me up the next rung of the ladder - to salvation.

Forty-five minutes that sermon lasted - it seemed so much longer. I wanted to flee. Then, an altar call with the final hymn, "Just As I Am". It was as though the fiery furnace had been turned up as I watched people walk to the front of the church with tears streaming down their faces - how embarrassing! The service finally over, I walked out into the sunshine and took a deep gulp of fresh air. I was never going back to that church. I had felt things there that I had never felt before and I didn't like it.

My resolve did not last; I did go back. For months I would come away from the service vowing I would never return. Then all week, I could not wait to go back. I started talking to God again. I asked him what was going on? Why was I feeling this way? No answer. Just the weekly hymn, "Just As I Am" and the altar call. My life became sandwiched between the Sunday services, and the only time I felt alive was when I was squirming in the pew. My life between the services was deadness.

One day, I spoke to God. "I know what you want me to do. You do know that my parents will have a fit about this, but I will walk down the aisle on Sunday if you will just take away these awful feelings. Now, I am in your hands. Don't let me down."

I had just said 'Yes' to God. It was going to be a long ride.


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