So again, we took our seats, this time on a plane. An aisle to my left, my friend to my right, and a blond middle aged lady against the window. My friend asked her if she was from Boston.
I used to be. Now I live in Ft. Lauderdale.
Oh, I lived in Tampa for twenty years. Now we’re both pastors in Atlanta. (I nodded.)
He held out the book he was holding, The Question of God, “So what do you think?”
She laughed lightly, “I think so. I grew up Catholic but now I’m sort of nothing.”
Then gently over the course of two hours my friend asked her questions and articulated the wonderful freeing news of Jesus (not religion) to this sweet lady desperately lost. She was on her third man, with children coming from each. Her latest is not her husband though they’ve lived together in commitment for 16 years. She cleans houses and he is a mover. She believes in God but only from a distance.
My friend asked why her and her boyfriend never married, “It just never happened. But I would like to marry at some point.”
You should. It brings wonderful security for your children.
Huh, I’ve never thought about it from that point of view. I mean, I would like to marry, but the dream of a white gown and huge crowd is gone. I’d be happy with a small ceremony on the beach.
Did you ever dream to marry in a church or have you always wanted an outdoor wedding?
I just don’t feel worthy enough to marry in a church.
I can only suppose from her seat all this was a breath of fresh air, a God who is graciously and lovingly waiting for her, a pastor (a priest to her) who judged her none and asked and listened to her past and present.
It made me think of Sara Groves song Awakenings:
Dress down your pretty faith. Give me something real.
Leave out the thee and thou and speak to me now.
Speak to my pain and confusion.
Speak through my fears and my pride.
Speak to the part of me that knows I’m something deep down inside.
My friend never pushed her, only loved and encouraged. He led her to the door one has to open for the Lord to come in, and when she resisted taking her hand to the knob, he didn’t pressured, “Well, you’ll know when it is time to surrender all of this to the Lord, and the work of Jesus will cleanse you of all wrong-doing, and you will be forever worthy.”
We landed fifteen minutes early and got off the plane. We walked to our car. She boarded another plane to fly awhile longer.