He hasn’t been to church since the funeral of his wife. I didn’t think he would. He got burned by church years ago and decided that church wasn’t his thing. The only reason he came nearly every week over the past three years was because of his wife’s determination to go to church, even though her body was giving out, and she was confined to a wheelchair. She needed him to bring her, since she could no longer drive. Out of sheer love for his wife, he did it.
I never understood (until now) how someone can be so burned by church that they will never darken the door of a church building again. I thought that a Christian’s love for God would override the inadequacies of the people from the church, and that love could cover over all sin. I never knew how painful it could be to be falsely accused, and then have the pastor believing lies about you. It’s so wounding that you don’t ever want to put yourself in that position again.
Yes, I finally understood this man, the man who had come to our Bible study for three years, continually encouraging me in my parenting. His words set me free. I wonder if he understands how much his words meant to me.
On the day of his wife’s death, I wanted so badly to tell her that I would make sure her husband didn’t stray from God. I wanted to promise her that, with all my heart, I would do everything in my power to draw him closer to God. He’s 82. He’s set in his ways. Even his daughter confessed to me that she didn’t think her dad would go to church after her mom’s death. She said this right in front of her unconscious, dying mother.
On the day of the funeral, during the food reception, my husband was sitting beside him. I walked up to him with my plate of food and asked him what his favorite food was. He said steak. I asked him what his favorite dessert was. He said sherbert. I asked him, “Would you like to come over to my house for steak and sherbert? My husband cooks a good steak on the grill.”
His grieving face brightened, and he accepted my offer. Several weeks later, he came over for a nice, juicy steak and the best sherbert I’ve ever had. We talked and laughed. We were real. On his way out the door, he shook my husband’s hand, and he turned to hug me. He knows I love him. It’s so obvious in my eyes.
As he left the house to get into his car, I shouted, “Come sit with us at church on Sunday!”
He actually said yes.
I was so happy to see him at church today. People’s faces lit up when they saw him, and they hugged him and shook his hand. As the church service started, I said, “See, everybody loves you here. They can’t help but love you.” He smiled to himself. I hope and pray that he will continue coming, and hopefully the thought of being burned by the church will be a faded memory of the past…Tweet