Wednesday, April 24, 2013


"Is there someone who would drive me to church?"

The crowd of needy at the motel was smaller that night.  We had served chicken wraps with green beans and handed out bags of salad, sodas, and bread.  There was a girl with a tiny baby, and the lady who was hoping to get out of the motel and into an apartment soon.  There was the old man with two teeth and the overweight girl who told the tall tales every week.  There were addicts practically stumbling through the food line.  But this question came from a white-haired grandma across the parking lot who was looking through the donated clothes, hoping to find something that fit her.

I looked around, waiting for the girl without kids to answer.  I did not expect to say yes.  After all, I have five kids and our SUV is pretty much wall-to-wall bodies...but, in the uncomfortable silence, "Yes."

I can.

I called her on Saturday, figuring she would back out.  But she was still planning on coming, so I told her I would be there at 8:30.

Sunday morning came, and I wondered what was going to become of this.  I drove in my husband's car to that side of town.  You know, the one where the drug addicts and prostitutes live.  I drove to the hotel where the curtains of every single room are always drawn shut, where kids never play outside.  I called her when I arrived to let her know I was there, and slowly she came down the stairs.  She looked so weak, so frail.

She chatted on the way to church, about her life and the hardships she faces.  Health declining, strokes limiting the use of her left hand and leg, grandchildren in foster care, no transportation.  I wonder how old she is.  Probably much younger than she appears.

She sat with me in Sunday School and I wondered how this would go.  You see, I was leading a class on adoption and foster care.  This could be an awkward, difficult subject for her.

But God.

Little did I know that this class, teaching about God's heart of adoption, about being willing to say yes, about loving kids from hard places and the stringent requirements of the state regarding adoptive and foster families would minister to the heart of this sweet grandmother.  She was reassured that her grandchildren are in a good place, receiving good care, by good-hearted people.

After class we went into the sanctuary for the service.  She reeked of cigarette smoke, but her toothless smile shone as the music began.
"I love it already!" she gushed.

Her hands raised in worship and I marveled at what God was doing here.  The body of Christ embraced her and loved her and made her feel welcome...and loved.

"I feel so good," she said with a smile.

She came again this week.  Again I pulled up to that seedy motel, the one filled with darkness and the influence of the evil one, and this sweet grandma emerged into the light and worshipped with joy.
She told me she might have cancer and I realized, with an awe-filled heart, that God might have placed us here in her life for such a time as this.  That in these days of decline she will be encouraged and surrounded and have friends among God's people.
My kids love her, especially Gracie, and she lights up when they give her a hug.  They don't even notice the cigarette smoke.

To be loved is the deepest of human desire.  To be known and seen, to be important to someone, is the longing of every heart.  

Next week she is staying for the church picnic.  Maybe she can talk her husband into coming this time.
Maybe, over time, our church will be filled with the people who have been stuck in these motels.

That sounds like church the way God intended it, don't you think?

1 comment:

  1. God is ever awesome that you get to be an integral part.


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