For the Times You Are Tempted to Walk Away from God
That Sunday morning started gray and cloudy, with rain expected before noon. Crushed gravel crunched beneath my pumps as we walked toward the sanctuary. Years had passed since I crossed the threshold of a church. Memories of our last visit flooded my thoughts. My husband took my hand and winked. He knew I was apprehensive; he held me steady as my trembling nerves threatened to rock me off my heels.
We left our previous church after a grueling process of reporting a leader whose predatory behavior was directed toward me. Later we discovered I was not the only one. I believed then, and I believe now, that reporting him was the right thing to do. It was to protect women who would cross his path in the future.
But to protect others meant social suicide and shunning for me. The leader had carefully endeared himself to staff and contributors of the church. With his charming personality and personal pastoral care, he was able to skillfully camouflage his darker side.
When our report was made known, those I once called friends fled. Some called me a liar, a lunatic, a loose cannon. A place that should have been safe, became a place of great betrayal. Now, many people I had attended Christian conferences with, cooked and cleaned for during illnesses, and prayed confidential prayers with, turned their heads to avoid speaking when our paths crossed in public.
How do you bear a broken heart when your heart friends are no longer there to bear it with you up?
I lashed out at God. I told Him I was done with church.
“Where do I turn in my membership card?” I asked Him at one point. “Your bride has turned into Bridezilla and I don’t need this in my life!”
They say time heals all wounds; I don’t believe that is true. When something breaks into pieces — like who you are and the very foundation you stand on — there is nothing this side of heaven that can mend that wound. There is nothing that can solder the shards of a soul back solid again.
I wanted a window to open so I could escape this pain. But there was a problem. I knew Jesus. I had taught Jesus in Bible Studies and Sunday School. I knew my Savior was alive and well. I could not walk away.
Our soul can never walk away once we meet the Love that is greater than anything we’ve ever known. Even if it felt like God took a break right when life was snapped into pieces, I could not deny His presence in my life. My journal was full of times when He was there to coach, encourage, and lead me. There were entries of miracles, of divine introductions, invitations, and inspiration. How could I walk away from the One whose love and presence have never left me?
Hand in hand, my husband and I walked up the stairs into the sanctuary. My heart pounded with pain from the past, like morse code from my soul: thump, thump, thumpity-thump, danger, run, forget this.
We took a seat in the back of the sanctuary and watched people greet each other in joyful conversations.
My eyes wandered to the architecture. The ceiling looked like the belly of a large boat with its massive beams creating ribs to hold the church together. Circling the pew area were fourteen stained glass windows telling the story of Christ. Clouds outside had muddied their appearance and I struggled to see each story. The first window began with Christ being condemned to death, and the last ended with the His resurrection. Christ’s story told in small pieces of broken glass.
My gaze stopped on the window of Christ with His body dead on the ground and Mary wailing over her son. “Poor woman,” I thought, “you birthed and raised God’s Son — the Savior of the world –and they betrayed you, too. But not God.”
My gut churned and my eyes rimmed salty. Mary had the worst of Church hurts. And there I was seeing her shattered heart through pieces of broken glass.
I think we are all broken, aren’t we? Broken marriages, broken friendships, broken hopes, broken health, broken dreams? And even among Christians, our sharp broken edges can cut the tender places of others.
“It’s time to forgive,” I told myself. “Time to allow God to do something good with this broken heart.”
A whisper, as warm and gentle as a summer breeze, nudged my thoughts. Give Me your broken heart, and watch what I can do.
Outside the sun broke through the clouds, and beams of light started piercing through the windows. Jewel tones of emerald, cobalt, and ruby danced along the monotone ceiling, over the floor, and across people. And the stories told in broken pieces of glass lit up in a brilliant display of splendor.
God can use our broken places for our good and His glory when we surrender our stories to Him. Then our sorrows have value. In God’s hands, our stories become a light leading people back to Him — the One who can take our stained-glass shards and assemble them into a story that changes lives.Leave a Comment