Those were the closing words to a letter that I received on Sunday morning from a 74-year old woman who chose to give her life to Jesus at Awaken. She was 1 of 9 people, ranging in age from 19-74, who made faith decisions that day. Apparently she had made the decision to put her faith in Christ a day or two before, went to our website to sign up to be baptized, but couldn’t fit her whole story in the text box. She really wanted to share it with me, so she wrote it out and brought it to church with her. As I gave the invitation, her hand went up from the back row. When I called people forward, she left her walker by her chair, and slowly walked down the middle aisle, holding onto each chair as she went, as both venues cheered her on. It was a powerful moment, to say the least.
After service was over, I hugged her, took a picture with her, and she handed me the following letter. After I read it in my office (and wiped the tears from my eyes), I asked her for permission to share it on my blog…
I was baptized (sprinkled) as a baby and was a member of the Methodist church until adulthood when I strayed. I was disillusioned with ministers who ‘talked down’ to the congregation and acted as if they were not sinners, and congregations of cliques and people who thought they were ‘better.’
At one of my lowest points, my first husband moved me and his kids to Minnesota and then found his ‘true love,’ and I was only a convenience to take care of his kids until he got settled in his new job. I was completely devastated and knew no one there so I called the local Methodist church. I asked for [the pastor’s] help and support and his reply was that since I was not a member of his church, he could not help me, and frankly, if I had marriage counseling, this would not have happened. [This was] only one of many times when I felt abandoned by my ‘church.’
I turned to alcohol as my comfort and often drank too much at parties, becoming sexually promiscuous with acquaintances (at least never with strangers). This led to pregnancy and then abortion, which at that time was illegal and done in back rooms all over the city. Perhaps my very lowest point.
[I went through] many, many years of struggling by myself, knowing God was there, and in spite of myself He took care of me.
I met and married a wonderful man, my ‘soul mate.’ He was a kind and loving man who loved me until his dying day in 2006.
For the last few years I have had a lot of medical issues. When I fractured my back, I learned that I was on the prayer list at Awaken and that these wonderful people had been praying for me for over two years. Praying for someone they did not even know! At that time I was so afraid that at my age I was destined to live my life unable to walk and in tremendous pain. God has always been in my life but mainly in the background and I wanted to be closer to Him. I put myself and my life fully in His hands and I know I felt and heard those beautiful prayers sent on my behalf. I had hope and felt love. I came to Awaken Church to meet these wonderful people and found a whole entire faithful family.
After many years and many sins, I hope I am not too old to be forgiven for these sins. I want to become closer to God and give my life to Him.
Jan learned that no one is too _____(anything)_____ to be forgiven! Her desire came true on Palm Sunday, March 20, 2016. It’s a new day, and at 74 years old, she’s a new creation! She plans to be baptized in 2 weeks at our first baptism of the year!
To Jan and anyone else who thinks they are too _____(fill in the blank)_____ to be forgiven, here’s the truth: you’re never too far for God to forgive you, repurpose your pain, and give you a reason to live. He is faithful – regardless of how unfaithful we have been!