I woke up the following morning determined to make it absolutely impossible for God to speak to me. (I know. Sitting here, at a RV park in San Antonio, I read that sentence in embarrassment.) I’m not sure if it was arrogance or stupidity. Maybe it was just a matter of complete desperation. But, whatever it was, I had a plan in place.
In a pinnacle moment of maturity, I decided to play sick. Yep. I mean, if I don’t get out of bed all day, just pull the covers over my head, and tell everyone to leave me alone… God can’t possibly talk to me, right?
Everything went exactly as planned until around lunch time, when I heard the chime from my phone buried somewhere in the bottom of my purse. I immediately began kicking myself for not silencing my phone. This text, under any other circumstance would have been the answer to prayer. But, in my current situation, it would lead to my undoing. You see, the text was from a young woman who had been living with our family for months After living as a missionary overseas, she needed a place to land, to find her bearings. For months, I had been asking her to go with us to church. For months, she had passed on the invitation. Then, all of a sudden, out of the blue… yeah, okay, God… she sent me a text asking it I would go with her to a Good Friday Service. (Did I mention that it was Easter weekend?)
Here I was, faking illness, eliminating all contact with electronics and people… well, almost all… trying my best to keep any and all communication with God to absolutely zero. And then I get this text asking me to attend a church service with someone who hasn’t wanted to go to church in months. Something I had been praying for, wrestling with God on, for months. And, THIS was the day He decided to answer that prayer.
And that, folks, is how our God works. His timing really is impeccable.
I agreed to going to the Good Friday Service. But I was arriving late, leaving early and sitting on the back pew. Non-negotiable. (I can’t imagine what thoughts were going through this young lady’s head.) But, understand the predicament I found myself in: I was trying to avoid God… and now I was going to church, arguably, the last place you’d want to go.
Yet, there I was.
I remember parts of the service. It was cast as an ecumenical service. Seven different congregations were participating, most from conservative and/or liturgical backgrounds. But there was one that wasn’t… and that pastor decided to hijack the Good Friday script turning it into one of deliverance, prophetic words, and healing. You could almost see the heads explode one by one, starting with the Baptist congregants, shortly followed by the Anglicans.
Under “normal” circumstances, my head would have probably been pounding too. But, I was just counting down the minutes until the last song would be sung… and I would subtly exit my pew and run back to hide under the covers of my bed until the clock struck midnight. But, as the last song began to play, I noticed Katherine, another one of the young ladies from my discipleship group, at the front of the church. It was hard to NOT notice her, because she was waving to get my attention.
For about five seconds, I contemplated ignoring her. But, I knew something was wrong just by looking at her. And, by the end of those five seconds, I had this horrible feeling Katherine was part of God’s plan. It was the same feeling I get when riding a rollercoaster, about to crest the top of the peak… about to drop three stories with lightening speed.
Katherine lived in downtown Portland, right above the Planned Parenthood. On that particular Friday, protesters paraded in front of the building, holding posters not suitable for young eyes, citing scriptures found in the Old Testament… ignoring those in the New… telling those entering the doors of the clinic that they are murderers. And like so many other Fridays, Katherine walked down to the street and engaged in conversations with those firmly gripping their poster boards and their bibles.
One of the many things I love about Katherine is her heart for those who don’t know Jesus. Even in these moments with protestors outside of Planned Parenthood, she wanted the witness of the Church to reflect the love of Christ. Because of this, she tried to engage one of the protesters into a conversation. She questioned why they relied so heavily on the Old Testament, ignoring the words of love from Jesus that permeate the New Testament. But, like so many times before, the conversation went nowhere.
Finally, one of the women talking to Katherine shared her story, which includes multiple abortions. Almost as an acknowledgement of the impasse, the woman told Katherine that she doesn’t expect someone who’s never lived her experience to understand her position. In part, this woman was arguing that she has more insight, and by default, more of a right, to engage in this form of protest that arguably heaps on more condemnation than anything else.
As Katherine continued to tell her story from the previous hour, I began to feel the crest of the roller coaster fast approaching. As she looked at me, somewhat defeated by her interaction with the woman, I knew the Lord was using Katherine to check off all the conditions I gave Him. She finished her story almost with a resigned defeat, as she said her final sentence, “Maybe she’s right, I’ve never been in these women’s shoes. Why should they listen to me?”
And just like that, in the house of the Lord, on Good Friday, the Lord spoke in a way I couldn’t deny. I remember feeling sick, as I grabbed the pew to steady myself. Conversations were going on around me, but I couldn’t hear them. I couldn’t hear anything except the voice in my head, a volley of expletives and questions. Back and forth. Back and forth.
Katherine broke through the verbal tennis match in my head with a request for me to drive her home. And somewhere between the walk back to the car and my key turning the ignition, I became lucid again. I didn’t even make it 100 yards down the road before I pulled off to the side and asked Katherine to take out her calendar. I told her I thought God spoke to me through her and that I needed her to hold me accountable. I asked her to make a reminder on her phone, two weeks from that day, to check in with me. To hold me accountable. I apologized for being vague and explained that I couldn’t tell her anything more, but that I would explain everything in two weeks.
But, it didn’t take two weeks. It didn’t even take two hours. By the time I pulled into my driveway, I knew what the Lord was calling me to do. He was calling me to share my story. But there was one problem. No one knew my story.
So before I could share my story with the world, I’d need to share it with my husband.