Love in Ruins XX – The Church
‘Good morning!’ Mrs Stafford was so happy to have had Lynn sleeping over last night that she didn’t bother about Carl not showing up. She knew her son too well, he wasn’t the kind to go and do something silly just to get back at Lynn.
‘Good morning Mrs Stafford…’ Lynn wasn’t as happy that morning. Carl not coming home last night felt like a bucket of cold water in all the hope Mrs Stafford had given her the day before. He was probably with Anna, he was probably over her.
‘Would you like some breakfast?’ Mrs Stafford smiled.
‘Sure. Is Mr Stafford coming?’
‘Yes, he’s just getting ready to go to church. I’ll need to get ready myself too… in fact, why don’t you come with us today?’
‘I don’t really like going to church Mrs Stafford, besides I want to spend the rest of the day with Lizzy as my return flight is later tonight.’
‘Oh but Lizzy also goes to church with us on Sundays… she loves going. What if you went and after church we could all have lunch at Nelly’s and then you’d both go to the park? Lizzy loves going to Nelly’s, she says it reminds her of you…’
‘That’s a good idea Mrs Stafford, but… but I don’t really want to go to church. Lizzy could miss church today right?’ Lynn was beginning to feel upset.
‘She can, if that’s what you want…’ Mrs Stafford looked disappointed. Lynn could see how much church was important to her and she really didn’t deserve this kind of treatment, not after yesterday.
‘I’ll tell you what. We’ll all go to church. It’s going to be my first time going, it’s not like I’m going to start attending it right?’ Lynn smiled.
‘Right.’ Mr Stafford said firmly. He was carrying Lizzy who had just woken up. ‘How did you all sleep last night?’ He asked Lizzy.
‘Good! Very good! I loved sleeping with mommy.’ She looked around and asked ‘Where’s daddy?’
Everyone looked at each other. Lynn couldn’t even look up so Mr Stafford spoke up. ‘He had something to do Lizzy, he’ll be back soon.’
Carl arrived in church early. He must have been one of the first people to get there, which meant all the pastor’s attention was going to be his, but he was ready this time. He wanted to commit to God this time.
‘Hello, I’m pastor Marcus, welcome to our church.’ He stretched out his hand ‘What’s your name?’
‘Carl, nice meeting you pastor. You must know my parents, they come here regularly. Mr & Mrs Stafford, remember them?’
‘Oh sure. They assist us almost daily. Your mother talks a lot about you, she must be so happy to know you’re coming today!’
‘She doesn’t know yet. But I bet she’ll be when she sees me.’ Carl smiled and then continued ‘Pastor, I’ve been far from God for way too long… I want to commit to Him this time, can you help me?’
‘You’ve come to the right place Carl. Coming to God’s House is already a first step. Now what you’ve got to do is leave your past in the baptism waters. You need to be baptized and start a new life with God.’
‘I got baptized when in my teenage years, didn’t that count?’
‘Not if you left your faith. The reason one is baptized is to leave their old self behind and start a new life with God. That is, you commit to live for God from then on. If you got baptized and then went back to your old self, that baptism didn’t mean anything to God.’ The pastor was pretty sharp with his words.
‘I understand… so I’m ready then. This time, I really mean it.’ Carl said looking straight into the pastor’s eyes.
‘Okay then. We’ll have baptism next Sunday, prepare yourself this week. Sanctify yourself from everything that may still be keeping you in sin or away from God. Be it a grudge, a resentment, pride, or anything of the sort.’
Carl sat in one of the front row seats. He needed to think about those last words the pastor had said to him… grudge, resentment, pride… he had those and more. Was he really ready to give them up now? That meant forgiving Lynn! That meant, putting up with everything she had done against him, as if nothing had happened. What a sacrifice… he needed to think about this more.
The meeting began, the initial prayer was made and as if the pastor knew his struggles, he called those who were having a hard time to let go of something for God. Carl didn’t think twice, he was one of the first to get to the front. That’s when Lynn saw him.
‘Lynn, look, Carl is here!’ Mrs Stafford said all enthusiastic. ‘He came Lynn, that’s a huge step for him. God is working in him already!’ She couldn’t resist the tears, Mrs Stafford had prayed for this day for so long.
‘I see him Mrs Stafford.’ She pretended to be happy but inside, she was questioning all that. Why is Carl going to church the day he didn’t go home? Was he feeling bad now that he spent the night with another woman? What a hypocrite! At least she had been honest about what she had done to him and she knew the consequences of what she had done. She didn’t need God to save her from those.
When the prayer was over, Carl went back to his seat and for a minute, he saw his parents and Lynn in the back. He couldn’t wait to go and talk to them, but he was going to wait for the meeting to end.
Author of the books "Better than a new pair of shoes", "V woman" and "Casamento Blindado" (Bulletproof Marriage). Founder of "Godllywood" and "Rahab Project". Presenter of "The Love School" at Rede Record.