The other day I stepped outside my office to stretch my legs by taking a walk around our church building. As I got near the auditorium, I encountered a woman I didn’t know coming out of the darkened auditorium. I said, “Hello,” and she said, “Oh, hi. I hope you don’t mind me being here. I just needed a place to pray and be with God, and your door was open.”
The more we talked, I learned that this woman’s husband had died back in January and she was still mourning his loss. On this day grief had gripped her heart again, and she felt very alone. That loneliness drove her to seek God, spend time with God, and talk to God.
There are times in our lives when we are so overwhelmed by the burdens we carry that we become keenly aware of our need for someone or something greater than ourselves, greater than our challenges, and greater than our burdens. We crave a being who transcends our world and its imperfections. So, we cry out to God. It reminds me of what Augustine once said: “Thou hast made us for thyself, O Lord, and our hearts are restless until they rest in thee.”
And what makes the story of Jesus such good news is that he invites us to find rest in him! Jesus said, in Matthew 11:28, “Come to me, all of you who are tired and have heavy loads, and I will give you rest.”
That’s what the woman who came to pray was seeking.
And I hope she finds it.
I invited her to our Celebrate Recovery program and to join us for worship on Sunday. I hope I see her again so that I, and the rest of the Alameda church family, can be a representation of the peaceful presence of God in her life and a tangible expression of the love God has for her. If I don’t see her again, I hope she will keep seeking God because she will find rest there.
I also hope I see another person coming out of our auditorium on my walks around the building. Our door is always open. But more importantly, the arms of Jesus are always open when we call on his name.