“And they will know we are Christians by our love, by our love…” Walking hand in hand down the hallways of a nursing home where I worked, a mentally-challenged choir from Hope Haven trilled like a robin heralding spring.
A lonely tendril in my aching heart reached out to lap up the life in those words, but it could not burst through a topsoil of hell and damnation.
“We will walk with each other, we will walk hand in hand…” No, no, no! Do not listen to this! This song is not “the Truth” as our church teaches. I may not walk hand in hand with such false assurance. As the fires of hell nipped at my heels, I frantically slipped on my stoic mask and judgmental cloak and snuffed out the wistful longing to know what comfort these people had that was so foreign to me. And the chains that kept me from the love of Jesus tightened their grip.
Sexual abuse under the name of God threw away the keys to the chains, and I lost even more of who I am made to be in Christ Jesus. I was branded as the whore who beguiled the “poor servant of God.” No one ever asked me what really happened, and I was doomed to shame.
Many years later, my husband and I finally left that church. A “friend” warned me, “Just THINK of what you’re doing to your children,” she said. She and many others treated us as if we and our children were now lost because we had left the only church who preached “the truth.” In their eyes, we were headed to hell.
Praise God! My life is in the hands of God, not that of people. I will never be lost to Jesus. He alone is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. What greater love is there than that He would sacrifice His own life to save you and me? In fact, every word Jesus says and every act He performs is bursting with unselfish love and boundless compassion.
I still hear those precious voices singing a melody of love. I thank God that He planted that seed in my memory and that today those words have blossomed in my heart. I wish I could go back to that time and hold hands with them and sing praises with them at the top of my voice.