Alone in the church bathroom. Just a teenage girl and me. She leaned into the mirror and picked at her eye. Curls cascaded down her back. Tight jeans hugged her legs, while a vintage blouse added a feminine touch to her torso.
I dried my hands and tossed the waded towel in the trash, then flashed a smile at the girl. Her head jerked my way. A glimmer of a grin broke out as she adjusted her purse strap on her shoulder. I’d never seen her at church.
“Are you visiting?” I ventured, chewing on the corner of my mouth, almost afraid to ask. Given the size of our congregation, I’d mistaken a parishioner for a visitor on more than one occasion.
“Yes.” Her face turned pink.
What story lay hidden within this lovely young woman?
I cocked my head and said, “What’s your name?”
“Ah, lovely.” I extended my hand. “My name’s Eileen. Is this your first time with us?”
I felt an odd desire to reach out to this girl. “Would you like to sit with me?” I had no idea if there’d be enough room on the row where I typically sat. I took a deep breath and pressed on, praying the Lord would work out the seating.
“Okay,” she peeped, then trailed behind me all the way to the second row from the front, to the right of the sanctuary.
We sat waiting for the service to begin—a gray-haired grandma in the autumn of her life and a honey-colored teen blossoming with fresh possibility and potential. Yet I sensed something was wrong.
Was she running from an overbearing father? Reeling from a romantic breakup? What propelled her to our doors on a rainy Sunday morning?
I smoothed a hand over my slacks as chatter filled the room and praise team members took their spots on the platform. “What brought you here today, Sara?”
Her lips twitched as she clutched her purse. “I saw the sign and wanted to try it out.”
“Do you live close by?”
“Yes, not far from here.” Her gaze lowered.
The drummer tapped out a beat with his sticks, signaling the piano, guitars, saxophone, and trumpet to follow. We stood to our feet and joined the praise team in “How Great is Our God.”
All through the songs, the message, and the invitation, I prayed for this young girl—that God would grip her heart and bring her home to His heart. I panned the middle section to identify other teenagers with whom I might connect Sara.
Sure enough, Krissy, Laura, and Reba sat on the front row, eager new converts, their love for Jesus palpable. After the pastor’s final amen, I knew what I needed to do.
I turned to Sara. “Can I introduce you to some friends?”
A hesitant nod.
I smiled. “Okay, then.” I gently guided her to the circle of girls. Krissy’s eyes questioned me as she stepped to the side, then her lips parted in a wide grin.
“Krissy, this is Sara. She’s visiting today, for the first time.”
Like an ocean wave gently tugging at the shoreline, Krissy drew her in, talking to her as if she’d known her all her life.
The connection made, I withdrew, confident I’d played my part for the present.
A few weeks later, Krissy bounded toward me after the Sunday morning service. “You’ll never guess what happened. The girl—Sara—the one you brought over to me . . . well, after you left I said, ‘Do you want to get together and talk about Jesus? She said, ‘Yeah.’ So we did. And ya know what?”
I shook my head, Krissy’s enthusiasm filling me like soap bubbles rising in a bathtub.
“She invited Jesus into her life. We’re gonna meet again and talk more about Him.”
By now, my husband Chuck was at my side. He pulled us into a prayer circle, and we lifted up Sara and Krissy for the work He wanted to do.
I left that encounter marveling at the Holy Spirit’s leading. When we’re sensitive to His voice, when we pray and watch, He brings people into our lives who need His touch. Christ wants to use His Body, each member, to fulfill His mission. When we cooperate with His plan, we step full circle into celebration.
His Body at work. It doesn’t get more beautiful than that!
~~Eileen Rife, author of Laughing with Lily, speaks to women’s groups, encouraging them to discover who they are in Christ and what part they play in His amazing story. www.eileenrife.com, www.eileen-rife.blogspot.com, www.guardyourmarriage.com.