She edged closer as we chattered about life, family and the upcoming women’s retreat. She stood just a few feet away as if afraid to approach us – she was tiny and a bit timid. She walked slowly, almost painfully.

As the group began to scatter she asked one of the girls how she could volunteer to help out around the church. There was some stammering and stuttering and then a suggestion to ask the pastor’s wife – -because when all else fails send them to the pastor or his wife.

I joined in the conversation and soon all the others fell away. It was the two of us,  me and this timid woman extending her hand to help when she seemed more in need than most.

Her story came out in bits and sentence fragments. Open heart surgery just a few weeks ago. No longer able to work. Want to do something. Need to stay busy.

She told me “I’ve only been here a couple of times.” In the way she spoke, it’s like she expected rejection. I knew there was more to her story.

We talked about places she may want to volunteer. We talked about Wednesday night suppers and Sunday school and then I mentioned Bible study. She seemed excited, but a bit anxious. I shared the dates and showed her where we meet. We traded phone numbers.

As we walked out of the empty church building I told her I’d call next week about Bible study. Worry clouded her face, “I try to do good, but I always mess up.” I assured her that most of my life consisted of a series of mess ups.

She told me “I try to keep it straight, but then I fall back into the old ‘stuff’” and assured her I had lots of turns and curves on my path. I shared that much of my life was spent face first in a ditch of sin, but I realized that my words had little impact. I look like the church girl. I carry the bible, I lead the studies, and I seem like I have it together (which is so far from the truth).

As we parted ways, my heart was heavy. She’d had the open heart surgery, but I felt as if my heart was broken.

Does she think that she has to be  living good and on the straight path before she can come to Bible study?

Does she think she has to fit the mold to come hear about God’s saving grace?

What are we doing if people think they have to fit in to come in?

What am I doing ?

“For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.” John 3:17 (ESV)

Are my actions condemning or uplifting?

Do I make people think they have to look a certain way and live a certain way before I can connect with them?

The gift of salvation isn’t for the saints, it’s for those in need.  The gift of grace and mercy is for all those who call on the name of the Lord.

“That if you confess with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.” Romans 10:9 (NIV)

I’m doing a lot of reviewing how I interact and connect with people and what kind of message I’m sending.  Doesn’t matter what I think I’m sending, it DOES matter what people on the receiving end think.

What kind of message are you sending?

What do you WANT to send?