by Barry Newton
“This morning I stayed up until 5 a.m. Yesterday, I was up until 6 a.m,” she said.
The mysterious lady had been found. As darkness engulfed our city, I sat amazed and encouraged at Shari’s diligence in searching the scriptures.
Months earlier a white membership card bearing an unknown name had appeared among the stack of collected Sunday morning cards. Who was Shari?
Week after week, month after month, her membership card surfaced, but somehow she continued to remain elusive in spite of our efforts. In retrospect, her invisible appearances are more comprehensible.
At first, she had chosen to visit our congregation because of its larger size, which she believed would enable her to become lost in the crowd. Desiring to avoid personal contact, she became adept at navigating among the ebb and flow of foot traffic.
An address from her check finally provided a solid point of contact. Arriving home one day, she discovered a church mug filled with candies and a business-card greeting. A scribbled note indicated we would really like her to be a member.
The following Sunday morning after worship, a flash of white teeth approached me as the words spilled forth, “I’m Shari. I thought I was a member here.”
This introduction morphed into a dialogue at a table where God’s story unfolded.
She listened intently how that through Jesus’ death, God created a new basis whereby he promised to forgive and to recognize people as his own. She heard how this good news instructs people to trust in Jesus to receive forgiveness and membership among God’s people by being buried in baptism. Intelligent questions by Shari ensued.
And then she disappeared with a smile.
The following Tuesday night around 8:30 p.m. a cell phone rang. At the other end was Shari. “I am ready to be baptized right now.” She had spent hours scouring her Bible.
Shari is invisible no more. Her name now appears in the Lamb’s book of life. Her presence is known, appreciated, and accounted for in the midst of our church family.
Her story is just one of many how God continues to work today making people alive with Christ.
by Barry Newton