"I tried to say I was sorry, but I broke into tears – too much to speak, and I fell on the floor and cried."
I was a baptized Catholic who no longer went to church, didn't pray, and definitely did not exemplify a Christian lifestyle. I had been singing in a rock-n-roll back for four years and had all of the vices of a fast track lifestyle.
I began seeing a woman who was in the middle of a divorce. I decided to leave the band because neither the money and alcohol, nor the women in the clubs could fill the emptiness in my heart. I was searching for love and I thought she was it. When she became pregnant, I figured I was on the road to happiness with a wife and a family. She on the other hand became threatened because she feared losing the two children she already had in her upcoming custody battle. She said she wanted to have an abortion, and although I did express that I wasn't real happy with that decision, I said that I would stand by her either way.
The day of the abortion I became so sick to my stomach that I had to leave work. I was honestly in so much pain on the inside that I sweated all day, my hands shook uncontrollably, and I couldn't keep any food down. I tried all day to ditch the feelings, but nothing worked. At 11:30 at night I somehow made it into a church parking lot. When I got to the front door, I startled the Pastor of the church, and he really startled me too because neither one of us expected to see the other. The priest said he couldn't sleep that night, so he got up to see if he could get some work done at the church. He asked me how I knew he was coming to open the door. I still wasn't sure how I got to the church, let alone to the front door. But right about then I felt an amazing surge of life. I knew God had His hand in all of this. The priest let me in. He went into the office, and I went towards the sanctuary.
When I started down the hallway to the church, I lowered my eyes to the ground, and tried to say I was sorry, but I broke into tears – too much to speak, and I fell on the floor and cried.
Then I felt arms around my body. I actually felt the pressure of someone holding me, but I couldn't see anyone. As the feeling of an embrace faded, my tears dried, and I sat there in God's presence. He forgave me and He just wanted me to accept His love and allow Him to change my heart. Needless to say, I'm much different today.
Somewhere there is one little child whose very short life was singly and solely responsible for my coming back to Jesus. As strange as it seems, I am as proud as a father can be.
(Pete Eastman is not the writer's real name.)
Saint Columban Church,
(Saint Columban Church closed in 2013)
Editorial commentary: This story tells me that when a person feels truly truly sorry for what they did (Pete's feeling of illness on the day of the abortion and attempt to say he's sorry), and reaches out to God (Pete's somewhat autonomic reaction to make his way to a church, with no plan whatsoever for getting into the church), the person may be pleasantly surprised by God laying out the red carpet (being greeted by a surprised priest at exactly the right moment to let him in the door; a confirming surge of life; a hug from a being with no physical presence).
I'm also struck by the way the Lord may have used the priest to facilitate this reconciliation event. It was apparent that the Lord did not share with the priest the story in advance. Yet, without knowledge of the events about to pass, the priest somehow responded to a need to wake up to get some work done in the church - at that exact moment. The priest also somehow knew that the best next step was to leave this unknown rock-n-roller alone in his own church - a risky move, and he was willing to take that risk. My take on this priest is that he was willing to let himself be led by the spirit even without a full explanation of purpose. To me, that is a sign of a priest who is close to God. Without that priest's perception of God's direction for that evening, this event would not have happened.