Mary spent her youth rebelling against God, but one September day, she entered a church. She had nothing to offer God and wasn't even sure why she was there. She thought if the people in the sanctuary knew all the cruel things she had done, they would surely hate her. Surely God could never have a place for her among these people.
Mary decided to just go in and sit quietly in the back. No one would know she was there. But during greeting time, many people introduced themselves and made her feel welcomed. If they knew my past, they wouldn't be so warm toward me, she speculated.
She was a recovering addict. She had lost her children because of her addiction. She'd been married and divorced too many times and had no money. She had nothing to offer the people in that church. How could God forgive her when she could never forgive herself?
As she listened to the pastor preach, she wished she could feel the joy she saw in his face. As the service ended, the pastor asked if any would receive Christ. How she wanted to be a part of the love she felt there. But if she openly confessed the sin of her past, what would they think?
The choir sang "Just as I Am," and Mary felt a love drawing her to come forward, but she resisted.
At that moment a woman sat down beside Mary and said, "No matter what you have done, Jesus will forgive you. Jesus loves you, and so do I." Those words were like music to her soul.
She knelt at that altar and gave all her hurt to Jesus. When she stood up, Mary felt more love than she had ever felt in her life. For the first time, she felt clean. When things get hard. Mary remembers the night God gave her His grace.
Thank You, Jesus, that Your unfailing love is not based on our past performance.
"The LORD delights in those who . . . put their hope in his unfailing love" (Psalm 147:11).