Twenty-three years ago, I was directed to a newly formed “New Beginnings” Sunday School class. My wounds, still fresh from a punt kick to the heart, made me wonder if I’d ever fit into a Southern Baptist Church.

I dropped the boys off at their classrooms and nervously proceeded to a little brick house perfectly situated on the church campus. I couldn’t help but wonder what or who awaited me behind the six-paneled door. Could there really be other young divorcees in this church who might relate to my circumstances? 

I inhaled as much courage two lungs would allow, turned the knob, and slowly opened the door.

A quick survey of the room left me both stunned and delighted as I noticed the majority of the group were older men and women who had been widowed.

Immediately, a woman who’d agreed to co-lead the new class stepped up, wrapped her arms around me, and welcomed me with a warm smile that could melt any barrier guarding the heart. Her name was Lavana. 

Over the next few months, I attended a masquerade for our group at Lavana’s home and hopped on the church bus for a local fish fry, among other things. This group of men and women embraced me despite my sinful past. Unconditional love defined. 

This past Sunday, I drove back to that church in my hometown to attend Lavana’s visitation services. 

As I made my way home, I couldn’t help but wonder how things might be different today had she not stepped up to help lead a new class so many years ago. What if she’d been too busy or too timid to step out on faith?

Lavana loved well. Served well. Prioritized well. 

And as a result, many will be forever grateful. Who will say the same about us?

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have
been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the
joy of your master.’ 
Matthew 25:23 ESV