Last night Sandy and I attended a Christmas party for Damascus Way, a local shelter for battered women. The batterings came from several fronts, an abusive spouse or boyfriend and life choices that led them into drug addiction or prostitution.
Our church has been celebrating Christmas with this ministry for 8 years. Last night it was once again, "Standing Room Only." The event was well-planned and everyone in the shelter received a gift; the Christmas tree was surrounded by stacks of colorful and neatly wrapped presents. Throughout the evening little children circled the tree searching for gifts with their names on them. Festivities included the CSU gospel choir and a professional piano player.
Then the women from the shelter sang . . . O God!
The ladies accompanied the song, "I Can Only Imagine," with sign language. They were radiant. Faces beamed. Tears filled their eyes. Redemption's joy was unveiled. The evening was a glimpse of the song they sang. Witnessing this absolutely wrenched our hearts.
When the ladies finished singing, Gary Johnson, one of our church members who organizes the event, said words to this effect, "We imagine what heaven will be like . . . our Pastor teaches about heaven and hell. Realize though, that some of these women imagine heaven, but have been to hell . . . they could tell you what the wallpaper looks like.