I have a word search puzzle book that I love. Each page has a hymn to solve, and the opposite side has a psalm. While searching for words from a hymn, I was inspired to write a story using the word list. Here is the story; the words are underlined. Read it and then see if you can name this popular hymn. ~ Beth 

I was lost. I must have taken a wrong turn somewhere. How long had I been running? Even when standing still, my heart pounded, and I gasped for breath. I slowed down, and looking east, I saw a church with the doors open, a welcome to my tired and wretched soul. Alone, I entered the unknown darkness, feeling tossed about without an anchor, filled with fear it would never change

Conflict and doubt filled my mind as I stumbled to a pew and sat with a thud. I peered through the dimness and saw a tiny light burning above the altar.  Waiting for my blinded eyes to adjust, I bowed my head making one last plea

It was then I heard footsteps approaching from behind. I tensed, ready to run. But I relaxed as the footsteps echoed in another part of the church. “Must be the janitor,” I thought. I glanced around and saw statues and fixtures that looked as though they had been there for ages. My eyes were drawn to one particular painting. It was Jesus standing on a hillside pasture holding a lamb. Both Jesus and the lamb had a bit of a smile with kindness radiating from their faces. 

It was then I heard the music. Softly, ancient melodies fell upon my ears. I sat stunned, ashamed to think how long it had been since I last heard these hymns. Tears dropped upon my folded hands as my mind and body relaxed.  The fighting and fear took a backseat as the lyrics came from places long forgotten. “The Old Rugged Cross, Amazing Grace, Nothing but the Blood…” Softly and sweetly, the words washed over me, and tiny rays of hope began to break through.

Startled, I felt a hand on my shoulder. I turned to see a tiny, shriveled woman. Her hair was a crown of white, and her sagging face bore deep wrinkles. But her eyes were crystal blue and filled with the same kindness I had seen in the painting moments before. She sat and leaned towards me and simply asked, “Do you remember the Lord’s Prayer?” I nodded and we held hands, facing each other, and prayed it together. “Our Father…” When we finished, she candidly shared, “I felt a gentle urging to come to the church this morning and play a few melodies. I haven’t done this for years. I used to be the organist here, but a few years back, I stepped down due to my health issues and the difficult climb of 37 steps to the organ loft. But this morning, I was infused with the desire and strength to play once again.” 

Listening to her soft, whisper-like voice, I was compelled to disclose why I had come. I started to speak, but she leaned closer, patted my hand, and smiled. “I know why you have come,” she divulged. “I have seen the same look on many others and even carried it once or twice myself.  You are a little lamb that has lost her way, but the Gentle Shepherd is calling you home. His hand is reaching down for yours. Let Him carry you and relieve you of your doubts and fears. He will cleanse you, pardon you and set you down in a good place. Hold on to the promise, my dear. Come and keep on coming to the One who cares for you.” And with that said, she quietly left. Her words were like a prayer, and my world shone a bit brighter.

Yes, I would return. Return to the church and return to the flock. It would be an uphill climb, but I had a hand to hold and a promise to go along with it.

~ Beth Bankert

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