“For a majority of the people, many of them from Ephraim, Manasseh, Issachar, and Zebulun, had not cleansed themselves, yet they ate the Passover otherwise than as prescribed. For Hezekiah had prayed for them, saying, “May the good Lord pardon everyone who sets his heart to seek God, the Lord, the God of his fathers, even though not according to the sanctuary’s rules of cleanness.” And the Lord heard Hezekiah and healed the people. 2 Chronicles 30:18-20
Through the Bible: 1 Kings 18; 2 Chronicles 29-31; Psalm 48
About a year ago, a precious, holy thing happened at church. During the first worship set, Kristie, one of our praise team members, saw a young man come through the back door. He looked rough. Long hair, bruises and track marks up and down his arms from drug use, saggy jeans, the works. Not the kind of young man you would automatically feel at ease around. In fact, if you were a mother with two young daughters, like Kristie, your first impulse might be to grab their hands a little tighter if you saw this guy approaching you.
Kristie watched him from her place on the stage. She saw him looking for a seat (We are a Baptist church, which means everyone gets there early so they can sit in the back. By the time the service starts, the only open seats are at the front). The young man came straight down the side aisle and sat down in the front row.
The worship set ended, and with incredible grace and courage, this young mother of two came off the stage, approached the man, and invited him to sit with her family.
He came back two weeks later and made a bee line for Kristie and her family. She introduced me to him after the service. She told me he’s an active drug user who wants to get clean. That he has no relationship with Jesus but he wants to learn more. And with him standing there she said, “I’m giving you two homework assignments this week. First, I want you to use one less time than you did last week. Second, I want you to pray to God as though He’s real, even if you aren’t sure He is. Pastor James is going to call you. I’m going to check on you this week, and I’m also going to call Pastor James to make sure he’s followed up with you.”
Kristie displayed Hezekiah’s compassion for people who were far from God. She saw in this young man a heart that God was turning back to Himself. And she was counting on the mercy of the good Lord to see beyond the track marks on the arms and the ignorance about God’s law, and instead accept his flawed and broken offering of praise.
And in the end, isn’t that exactly what all of us need? We might have nicer church clothes or a more stable family. The scars of whatever we are addicted to may not be as visible. But we come before God with the hope that He will pardon all of us who are sincerely seeking Him.
Now Lord, would you raise up more followers like Kristie, who like Hezekiah, will intercede for the unclean, and make room for them in your temple.