Is God listening?

Luke 18:9-14

Two women were praying in a church. One was a church member who had come in to set up for Sunday School. The second was a local sex worker that occasionally came to the church food bank for groceries. They almost sat next to each other, but on different sides of the aisle.

The good Christian woman thanked God for her blessings. “Thank you Lord that I have two good kids, doing well in school. Thank you that I have a loving husband and that we have a good strong marriage. Thank you that he brings in enough to care for our family, that we’re able to tithe to the church and still afford the occasional little luxury. Thank you that I feel safe and secure and my family is well respected.”

She sneaked a quick look across the aisle at the other woman who was sat with her head bowed so low it was almost In her lap. She wondered if she’d fallen asleep. “God, she’s in a right mess. She hasn’t even looked up once since she came in. I can’t blame her, I’d be ashamed to come in here and pray if I was her. Not that I’m judging her Lord, she probably doesn’t know any better. Bless her Lord. Help her to repent and make better decisions. I’m sure she could be a good woman if she tried”.

The woman across the aisle had walked past the sanctuary door twice before she made her up mind to put her groceries down and go inside. She’d been at the hospital early visiting a friend who’d been badly beaten the night before. It was still touch and go; the price you paid for walking the streets. There was a little time before she picked up her son so she’d called by the church on the way home to pick up food. Suddenly she’d had the urge to pray, ask for help, perhaps see if by some miracle someone up there would look with favour in her direction.

She’d sat for a few moments not knowing what to do or say before hopelessness had gripped her and she’d started to weep. “Lord, you’ve no reason to listen to me but my friend Alice needs you. I need you. I’m so sorry Lord, I’m so sorry, but I don’t know what to do. I can’t change anything, I’ve got to pay the rent, got to pay the bills, and no one wants a mommy who does what I do, but how can I take care of my little one if I don’t? Lord, please forgive me, please forgive me, I’m so sorry Lord, please help me.”Without looking up she prayed “Jesus, I know I have no right to ask, but care for Alice and look after my little one. Please”.

The church member felt good that she’d prayed for the sex worker. As she got up to leave she stole a last look across at her, sitting alone, with her head bowed low. 

She didn’t have the eyes to see the weeping angels that sat with the woman, holding her hand, blessing her, loving her. She didn’t have the ears to hear the prayers that the saints lifted to God for Alice and the boy, even though they thundered across heaven with the power and command of God’s own Grace. 

She left the church and walked to her car. She had no idea that it wasn’t the sex worker who had pained God’s heart and needed salvation. She had no idea that angels were watching her leave and were sadly shaking their heads. She had no idea how dark the shadow on her soul. She had no idea, and drove home feeling good and righteous.

“Jesus also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.” Luke 18:9-14

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