Dear Brother Hamilton,
I have more of a story to tell you than a question to ask. First, I want to thank you for the work you've done on this site. It was an instrumental force in restoring me to the Lord's church after 20 years of being fallen away. I still use it almost daily in my personal study of the Bible. After almost two years of reading your answers (and resisting the constant, unlimited encouragement from my faithful siblings) my mind and heart were pricked with a guilt that just continued to grow each day. While on holiday travel, I chose to be restored.
It was hard to walk into services and step forward during the invitation. It felt almost impossible, and I wavered a moment and thought about the commitment it takes to be a Christian; I felt so alone and ashamed. My husband of many years doesn't believe any longer and my children have never accepted the gospel. The guilt of knowing how I failed them, my family, myself, and the Lord was very heavy. I felt so unworthy that I almost turned around to leave when one older woman looked back at me and smiled. Her smile was so full of love and joy to see me walk in that I almost cried. It had been many years since I've seen the love of Christ on someone's face like that, and I realized that I wasn't alone, I had only to walk a few more steps, repent and be restored to never feel alone again. When that same lady hugged me afterwards I thanked her for the smile. I'll always remember her face.
When I returned home I was searching for a faithful congregation to worship with, but it was difficult because I still felt a little nervous being the new person walking in by herself. Again it was the face of one young woman this time who turned around to smile at me. She waved her hand for me to join her, and it was so fantastic to see her smile and what joy she had that I couldn't help but feel comfortable near her. Again, to see the love of Christ on a face is like nothing I've ever experienced; it brings comfort right away.
I feel such zeal that I can't study enough of the Word and my feet can't carry me to services fast enough. I am hopeful, restored, faithful again. It takes effort, it takes strength but indeed the yoke is easy and the burden is light because it compares to none other with the joy it brings. I see things so differently, with new eyes, and I know what it's like to be the new person, the visitor that walks into services and sits down. It takes courage to come forward and for those that do take that step, then my hope is they see Christ on my face as I turn and smile at them. When I greet visitors and brothers and sisters in joy and love, I hope they see the Lord living in me.
I hope all congregations keep in mind that a smile, full of love one for another, can do wondrous things.
Yours in Christ,
What a wonderful reminder that even seemingly small things as smiling can serve the Lord in great ways! Welcome back to the fold, sister.