It was my Sunday to serve in the nursery, and nothing in me wanted to go to church that day, but I showed up and experienced amazing grace.
It was a difficult time for me. It was the mid-1980s, and my marriage had spiraled out of control. My world was headed into a dark pit. I just wanted to hit bottom and hide there, trapped in despair.
I debated calling in sick. I hurt too much, I reasoned. I didn’t want to be around anyone, not even the precious babies or toddlers. I’d convinced myself to stay home; after all, God understood how I felt. But then I remembered that I’d made this service commitment to God — not to my pastor or the babies — and I didn’t want to disappoint God. I was compelled to go in spite of how I felt.
It was a typical morning in the nursery. I cared for the little babies and busy toddlers, and worked to keep them comfortable and happy. Long after we’d finished receiving children, an usher entered the room carrying a sleepy toddler. Her mother wasn’t with her, leaving me with no information, no diaper bag, not even her name.
I laid her in a crib, where she fell asleep. Later she awoke and huddled in the corner of the crib, as though trying to avoid being noticed. She shied away when I reached for her. Something wasn’t right, but she wasn’t crying, so I went ahead and picked her up. Then I realized what had happened.
The little girl had had an accident, and it was major. She didn’t want anyone to know what had happened, so she’d helplessly sat there in a mess. She was deeply embarrassed, and I gently held her close and comforted her. I assured her that everything would be okay. Even though she was so young, she was humiliated and hurt. I took care of her discreetly, assuring her with my actions that she was safe.
I spent the rest of the morning with the little girl. She cradled herself peacefully in my arms, and there was no doubt that she knew all was well. We bonded in a very special way. When her mother came I explained what had happened, and she thanked me profusely. I never learned the little girl’s name, and I never saw her again in our church.
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That was a life-changing experience. As I drove home that day, God spoke to my heart. God told me that he would care for me as I had cared for the little girl. God touched my wounded heart, took the mess of my life, cleaned it up, and held me close to him. As I had cradled the girl peacefully in my arms, God wanted to cradle me in his.
I could hardly wipe away the tears fast enough to see the road. And for each tear I shed, I felt Jesus reach into the hidden corners of my heart and wipe away the pain in my life. Only the power and grace of God can perform such life-changing surgery. By the time I reached home, I was transformed. I walked into the same home with the same problems, but I was not the same person.
I’ll never forget the precious little angel God used in such a profound way to touch me. I went to church that dark Sunday morning and didn’t hear a sermon, sing a song, or even say a prayer — but I returned home with the light of Jesus illuminating my heart. cm
Janet Shah is the nursery and toddler coordinator at a church in Roswell, Georgia.