October 13, 2017
Sometimes looking for forgiveness brings personal healing and an unexpected encounter with grace. That’s what happened with Carmen.
There were years of past pain that had been bottled up. There were scars from a broken relationship with her father. And as she sat routinely listening to Pandora one day last fall, Carmen could never have dreamed that God was about to rush in and give her a new joy.
The Pandora ad mentioned a company called Hope International, which caught Carmen’s attention. After some online research, she found herself attending a benefit breakfast to learn more about their work.
That’s where she met Cheryl, a Summit member on the board of one of Hope’s partner ministries, and that’s when their relationship began to take shape.
The two began meeting regularly for coffee. Their conversations would swing from careers to faith to life in general. It was clear to both of them that Carmen was looking for something. Yes, she needed healing from past pain. Yes, she needed wisdom with future career moves. But more than that, Cheryl could see that Carmen was seeking something eternal.
Eventually Carmen began attending the Brier Creek campus with Cheryl. She was drawn in by the welcoming atmosphere, uplifting worship, and deep preaching. It was much different than the church environment she had expected.
One cool Sunday in April, the Summit was doing baptisms. As the worship started, Carmen began to cry. She felt, for the first time in a long time, that these were tears of happiness—and she didn’t even know why. As she got to her feet to go toward the front of the church, she thought, “I’m going in front of all these people. What am I doing?” But she knew it was the right thing to do. The Holy Spirit was nudging her, and Cheryl was by her side.
Carmen began her relationship with her heavenly Father that day. She found forgiveness and love in ways she had looked for most of her life. A month later, she was baptized.
Since then God has begun restoration between Carmen and her earthly father. It’s not all perfect yet, and Carmen admits it may never be. But God has worked, and she is blown away by his faithfulness.
“It’s a shedding process,” she shared, “where you forgive yourself and the other person.”
Peace was found as Carmen listened to Cheryl’s life story of how God had faithfully led her. Forgiveness was found when she accepted and believed that her Savior had given her his righteousness. And a fresh start was found when Carmen accepted that no part of her story was a mistake and that God can make all things new in his time.
“Behold, I am doing a new thing; now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? I will make a way in the wilderness and rivers in the desert” (Isaiah 43:19 ESV).
By Tiffany Pollard