by Julia Charleston
With a single flick of the lighter, the pages of her bible were ablaze. Her hands shook with rage as she exacted revenge on a God who would allow so much disappointment and loss. She had turned to drugs to cope; to mask the sadness she felt deep inside, and after her son died from a fatal overdose of drugs SHE herself had brought into her home, fury and grief consumed her. Burning this bible seemed like poetic justice.
She sneered as flames engulfed the holy book. Finally, she would show God how she truly felt about Him. He would know how disappointed she was about her lot in life. He would see her anger towards Him for allowing all of her family to die, especially her only son, leaving her completely alone to suffer through this life of pain.
The fire consumed the outer edges of the pages, and then quickly went out. Smoke and ashes filled the air as though someone had extinguished the flames. She looked over her shoulder to see if anyone was there, though she knew this was a private, secret act she would share with no one. She lit the pages again, and this time the book exploded in a blaze of red and orange, traveled all around the edges and danced along the white space between the text. For a moment she thought satisfaction would be hers. The flames went out again. Smoke filled her nostrils as she stared in complete shock. Anger turned into fear as she tried to grasp what had just happened. The words, God’s Holy Words, would not burn.
God showed up and met her in that moment. He joined her while she was at the height of her anger and fear. He understood her pain. He heard her cries. God showed up in her deepest, darkest pit, to demonstrate to her she was not alone.
As she bravely stood in front of us sharing her incredible story, her voice was shaky and she began to cry. The shame, remorse and regret of her actions overwhelmed her. She had never shared this part of her past with anyone. “She is a woman of courage,” I thought. “She is willing to stand up and tell her story even when her voice shakes. She is running toward what makes her fearful.”
She continued her talk, and her countenance changed. She began to stand taller and speak with more confidence as she shared how her life is now so different. Her shoulders began to push back and relax; her head slowly raised to allow her eyes to look at us directly. She was becoming a new creation right in front of us.
Nine months ago she understood the help she needed was not only with her addiction, but also with her soul. She came to The Foundry with the intention of seeking God with all her heart, mind, soul and spirit. She found Him, and He found her. And He healed her. She finally realized God had been with her all along – that she was the one who left Him.
The very Word she once tried to destroy has now given her new life, hope and freedom. It has become the love letter to her that God intended for it to be.
“In those days when you pray, I will listen. If you look for me wholeheartedly, you will find me. I will be found by you,” says the Lord. “I will end your captivity and restore your fortunes. I will gather you out of the nations where I sent you and will bring you home again to your own land.” Jeremiah 29:12-14 [NLT]