6 months ago I sat in this booth. Panera. It’s not usually the spot I go to, but a homework assignment from my counselor sent me on a search for free wifi outside of my apartment and I ended up here. Let me tell you I had no intention of coming here. But somehow, my red Durango ended up in the parking lot and I got out. I, again unintentionally, sat in this booth. I didn’t even realize it was the one until just a few minutes ago. My Pandora station is playing in my ears and a hymn came on that expanded my soul to its ceiling. I was immediately transported to that night in March. It was the 8th or 9th, I think. I am going to be pointedly honest in this post. So, I apologize if this is how you are finding out about how poorly I was doing at the beginning of this year. My hope in this post is not to dwell on the past but to look at how good Christ is to save and redeem and pursue rebellious children like me.
The end of the rope had been reached. I knew I needed help. I just had no idea what it looked like and that scared the shit out of me. I had been abusing alcohol, cutting, and drugs for the first 3 months of the year. I didn’t care. I was severely depressed and angry and sad. All mixed into one. I sat in this booth with a dear friend across from me. She didn’t try to convince me to do this or not do that. She just repeatedly told me that she loved me and how she wished that I could see how the Lord loved and hurt, not only for, but also WITH me. His heart was breaking over what my heart was breaking over. He knew the tears I had been crying. He knew the fear I felt. He knew what I was running from. He even knew the “why”. Most of all. He didn’t hate me. He didn’t even dislike me. The whole time He was pleading for me to run to Him. He wasn’t angry. And He wasn’t going anywhere. He loved me. Fiercely. Passionately. Unwaveringly. Consistently. Perfectly.
He used my friend, we’ll just call her Tracey, to show His consistent love and care for my life. He used her to speak words of life into my hard heart. He wasn’t going to give up on me. He wasn’t going to leave me alone. In a loving way, but also in a “this is annoying” kind of way. The following Sunday I was invited to go to church with a friend. I mean, this was my church, why would I need to be invited? Well, because I thought the Lord didn’t really want me there. At least He didn’t want me there high, or cut up, or intoxicated. I felt like I had to clean myself up before I could even step into church, much less before the Lord would engage with me. Somehow I ended up sitting on the 3rd row from the back. I didn’t want to draw attention to myself by sitting on the back row. But, I also wasn’t brave enough to sit up front. So there I was. Sitting. Shaking. I don’t even remember what the sermon was about or what stuck out to me. I wish now that I had written it down. But at the same time, maybe that will make it extra sweet when the Lord gets to remind me of it. All I know is that I sat there for a long time after weeping. How could He still love me? How could He still pursue me? How could He still want me at all?! It is crazy scandalous love. The past 6 months He has been gracious. He has been good. He has been constant. But He has also been serious. I am currently in counseling. I am currently sober. I am currently falling more and more in love with Jesus today. Tonight. In this booth. He has reminded me of His great love for me. Through Jesus, by the Spirit. He has overwhelmed me tonight with His goodness and His consistency and His pursuit of a rebel like me. He is good and He does good.
Praise Christ. Alone.