God is always at work in ways that we can’t even begin to imagine. I hadn’t planned what I got to experience this morning, but I’m so grateful that the Lord led Jill my way. I came through the office on my way somewhere when Ryan introduced me to her. Jill had been brought to BCC by a friend. We went into my office and I began to listen. Jill’s story was dark, heartbreaking, and so sad. Her face reflected her heart…broken and sunken to the depths of despair. She sat across from me with cuts on her arm. Something she had been doing since she was 14…She told me it’s her way of dealing with the pain. So young and yet so old. Worn out by the world. Sad beyond description. Lonely in a world of 7 billion people.
The VBS kids were in the sanctuary singing their hearts out. I said to Jill, “Come with me.” We went in and stood facing the kids who were all standing on their feet, singing at the top of their lungs…with hand motions to match their words. (Sweetest thing you’ve ever seen!) I leaned over and said to Jill, “That was you just a few years ago. Laughing, singing, full of joy. What happened?” Expressionless, Jill said, “A long time ago.” We went to the back of the sanctuary and sat down. I opened the Bible and asked Jill to read for me. She read, “The thief comes to steal, kill, and destroy, but I have come that they might have life and have it in abundance.” It was Jesus speaking to people like Jill and me…and you. I said, “Jill, do you see what the Enemy has been doing to you?” She said, “He’s stolen my joy and he’s destroying my life.” I said, “You’re right, but Jesus has come to fill your emptiness with His life.” I showed Jill some other Scriptures and we talked. All the while the kids were louder than a New Direction concert, but their volume was created by little hearts praising Jesus. I pointed out some of the kids and Jill smiled…it was happening. The Lord was softening her heart and using the kids to refresh her soul.
We went back in my office and talked some more. I said, “You know Jill, you’ve been living your life exactly as you have pleased, but it hasn’t worked out so good. Why don’t you allow Jesus to take over?” She nodded, agreeing with me. I asked, “Are you a follower of Jesus?” Jill said, “Well, I went to church some when I was young, but that’s about it.” I said, “I’m not talking about going to church. I’m talking about asking Jesus to come and live in your heart–to be your Lord and Savior.” She said, “I never have.” I asked, “Would you like to do that right now? We don’t have to wait until Sunday.” She looked me right in the eyes and said, “Yes.” I went over and sat by her, held her hand, and led her in the simplest, yet most profound prayer we could pray confessing that we’ve made a mess of our lives, that we need Jesus, and asking Him to come and make our hearts His home.
We all stood to our feet; Jill, me, and Jill’s friend who felt in her heart this morning that she had to go and find Jill. We hugged each other, wiped tears, and praised God for rescuing us from death and destruction. I praise God for Jill’s friend! What a tender heart she has! To literally stop what she was doing so that she might go and find her friend. I praise God for our children who have no idea how the Lord used them this morning to kindle memories of laughter and joy in the heart of someone who just a few hours earlier was thinking about ending it all. I praise God for Jesus, our Rescuer, who was “pierced for our transgressions” so that Jill might never have to cut again, for opening Jill’s eyes to the life before her, and being her hope. Let the cynics and critics continue to mock the Gospel if they choose, but I’ve never found another who can do what Jesus can do in the lives of broken people. What a mighty Savior!