At first, at the hands of others but eventually, and mostly, by my own hand.
My darkness, was swallowed.
It was drank.
I lay down with it and willingly ran to it.
And, each time the Light of God would come, I would hide. But, no matter how hard I ran - toward the dark - the Light always found me. This story is about one such time.
As I swallowed drink number four, or was it five? - something told me to slow-down. You've only just met these guys. This could get dangerous. Partying was my thing and at only 19 caution and self-preservation had long since left the scene. That night, I meant to get swallowed by my darkness. I drank more than I could tolerate and agreed to a "night on the town" with my newly acquired companions. Arriving at our first destination the drinks continued to flow and I consumed with abandon - hell bent on ending it here.
You see, my abortion had sent me spiraling. And after my then boyfriend transferred out of the country - it ALL fell apart. So that night, all I wanted was to be numb. Free from my pain. And so I drank -
As the night drew on things began to get a little fuzzy. For some of the evening I can only remember bits and pieces. I remember refusing to leave with those newly acquired companions.
I remember stumbling around.
I remember being groped.
I remember falling down - barely conscious.
But the next moments are forever etched in my memory: As the club drew closer to "last call" there came an new offer. New companions would give me a ride. Either for further partying or home... I think I know where I live, don't I? Still, something kept nagging at me - Why are you doing this? This is NOT good! But when you ask the darkness to consume you - it eagerly obliges... But then there, in the corner-
Is that a familiar face?!
I've never seen you here before!
Oh, first time? For you and your wife!
How am I? (Currently unable to stand or remember where I live) But these nice guys were about to take me home, I think....
Oh, you're going right by my house?
AND you remember where I live?! (Have you ever been to my house?)
Well, ok - if you so adamantly insist.
By the way, where did those guys go?
How coincidental that you both just happened to see me right before I left!
And, wait a minute, how many times have we met? Once? Twice?
Wow! What a coincidence....
I remember most of that night from 17 years ago like it was yesterday. The couple that met me, that day, miraculously recognized me. I had met the man once or at the most twice but it had been months since. I honestly don't know what made them step-in. I cannot even remember their names and am almost certain we never spoke, again! But, I believe the Lord has spared this memory as a reminder to me of one of the many times He saved my life. Looking at my life now, it's hard to believe that young woman was me. As "hopeless" and as bleak as things seemed, I could not have known that less than a year later I would be on a plane headed for Indiana. Ready to surrender to my Lord.
Many that saw me at that time - prior to my rescue - dismissed me.
"Too far gone!", they'd say.
"Unhealthy and self-destructive."
And yet, I am here today because of a mother who took me in when I had nothing and a father who obeyed the command to act from his (our) God. Because the Lord moved in the hearts of virtual strangers to be in the right place, at the right time, and to do the right thing. But please hear me when I say this: We must have clear boundaries. Don't put yourself in a dangerous situation unless you know it is the thing that needs to be done. Loving someone, where I was, will look different depending on the severity of the addiction. Prayer is often the only and most loving thing you can do for someone. Other times it is simply listening when the person is willing to talk. And, sometimes, it means risking taking a chance on someone. Because, you never know, they just might be ready to step into the light, God's Light, and live.
I am filled with gratitude for those that never gave-up on me. For those that prayed and, when the time was right, acted. As followers of Christ we are called to love the unlovable. Not enable or try to save them - on our own. But to truly love them. We must remember to ask God before we move. Many times what we think is best - is not. We must pray for wisdom and discernment. But we must not give-up.
I won't give-up.
I can't give-up.
For so many the night appears bleakest - on the verge of consuming them - when it's actually pre-dawn and the Light is about to shine. How are they to know, unless we help them see. And how are we to help them unless we see them as worth saving. And, worth loving.
For we are not fighting against flesh-and-blood enemies, but against evil rulers and authorities of the unseen world, against mighty powers in this dark world, and against evil spirits in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on every piece of God’s armor so you will be able to resist the enemy in the time of evil. Then after the battle you will still be standing firm. Stand your ground, putting on the belt of truth and the body armor of God’s righteousness. For shoes, put on the peace that comes from the Good News so that you will be fully prepared. In addition to all of these, hold up the shield of faith to stop the fiery arrows of the devil. Put on salvation as your helmet, and take the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion. Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers for all believers everywhere. Ephesians 6:12-18 NLT
Lord, I pray against the darkness. Help us to see Your Light - just on the horizon - and obey the call to show others Your hope.
Loving and praying for you all, today.