He was sitting at the piano at the front of the church sanctuary when we arrived.
This was the young man our congregation had been praying for, asking our great, loving and powerful Savior to deliver him from the drug addiction that currently consumed him and was ruining his life.
While the others greeted each other and chatted before the evening service began, this young man sat alone by choice, his fingers drawing soft, melancholy notes from the piano keys. He was very thin. When he occasionally glanced up, I could see that his eyes were hollow, empty. It is not an exaggeration to say that sadness and hopelessness seemed to surround him. The Enemy’s calling card and handiwork were on full display.
As the service began, he was sitting in my line of vision. Restlessness overtook him. At any moment, it looked as if he would bolt right out of the sanctuary like he was on fire.
It’s called conviction.
When His blazing, pure light shines on our darkness, all we want to do is hide.
I prayed the entire service for this young man, that Jesus would open his eyes to see the truth…the beautiful and stunning truth that there is a Savior who is Hope and Peace and Joy and Light and Deliverance…One who is LIFE in all its fullness.
Jesus was calling out to this young man to come home.
He disappeared into the dark night shortly after that service and I didn’t see him again. Eventually, word reached us that he had been accepted into a year-long Christian treatment program and the prayers for his salvation and healing continued.
This past Sunday morning, this young man returned to our church.
I didn’t even recognize him.
Gone was the thin frame, the hollow eyes, the air of hopelessness. In place of the former emptiness was a man who was bursting with vitality, hope, peace, joy and LIFE! His eyes sparkled and his smile was as wide as Texas.
He made his way to the front of the church, clutching a prepared testimony. Despite obviously being uncomfortable in the spotlight, he was willing to testify about his redemption.
He shared how he encountered Jesus at this treatment facility. In his desperation and despair, he finally reached out to the One who is always willing to redeem, restore and renew.
Darkness gave way to Light. Shame was replaced with honor and dignity. Sadness had been traded in for supernatural joy that has nothing whatsoever to do with earthly circumstances. Hopelessness was eclipsed by blazing Hope. Self-loathing was no more, as he now knows that he is always and forever dearly beloved by his Creator. Bitterness had been replaced by forgiveness. Deep wounds had been healed by the Healer Himself. Emptiness was now filled-to-overflowing with purpose and passion. Death was forever conquered by the eternal LIFE that Jesus secured for him at the cross.
He closed his testimony by reading Zephaniah 3:17: “The Lord your God is with you, the Mighty Warrior who saves. He will take great delight in you; in His love He will no longer rebuke you, but will rejoice over you with singing.”
Nothing and no one is too broken for Jesus.
As Steven Curtis Chapman writes in his book Restoring Broken Things : ” Though all brokenness will be eliminated when Jesus returns, He is in the business of restoring broken things. And He is mightily at work today, accomplishing great things beyond our asking and imagining. Some of the very messes we concede as hopeless are the exact places God’s mercies prove to be matchless.” (p. 98).
As long as a person is still breathing, there is always hope.
If there is someone in your life who looks like a lost cause, don’t you dare believe that. Your Savior lives and nothing is impossible with Him. As long as there is breath in your body, you pray for that dear one. Praying an appropriate Scripture over that precious life is even better. Pray God’s powerful Word back to Him and believe with everything you’ve got that He will act in His perfect timing and with perfect wisdom.
Especially if that person is you.
As I was listening to the powerful testimony of this young man, a Don Francisco song began to run through my mind. It is called “Give Your Heart A Home” and it is written from the perspective of Jesus. I hope you can “hear” His heart for you in these words:
I hear your hollow laughter, your sighs of secret pain
Pretending and inventing just to hide your shame
Plastic smiles and faces, blinking back the tears
Empty friends and places all magnify your pain
If you’re tired and weary, weak and heavy-laden
I can understand how it feels to be alone
I will take your burden, if you let Me love you
Wrap My arms around you…give your heart a home.
It hurts to watch you struggle and try so hard to win
Trade your precious birthright for candy-coated sin
Wasting precious moments, restless and confused
Building up defenses for fear that you’ll be used
Take My yoke upon you and walk here by My side
Let Me heal your heartaches and dry the tears you’ve cried
Never will I leave you, never turn away
I’ll keep you through the darkness and lead you through the day
If you’re tired and weary, weak and heavy-laden,
I can understand how it feels to be alone
I will take your burden if you let Me love you
Wrap My arms around you, give your heart a home
Wrap My arms around you, give your heart a home.
Your true home is only found in the heart of Jesus.
If you are hurting today, run straight toward him as hard as you can. Immerse yourself in His love letter to you. Let Him speak words of LIFE into your tired soul. Know that even at this moment, He is singing over your precious life.
He is waiting for you with open arms.