Journey of the Heart
There has to be something more; some purpose to this life. Andrea pondered the thought as she stared up at the stars outside her bedroom window, her eyes losing focus. Her soul felt hollow—a bottomless pit of confusion, loneliness, and fear. A tear slipped past her lashes, forming a river of pain down her cheek.
What have I really accomplished in these sixteen years of my life? she wondered, wracking her brain for an answer. Something. Anything. But she was left empty-handed. She couldn’t come up with a single thing she’d done that reallymattered. The realization struck her like an ice-cold splash of water. If I died today, would anyone care? Is there even one person who would cry at my funeral?Perhaps her step-father, but she wasn’t even sure of that.
Ever since her mom had died she had shut herself off from the world. It was the only way she knew how to deal with the pain, and she kept telling herself she just needed time to heal. And her step-dad? He dealt with it by shipping her—a constant reminder of his deceased wife—off to boarding school.
Andrea pressed her lips together, leaning her head back against the wall as tears streamed down her cheeks. She desperately needed something to hold on to. She longed to know that someone in this universe cared whether she lived or died. With every heartbeat, another second of her life ticked away, yet she wasn’t really living. Her heart was as cold as stone, so how could it hurt so much? She felt so lost. So alone.
Drawing her legs up and hugging them to her chest, she rocked back and forth, shuddering sobs convulsing her body. Her mother’s face flashed through her mind. Her eyes were always so kind, and full of joy. Joy. Where did it come from? Andrea remembered asking her when she was eight years old, just after her mother had discovered she had miscarried the precious baby brother Andrea already loved more than she ever thought possible. Even then, Grace had found joy in the midst of the tragedy.
“Will you show me how to be happy like you?” the small girl had asked as she laid her hand sadly on the round tummy where her baby brother had lived the first, and last moments of his life. Smiling through her tears, Grace had wrapped her daughter in her arms.
“I can’t give you my joy, sweetheart. I wish I could, but only Jesus can do that, if you ask Him to. This isn’t easy for me either, but He gives me peace even through the pain.”
“Well, He comforts me through His word.” She reached for the worn, black book. “It’s His letter to me and you. Then, when I pray, I feel Him right beside me, telling me it will be okay, because He lives in my heart and fills it with His love.” Andrea reached out a hand to touch the book.
“If I read it, will He comfort me, too?”
“If you ask Him to come into your life, and live inside of you, yes, He will.”
“How do I ask Him?”
“You talk to Him, just like you’re talking to me, now. You ask Him to forgive the wrong things you’ve done, and you believe in your heart He is God, and that He sent His son to die for your sins and rose again, defeating death.” Andrea considered her words, unsure what to think. “Here. You take this Bible. Read it, and obey what it says, and you will never regret it. It tells you about the source of my joy.”
The source of my joy…The book! Andrea leaped up from her seat and rummaged beneath a pile of books, pulling out the Bible. Dusting it off, she breathed in the hint of her mother’s lavender perfume, still lingering in the pages.
A highlighted passage caught her eye as it fell open to Matthew 11.
“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.” Andrea stared at the page, turning the words over and over in her head.Come to Me. You will find rest for your souls. The words spoke directly to her heart.
“God…if you’re out there, I’m willing to follow You, but You’ve got to show me how.” With trembling fingers, she trailed her hand across the pages, taking a deep breath before peeking to see where they had turned.
Another highlighted verse jumped out at her.
“Do not let your heart be troubled; believe in God, believe also in Me,” she read aloud. And again: “Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful.” Fascinated, Andrea forgot everything else as she continued reading John 14, all the way to chapter 21. The story of this man, Jesus, unfolded before her—His life, His love, His crucifixion, and finally, His resurrection. Her mind told her it was impossible, yet her heart cried for more.
Flipping a few more pages, she came to Romans 10.
“Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God for them is for their salvation.” Salvation. What was it about that word that stirred such hope in her heart? Could this be the answer? She had to know. She continued reading, the words washing over her like a breath of fresh air.
Suddenly, her heart skipped a beat. “…if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved…For the scripture says, “whoever believes in Him will not be disappointed.” Tears sprang to her eyes, and streamed down her cheeks as she whispered the words, again and again. Confess with your mouth…believe in your heart…whoever believes will not be disappointed.
Andrea saw the raw and broken pieces of her life spread before her eyes. Every lie, every corrupt thought, every wrong action. Stealing, lying, hateful, self-centered, prideful…the torrent of memories continued. She wanted out. She needed an escape from the cycle of sin that had always controlled her, dragging her down, down, like a black hole, sucking her deeper until she lost all sight of the light. She would not be subject to this tyranny any longer. Gripping the Bible to her heart, she fell on her knees.
“God, I know You’re there. I feel that You’re so close, yet just out of reach. I know I’ve pushed You away for so long, but…I’m ready now. I want to know You. I need a new life. I’m sick and tired of my sin, and I need You to forgive me, please.” her voice was husky with emotion. “I need joy, like Mom had, I need You to breathe life into this dead soul. I believe in You with all my heart, I believe in Your son, Jesus, that You raised Him from the dead, and that He is Lord. I want You to be Lord of my life. I need You to come live in my heart, like Mom said, and fill me with Your love. Please, please, don’t pass me by. I can’t live another second without knowing You.” She broke off, sobbing uncontrollably.
Then, in that moment, it was as if a heavy weight lifted from her shoulders. The chains imprisoning her snapped, and her heart began to beat again. A peace like none she had ever known, wrapped her in a gentle embrace, and joy so deep she could scarcely believe it, welled up in her heart until she was sure she would burst. She wanted to shout, sing, and dance. She felt it—the unfathomable love of the Father. He was real, He was near. He had revived her spirit, and she knew Him at last.
“Welcome to My family,” a still, quiet voice whispered to heart. Tears of joy flowed down her cheeks as she stared up at the stars, and she knew, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that He would never let her go.
Story by: Sunny Bodenhamer
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