Thursday, June 4, 2009

beauty after the storm

This is the devotion that was sent to me today from Proverbs 31 ministries. If you have a chance, I think you will be glad you read it :)

My first personal "storm" occurred when I was 14 years old. It was filled with heartache, death, mystery, fear and freedom. It's a storm that took me years to piece together.

And many more years to realize the beauty born from it.

School was out for the summer. I had just finished the 8th grade and could hardly wait to go to the beach with my family. I can remember the harried havoc as if it was yesterday - snack food, suitcases, and beach necessities were strewn all throughout our kitchen. We were excitedly packing that evening, getting ready for the next morning's early departure for Ocean City, New Jersey.

My memory also perfectly recalls the knock on the door that evening which would define the next 12 years of my life.

It was my friends' dad who lived down the street. "Did you see Evie today? Do you know where she might be?" he asked with hope. "She never came home tonight."

I had not seen her that day. Nor would I ever again.

A neighbor of mine had asked my girlfriend Evie to clean his house. As it turns out, he had other plans in mind for her that day.

Shortly after she arrived at his home, he forced her into his car, restrained her hands, gagged her and drove to a densely wooded area several miles away. Over an undisclosed period of time he performed unspeakable acts and then he left her for dead.

It took the authorities more than 6 months to find her body and solve what had come to be a nation-wide mystery.

During the many months they searched for her, and worked to piece it all together, I became consumed with fear. I promised myself that I would never be at home alone again. And for the most part, I stuck to that vow for many years.

Eventually I found freedom from this fear. It was a gradual process that came to fruition as I grew in my faith. Christ intervened, and I gradually let go. I am no longer consumed by the details of her death or the remnants of my fear.

Several years ago the Lord quietly revealed a most special memory of Evie that I had long forgotten. We were having a sleepover one evening. As we were lying in my bed laughing, talking, and dreaming as girlfriends do, she very nonchalantly asked me if I wanted to be sure to get into Heaven. Of course I wanted to be sure. I knew that Heaven was a wonderful place. I waited in eager anticipation for her next words.

"Ask Jesus into your heart," she pronounced. "That's it? Just ask Him into my heart?" I quipped. "Well yes. There's more, but that's the start…" she said.

And that precious little Evie prayed with me right there in the wee hours of the night, helping me to ask Jesus into my heart.

One young God-honoring friend.

One unutterable death.

At least one life saved…

…this was the beauty that He faithfully revealed to me years after my storm.

"So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal." 2 Corinthians 4:18 (NIV)

Dear Lord, thank You for the life You have given me. I praise You for the ways You have spoken to me through Your Word, through prayer, and through other people. Thank You for healing me and delivering me from my fear. Help me to focus on You today and not become distracted by anything that is not of You. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

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