I wish I could say I never stopped believing that my friend would come back to Jesus. That he’d stop living in destruction. That he’d have the courage to change. But I can’t.
Years had passed. He was in and out of jail. He went to prison and back, and back to the same old things. Drinking and using meth. A lifestyle of addiction, and everything ugly that comes along with it. I stopped hoping because honestly, hope hurts sometimes.
So my heart slowed a little bit when I heard that old familiar voice on the phone, late at night. The tears he was choking back – telling me that he wasn’t ok. And that he was done. And that he wanted me to come for him.
So we went, my dad and I – driving for hours through an ice storm. By God’s mercy we plowed around wrecks and traffic jams and slid right up next to the place that had held our brother hostage for most of his life. A dirty, cold trailer with no running water. A place of misery and dope and stolen innocence. A home where darkness rules and shame runs deep in the veins of its victims. And against that backdrop of despair stood a figure of courage- a solitary emblem of hope. Wrapped up in an old brown jacket, he was waiting at the end of the driveway, decision made. Ready for change. Gripping a Walmart bag full of clothes and a pair of shoes. Willing to break the chains of bondage. Hungry for Jesus, and grateful for a ride to freedom.
On the road he opened up a dirty shoe box – hands shaking – to show us a picture he had saved. A snapshot of him doing a mission project at our home church. One of the best weeks of his life, helping people and serving his Savior. He’d kept it here, somehow safe, all this time. And a ragged, used up Bible. These pieces of hope – tucked away somewhere sacred so he’d never forget. They were tangible reminders that he is loved, that his life has purpose. And he was clinging to that truth now, with all his might. Coming down from a dope high. Leaving everything behind. Family. Friends. Poverty. To Jesus – to become the man he always knew he should be.
And after we’d delivered him safely to the door of a ministry home who welcomed him with open arms, this song came on in my car:
“Lost are saved, find their way, at the sound of Your great Name. All condemned feel no shame, at the sound of Your great Name.”
Of course they do. They find their way, because He doesn’t ever forsake them. Why do I give up hope?
And the words washed over my soul:
“Every fear has no place, at the sound of Your great Name. The enemy, he HAS to leave, at the sound of Your great Name. “
Yes he does. Satan has to leave. And tears rolled down my face, finally. And I sang it to the top of my lungs:
“Jesus – worthy is the Lamb that was slain for us, Son of God and man. You are high and lifted up, and all the world will praise your great Name!”
What a beautiful moment, to know that one brother dear to my heart will heal in the arms of his Father now. To be reminded that others will follow. That God’s love is stronger than their addictions, their lack, their shame. To be reminded that my doubts are ridiculous compared to His love. To be reminded that He is still in the business of rescuing His broken ones and bringing us back to His heart.