Monday, June 20, 2011

Finding My Way Home - Eve's Story Part 5

For five weeks now, we've been following the story of "Eve" a woman who has kept the secret of an abortion buried for many years.  Here is Part 5 of her story.  Her identity will be revealed this weekend at Firm Foundation Ministries.   

Who is Eve?  Here are more details!

I sat chewing the blue cap of my pen.  I was in the back corner of a classroom trying to listen to my professor speaking about Children’s literature.  Still, I can’t help my daydreaming.  My eyes shift towards the window where I see people walking to their next class.  Were any of them at the Campus Crusade meeting I had been to?   I wonder what it would be like to have such peace like the people I saw there.  What would it feel like to be released from this heavy weight I feel in the core of my being?  To feel so free I could raise my hands and sing praises to the Lord like Joanna did last night.

To me it’s obvious the kids at Campus Crusades have never done anything to make them feel so bad…so…so dirty.  It would be wonderful to only have something minor - a small sin of some sort on my resume.  Why couldn’t I have been a “good girl?”  Why did I think it was ok to give myself away to Jim?  Why didn’t I value myself…respect myself enough to wait? 

I don’t know much about the Bible, but I’m sure in there somewhere it talks about sinners going to Hell.  I wonder if I even brought my Bible to State with me!  It’s likely under my bed back home.  I have to get my hands on one somehow!  Scary as it is, I have to know what the Bible says about girls like me.  I have to know if there’s any hope, 'cause much as I know I deserve it, I sure don’t want to go to Hell.

Suddenly I realize I’m the only one left sitting as my classmates pile out the door.  Grabbing my backpack I swiftly walk down the steps and out the door of the old brick building.  Mentally flipping through my options, I wonder if I could sneak a peek at Joanna’s Bible then just as quickly shook my head no!  If she caught me she’d ask too many questions when I tell her what I’m looking for - and I’m not about to answer them. 

Then it hits me….go to the bookstore!  Deciding to skip lunch, I walk swiftly across campus, hoping against hope that I’ll find my answer. 

My heart starts to beat a little faster and my stomach feels uneasy as I walk down the self-help aisle.   “Self-help”…that seems funny, I tell myself.  I bet there’s not a single book on these shelves that can help me!  Tipping my head to the right I begin scanning a myriad of titles – “Letting Go When It Hurts,”  “Healing After Adultery”, “What To Do When He Cheats”.  My heart sinks a bit when I realize there’s nothing for me.  Where are the books titled, “How To Heal After Killing Your Child” or “Finding Peace After Abortion”?

I feel defeated for a moment, and then I see it…The Holy Bible!  Right in middle of the shelf, there they are – white ones, red ones, brown…pink… black…. Bibles for men… Bibles for women - so many options!   I slowly reach for the black one – seems more appropriate for me.

“Can I help you?” a tall, skinny girl appears out of nowhere next to me.

I freeze watching her glance first at me, then the Bible in my hand.  Why did I feel like a kid caught with my hand in the cookie jar?  “Um, no… no thanks,” my face is burning and I want to get out of there, “I…I’m good.”  She smiles kindly, likely confused at my odd behavior then walks away.

Glancing up and down the aisle, assuring myself I was once again alone, I gently open the book with a shaky hand.  How long has it been since I read my Bible at home, three years?  Maybe four?  I used to enjoy reading the teen Bible I was given for catechism.  I had even memorized a few verses and I remembered enjoying Proverbs and Psalms too!  But now as I stand here holding this Holy book, I feel so ashamed. 

Does Jesus know that I’m sorry about what I did?  Does Jesus know that I need Him?  Ha, I’m sure He doesn’t want me anymore.  A tear falls on the page and I quickly shut it and wipe my face dry.  Feeling like I’m going to start bawling I shove the Bible back on the shelf, grab my backpack and make a beeline for the door.  Glancing up I see a sign – one that takes me back to that moment in the clinic.  Familiar red letters glare down at me as if to warn me.  “That’s right,” I tell myself, “time to make an EMERGENCY EXIT.  But, oh, if only!” The ever-present blanket of regret wraps itself tightly around me, “If only I had walked out the escape door on that horrid day at the clinic. “But you didn’t, Eve, you didn’t!”

The next several weeks crawl slowly by until, at last, finals week has begun.  It’s so difficult to cram for five major exams when all I can think about is everything I have heard at Campus Crusades over the last three weeks.  After I had attended that initial meeting, I found myself wanting to go back - mostly out of curiosity.  Perhaps, I was clinging to a hope that I too can be “reborn”.  At least that’s what the girl in the meeting last week called it.  I’m still convinced it’s impossible for someone like me, but it’s a nice thought.  It helps ease the pain of the knife in my heart – at least for a moment. 
I feel a pang of sadness as I throw some clothes and shoes in a box.  Packing up our cozy dorm room to head home for the summer break is not as exciting as I had anticipated it would be.  It feels so safe here with Joanna.  Back home I’ll have to hide the truth again. 

Taping the final box of books shut, I sit on the floor with my head on my knees.  Joanna was still in class, and I was alone.  The words that a pretty girl named Samantha spoke at the last Crusades meeting were branded in my mind.  Tears flowed down her face as she told how she had been made new through Christ, “I’ve been reborn!” The excitement was evident in her voice.  “Jesus has forgiven me from my past!”  She had paused for a moment to collect her thoughts, then went on, “The blood of Jesus is sufficient to cover any and every sin I have ever committed.  If you don’t believe me, check out 1 John 1:7 or Psalm 130.” 

I found 1 John in the index at the front of the Bible I had found on a table by the door and thumbed towards the back of the Book. “But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, His Son, purifies us from all sin.”  Samantha was still speaking and I couldn’t remember the other verses she had mentioned. “You see, I didn’t save myself for my husband!  For so long I lived a life of promiscuity.  I was really looking for love and acceptance.  I was longing for a way to fill the empty void in my life, but I never found true peace and love until I met Jesus!” 

Even now, twenty-four hours later, her final words keep playing in my mind… “There is no sin too great for God to forgive… there is no sin too great for God to forgive…”    I jump off the bed, grabbed my wallet and find myself nearly jogging back towards the bookstore.   I must see for myself it that is true.  How can it be?  No sin too great for God to forgive?

With shaky fingers I put down the cash and faintly smile at the same girl from several weeks ago.  She smiles back and touches my hand as she softly says, “My personal favorite is in Psalms.  Chapter one-hundred-thirty.”  Surprised I look up, wasn’t that the verses Samantha had mentioned last night?  I whisper a shy “thank you” and take the book she had carefully wrapped in tissue paper.
“Psalms one-thirty… Psalms one-thirty… Psalms one-thirty,” I repeat her words over and over for fear I would forget them again.   Reaching the commons area, I look around and walk quickly to an empty table in the back corner.  My heart starts pounding wildly as I unwrap the Bible, careful not to bend its leather cover or crease the thin pages.  “Psalms, Psalms...found it!  Ok, chapter one hundred thirty,” my finger scrolls down the narrow column, searching, “Here it is!” I duck my head closer to the words as I drink them in.

If you, LORD, kept a record of sins,
Lord, who could stand?
But with you there is forgiveness,
For with the LORD is unfailing love
and with Him is full redemption.

My eyes fill with tears.  I know this has to be true.  It’s right here in God’s word.  But how can He forgive me?  I turn back to 1 John 1:7 again, reading the refreshing words over and over.  It feels like an ice cold drink of water after a long run.  I can’t get enough.  My eyes drop further down the page to verse nine.

If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just
and will forgive us our sins and purify us
from all unrighteousness.

How my heart races as I read on and on.  A laugh from somewhere deep inside escapes me as tears drip on the pages.   I read it once more before gathering my bag and hurriedly making my way out the back doors.  Stepping outside I feel the warm sunshine on my face.  There’s no one nearby and I feel a spring in my step as I look up to the sky with a smile. 


Saying goodbye to Joanna and all the friends I made over freshman year is not easy.  “It’ll only be a few months and we’ll all be back together.” Joanna says with a smile.  “Let’s share an apartment next year,” she suggests as I wave goodbye and pull out of the parking lot.  My little red car is loaded down with all my gear.  Excitement fills me as I pull on to the highway and set the cruise for the four hour drive towards home.
My mind begins to tire two hours later so I shut the radio off and roll down the windows.  Switching lanes, I notice the new Bible peeking out of my tote bag on the seat next to me. 
Suddenly the GOD HATES YOU sign from the clinic flashes before my eyes.  “Will it ever stop,” I yell out.  My temperature begins rising I shout towards the sky, “God can’t forgive what I have done.  I’m no good.  I’m no good to You, Lord!” 
I want so badly to believe that I can be cleansed from my sin and the guilt to be washed away, but those visions of the sign torment me constantly.  I can’t see how I can have value to God after what I’ve done!
The steady stream of oncoming lights from the opposite lane buzzing by me brings me to a dark low I hadn’t felt since I wanted to run myself to death.  “What if… what if I just slowly cross over to the other lane in front of the next semi?”  My breathing is shallow and my fingertips feel cold and clammy.  “Come on, Eve, just a few feet to the left and all this pain would end.”  The visions of that terrible day in the clinic would be gone.  The fiery sign so boldly burned into my memory would disappear.  I could stop having to keep up the act and putting on my mask – the one that told the world I was a happy-go-lucky college student.  I deserve to be punished.  My eyes blur with tears as I peer at the speedometer… seventy-two!  Screaming now, I cry out, “What can I do?  I’m so sorry!  I'm just so sorry!”   
A blaring horn from a close call jolts me back into the urgency to slow down and gain control before I cause a major accident.  Easing my foot off the accelerator I grab for the Bible on the seat next to me.  Holding it up to my chest I pull off at a quiet gas station.  Only twenty miles to go and I’ll be home, but I just can’t go on anymore.  I’m just too burdened with guilt and shame.   Pounding my head on the steering wheel I shove a fist in my mouth to stifle the sobs I can no longer control.  Several minutes pass by before I sit back and catch my breath.  Slowly, I feel something new deep inside.  Something I haven’t felt in years…..I want to pray!
“Father…..Oh Father…I’m so sorry for what I’ve done.  I have not been able to accept your mercy and forgiveness, but I want to so badly.  Help me Lord.”
When I open my eyes, I sit numb and exhausted from the ride of emotions I had just been on.  It felt good to pray.  Maybe actually talking to God will help me, since I can’t talk to anyone else.  Lifting my hand to start the car again, the Bible on my lap falls open to John chapter eight.  I sit entranced, astounded by the story of a woman caught in adultery.  The people had brought her to Jesus – wanting to have her stoned.  Somehow I feel like I can relate to her!  I should be stoned too!  But I stop, stunned when I read Jesus’ response to her, “I do not condemn you, Go on your way and from now on sin no more.  I am the Light of the world.  He who follows Me will not be walking in the dark, but will have the Light which is Life.

Light!  Life!  No more darkness!  A genuine smile and mended heart I clung to the words I had just read as I make the final miles home.  Over and over I lift my voice to sing a song I had learned as a child, “Jesus loves me, yes, Jesus loves me.”  The truth is beginning to take root in my heart for the first time in my life.  He wanted me!  He loved me!  He was willing to forgive me!  All I had to do was ask!
Pulling into my parent’s driveway, my attention is fixed on the flag slowly rippling in the breeze on daddy’s flagpole.  It strikes me odd how I picture the pole as a cross and the flag as Jesus.  I put the car in park and sit there just staring.  The still small voice speaks softly to my soul and a comforting warmth envelops me like never before, “Come to me.  Eve, won’t you come to me?”  With a joyful heart I burst from the car leaving the door wide open and run, falling to my knees at the foot of flagpole. 
Sobbing I cry out, “Father, I come to You broken.  I am hungry for You and want to know You.  Please Lord, come into my heart and make me new… and clean.  I admit I am a sinner and I want to stop trying to hide from You.  I believe Jesus died on the cross for my sins and it’s truly a gift that I don’t deserve.  My sins have separated me from You.  Father, I’m so sorry.  I want to turn away from the darkness of my past and live for You.  I believe Jesus is alive and that You hears my prayers.  Thank You for that, oh Father.  Please send Your Holy Spirit to help me obey and to do Your will for the rest of my life.  In Jesus name I pray…Amen.”
Rolling over onto my back in the soft green grass, I open my eyes and stare up at the starry sky for a moment.  Peace floods my weary soul and I let out joyful shout…”HALLELUJAH”!   I relish the feeling – something I’d longed for so many years, yet never thought would be mine to cherish.

Finally I rise. It’s time to go inside. I hesitate at the door of my mom and daddy’s house and turn to look back at the flag pole – back where I’d found my redemption.  The moonlight casts a sheen of light across the yard.  It is quiet.  Calm.  A weight had been lifted from my shoulders.  For so long I had felt imprisoned by my sin.  At times I was sure I could hear the clank of the chains with each step I took, every move I made and every single beat of my heart, but now, I felt light!  I felt free! 

I blink and rub my eyes, unsure if what I'm seeing is reality or simply my imagination.  Either way, I knew what I saw was a gift for me from my Jesus.  No longer could I feel the weight I had carried, no longer did I hear the clanking of each heavy rusty link, for there in the matted grass where I had given my life to Jesus was a big, rusty heap of chains.

1 comment:

Mary said...

Beautiful! God is so, so good.