Hannah's Redemption Story
Love... at a Cost
“You... are... precious... in God’s eyes!”
I fidgeted slightly, wishing the folding chair beneath me wasn’t so hard.
“God made you! And He loves you!” The youth pastor spoke slowly, enunciating each word as though speaking slower would more easily convince the roomful of teenagers of the truth within his words.
I liked what he was saying.
And I liked that about God.
Yet, before I even allowed the pleasure of knowing that there was an Almighty God who loved me settle into my spirit, I reminded myself of the fact, that not only was He almighty - He was also all-knowing.
I dropped my head in sorrow... in shame. Sitting next to me, my boyfriend fidgeted with a hole in his jeans and I wondered if Jack felt the same burden of sin in his own heart. I sighed and turned away.
I could see the moon rising beyond the row of trees through the window. Night was falling and it’s inky black matched the darkness I felt deep inside. It had been a night not unlike this several months ago when Jack had first looked my way. His smile sent shivers through my core, turning my long, gangly legs into pillars of not-quite-set gelatin. I warmed in his presence, giggling at his silly attempts to impress me.
Jack had been so sweet to me. He laughed at my jokes and shyly complimented me on my smile. He arrived at youth group early and always saved me a seat next to his own. I would watch dreamily as he read his Bible and took part in discussing our Sunday School lesson.
Later, in the privacy of my bedroom, I would smile at the memory. I hugged my knees to my chest, unable to push back the waves of joy that refused me sleep. How blessed was I? Could it be that God in His compassion over me - a lonely, broken girl, that He had led me to the man of my dreams already? I was barely a teenager, and yet, I knew... I knew. Jack and I would be married one day. I knew it in my spirit.
Hugging my pillow to myself, I lay staring into the darkness. It wasn’t until I heard the mantle clock in the living room announce the coming day with two resounding gongs that I drifted slowly off to sleep.
“Let’s turn over to 1 Corinthians.” Pastor Mike’s voice startled me out of my reverie and I sat up straighter. Grabbing my Bible, I began flipping towards the back of the book, hoping no one had been able to read my thoughts from a moment before.
“1Corinthians 3.” Pastor Mike paused for a moment. “You know, most of you here have probably read John 3:16 many times already. Perhaps you’ve even memorized it. But here in 1 Corinthians, you’ll find another 3:16 reference that will save you a lifetime of heartache - as long as you apply it to your life.”
I flipped to chapter three and slid my finger down to verse sixteen.
Pastor Mike began reading, “Don't you know that you yourselves are God's temple and that God's Spirit lives in you?”
Please don’t let him say what I think he’s going to say! My heart began racing and the palms of my hands felt hot and cold at the same time.
“We’ve talked about purity before, haven’t we? This verse of Scripture is here to remind us that as Christians, we have Christ living within us!” I nodded along with the other kids in the room, while hoping no one could hear the throbbing that filled my senses, or the ringing in my ears. Pastor Mike leaned forward in his chair, “So, if Christ lives within us, then we need to ask ourselves ‘what kind of dwelling place does God deserve?’ If we fill our lives with impure thoughts and actions, then we are destroying the temple that God gave us. The temple that He designed for us to use to bring glory and honor to Him.”
Jack sat stone-still beside me, and I wondered if he even cared about what 1 Corinthians 3:16 was telling me.
I wondered if his throat was filled with the same burning pain that filled mine. Or if he was sorry for what we had done. Or if he had any regrets. Or if he... I starred at my hands... or if he even cared.
Falling in love had been so easy. The wounds on my heart, left by the memory of red tail lights disappearing in the night, had been soothed by Jack’s adoration. I had promised myself to remain pure, but compromise followed compromise until I had convinced myself that this was right and good.
Jack... Jack was here.
And, he wanted... he wanted me!
He loved me! Me! The girl who so desperately longed to be loved.
Jack and I would be together forever - I was sure of it. So why, why shouldn’t I let him see how much I truly loved him? The little girl in the garden reminded me of the terrible price I would pay if I didn’t measure up. She cried out to me in that moment of decision, and I... I believed her. I had to prove my love! I needed to do all I could to keep Jack from walking away.
And so, on a cold night in the fall when I was just fourteen, I gave Jack everything.
Note: Through the following weeks, we will walk through "Hannah's" journey as she continues to search for acceptance and meaning in her life and her story will conclude on June 10th at Firm Foundation Ministries - my home church. Hannah will be coming to reveal her true identity as well as testify to the grace of God in her life.
I invite you to come, as I know you will be able to appreciate the life that Hannah now lives. She is an amazing person who inspires me daily! Hannah's story conclusion will be posted here as well.
Please feel free to share this link with others. As I've listened to Hannah tell me her story... as I write these words, I am struck over and over again at the importance of father/daughter relationships. I began this series, praying it would encourage young women - teenage women... that it would help them find their value in Christ alone. But the more I listen, the more I write, the more I realize the lesson in here for fathers as well.
If you haven't already, be sure to subscribe to Walking on Water (top right corner), and plan to join us each Monday as Hannah's story continues to unfold.