My week began in the usual way. I was walking through the auditorium at West Huntsville getting ready to go sit right behind the most amazing youth group I’ve ever seen or known. As I walked around the back pew I noticed a couple of visitors. Headed their way to say “hi”, recognition registered and I knew this was Lisa. I have not seen her in ten years. She got up from that pew and came and put her arms around me (in a big bear hug) and said “I am back. I wish I had never left.” Well, that is all I needed to hear, to know that this minute would be the best one of my year so far and, quite possibly, the entire year to come. I said, “Do you want me to walk down this aisle with you and let this church know you’re turning this page?”
Lisa said, “Well no. I’ll do that later.” But when we began singing after the lesson, I felt someone poke me from the side aisle and Lisa said “Let’s go.” She humbly and succinctly spoke truth:
I should have never left.
I made a bad decision because I listened to the wrong people.
This is where I need to be.
But Lisa is truly successful. True success is “living your life and going to heaven.” Oh, she knows there are very hard things that result from ten years away. But she also knows that the only way to dilute the negative results of walking without the Lord is to penitently, powerfully, and publicly say “I’m going to walk with Him from this day forward.” And she can walk with Him on streets of gold one day. That’s success.
Lisa is a Christian. If you knew the back-story of her life and how we met, she would amaze you as she has me. She’s extraordinary. But God knows all our back-stories. He knows every temptation to which I’ve succumbed and every lesson I’ve learned the hard way (and there are many). He’s been with me on the mountain-top and in my deepest valley. He knows when I am very weary and swallowed by sorrow. He knows me and He still says “Come unto me all ye who labor and are heavy laden. Take my yoke upon you and learn of me, for I am meek and lowly in heart and you will find rest for your souls.”
Rest for the soul is what Lisa (and Cindy Colley) is needing. It could not have been a better Sunday morning. Because of that other Sunday morning beside a tomb outside Jerusalem, there’s everything Lisa needs to have the real expectation of heaven. I want to live my life so that I will know and love Lisa always. There are others who have left Him for whom I am praying daily. It’s no shame to profoundly mess up in our lives. We all have. The shame only comes when we choose to continue in prideful living without Him. I’m so thankful for the empty tomb and the real treasures in my life that came from that tomb.
Sometimes in the dark times I can’t find my way.
Someone I thought honest just chose to betray.
Pain is raw every morning
From those who are scorning.
And obstacles obscure my way.
I know I can find things that still give me hope,
But others are weighty at the end of my rope.
The devil throws darts
That still wound my heart’s
Deepest places. I struggle to cope.
I’ve messed up profoundly. I can’t win days back.
Times that I’ve squandered or courage I lacked.
But my course is secure now–
Steady and sure now.
I can’t let the world’s din distract.
I’m done with facades of quick fixes and pleasures.
With searching through cheap things that glitter, for treasures.
I’ve charted a course
With Sustainer and Source
Of joy that is real–past all measure.
Take all of the things I pretended were real.
Give me Jesus and let me be quiet then until
There is heaven and peace;
From life’s turmoil, release.
Let me know You and let me be still.