Eleven years ago, I started working at a factory. It was a bit of an eye-opener for this sheltered high school graduate. Many people would slack on the job, texting and making phone calls, outright dishonesty until they would see the boss man walking our way and then they'd quickly get back to work. Or if they weren't the type to only work when someone was watching, they were running their mouths even faster than the speed of their hands, usually gossiping about co-workers. I learned who was sleeping with who and I even saw a married woman kiss a man that wasn't her husband at shift change every single morning. I worked with her husband here and there and learned that he was actually open to that kind of lifestyle. I had date requests even when the guys knew that I was dating and then engaged. But I made friends there, people I grew to care deeply for.
And there was a lady that I especially loved to talk with. We just always hit it off. She could be completely honest with me and she shared a lot of what she was going through with me. But always with a hint of humor at herself. The humor was to cover up how completely broken she was. And with this lady, we often times talked about religion. She would admit that she believed in God but the thought of there being a Jesus, and a need for his gruesome death, and the reality that you can't get to Heaven on your own was not something she could believe easily. But still, we talked about it all the time. And I knew that she so desperately needed a Savior. She was one of the first people that I really remember witnessing to, more than just mentioning that 'yes, I'm a believer and you should be one too', but instead really trying to get her to see how we need Him, the repercussions of our sin, and the hope of eternal life. I think what was encouraging was that she asked questions, she seemed interested, and she respected my faith. I guess it only got easier because she was open. And I was hopeful that this searching she was doing (even though she didn't see it in herself that she was searching!) would amount to her giving her life to Jesus. I continued to work at this factory for 4 years. Same people, same conversations, but a constant spiral downhill for them, some faster than others. It seems like the people that resisted it at first would resist it more as time went on. But for this one particular lady, even though her struggles spiraled out of control, she was still open to talking about the gospel in the fewer and farther between times that we got to work together. I was so hopeful.
The day before I had our first baby was my last day at the job. And I have always regretted not having had as many deep conversations with all of the others that I came in contact with. If they weren't open to it, I let them off the hook!
I went years without seeing this conflicted woman that I had had so many conversations with. By the end of my four years at this job, we hardly ever worked in the same area. But I was told by others that she was out of control.
And then one day, at least 5 years later after I had quit and never returned, she called for a massage! I was so excited to catch up with her again and we picked up right where we left off. In fact, she had moved into our neighborhood! I asked her how she was and she sounded better. Her husband had stuck by her side all of these years but she was still struggling with depression. I asked her about her faith and she shared that she's been going to church. I'm pretty sure she was rolling her eyes when I asked and I think she was hoping for her 'church goer' label to pacify me. But I knew there hadn't been a commitment to Christ. Over the last couple of years now, she has come for a massage here and there and it's that same story: 'I go to church now'.
AND THEN! Last night she came for a massage and when she walked through the door it was obvious that something was different. She was excited to share with me that her 9 year old daughter had been baptized!! She was thrilled and she showed me the pictures. I was so excited! And then once she was lying on my table and the lights were dimmed, she said she had some other great news: she had accepted Jesus too!!!!! She was so excited and joyful! She had never been able to talk about Jesus without sarcasm but that was now replaced with JOY! She told me that she had decided to give up alcohol and the next night she had a dream. She was going into church but everything in her was against going. She sat alone and darkness surrounded her. She ignored it. She felt demons and the devil around her, still she refused to acknowledge it. Suddenly she was on the top of the church and satan was pulling at her leg. She looked up and saw Jesus coming down to her in a bright light. Uncomfortable, she looked away. But when she looked again, He was still coming! So she raised her hand and in that dream, she accepted Jesus into her heart! He provided a ladder for her to get down and she was saved. She woke up a new person!! Since then she has been at peace. She also prayed for the Holy Spirit to come into her and she released sobs as He filled her! I keep thinking about the song with the phrase, 'Love came down and rescued me, Love came down and set me free, now I am Yours, I am forever Yours.' This is her testimony!!
She has had an influential woman in her life that has helped her along the way and now she is anxious to start studying and learning how to pray. She said that she knows that Christ chose her even when she looked away from him in her dream. He still kept coming for her. She said that she thinks she had to have that dream or she never would have believed.
Isn't that beautiful?! I shared with her that I have continued to pray for her all of these years! And she is a changed woman!!
God is so good! It's a reminder to me that I was lost and I am lost when I'm not keeping my eyes on Jesus. And that while we turn from him, reject Him or even despise Him, He is still reaching out to us! No matter how wretched, unholy, mean, disobedient, _______ I am, He will never be out of reach. I was so blessed to hear my friend's story and to immediately recognize how it has changed her! We hugged as she left as sisters in Christ! And she brought it up that she's part of the family now! I can't wait to see how God will use her now! And how her story will bless others! Praise the Lord!!