We’re laying on the beach eating cherries when she tells me her heart for God has all but gone cold. She never opens her Bible anymore, rarely enjoys church, hardly feels a responsiveness in her soul to things of Jesus.
Memories flash through my mind of Sarah*, the eleven year old friend who prayed with me mid-sleepover, the fourteen year old church-lover who dragged me to retreats, the college student who demanded I dump the jerk and seek God’s best for my life. I eat another cherry and smile because I know it: God has her heart. Our friendship has been through this before, only then I was the prodigal telling Sarah my wanderings while her eyes smiled grace and invited me home. From experience, I know the reason she’s telling me her calloused state: she misses her Savior. She longs for Him to woo her home. He will.
* * *
We met in fifth grade on the school bus, days after she moved to my neighborhood. I was an introverted Alabama girl mesmerized by Sarah’s tales of New York skyscrapers and snowy winters, and her unapologetic silliness. Twenty years later, she hasn’t changed a bit.
Sarah came to visit for the weekend, effortlessly chic and single with tales of business travels and entertaining clients. My two daughters eyed her every move, soaking up a trendiness their toddler-toting mama rarely emits. Sarah perched on the edge of the bed to take off her wedges while I changed Owen’s diaper, and we laughed at how different our worlds had become.
As teenagers, we had guessed reverse adult lives for ourselves. I would be the independent jet setter; she would be the devoted wife and mother. But kids can’t predict the future. And so last weekend, it was my three kids we kissed goodbye. We spent the night at a beach side hotel, giggling late at the sound of honky-tonk karaoke floating into our room from the tiki bar below.
* * *
Sarah has it all. A master’s degree and an exciting career. Beauty and personality. A growing savings account. A sweet apartment in the trendy part of town. Plenty of friends, an adoring family. Nothing tying her down.
But Jesus once rescued her heart and she’s authentic enough to admit it: something is now wrong. Her affection for God has grown cold. We walk on the oceans’ edge and she tells me she hardly wants Him — the God who created all of this. To me, her simple admission proves that she still loves Him — still wants Him.
So why should I be surprised when, that same day, Sarah begins to hatch a plan? A plan to offer her soul back into the hands of God.
“Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…”
We split a burger over lunch and she outlines her idea: She’ll quit her exciting job, sell some of her most valuable items, and spend a year in overseas missions. She knows it’s urgent: she needs to detox from all that distracts her heart from Jesus.
I’m amazed. She’ll be giving up so much. Then again, “what do you benefit if you gain the whole world but lose your own soul?” (Mark 8:36). Missionary Jim Elliot once said it, “He is no fool who gives up what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.” Sarah is no fool. She knows what is at stake. She is fighting for her life — because make no mistake, Jesus is the only Life. And while her heart still hears His voice, she will answer.
Some may call her plan extreme. Perhaps even dangerous.
But what could be more dangerous than a soul turned from God?
Sarah is coming home. It’s like I can see her Father running towards her, arms wide open.
*Names and identifying details changed.
Please pray for my friend’s exciting big decision and transition! (Posted with permission.)