“Stories of how God has changed lives aren’t intended to glorify sin; they are meant to glorify God’s grace.”– Liz Curtis Higgs, Bad Girls of the Bible
So this is where we begin today with Her Story. It’s a powerful story of one redeemed soul living daily under God’s grace.
Born into a loving, Christian home, she was raised to believe the truth of the Bible. At the young age of six, she dedicated her life to Jesus Christ through obedience in baptism. Despite her faith in God, she didn’t fully grasp what it meant or rather what it looked like to be a Christian. As she puts it, “I loved God, but I didn’t really know how to live for Him.” So, she perfected the double life. She was a good Christian girl at church and for the most part at home to please her parents, but when she was away from those influences, she began to flirt with the deceiving pleasures of sin. It all started very innocently in her mind. She just hung out with the bad kids, but she wasn’t actually doing the things they were doing. This is how she justified her behavior. She could be with them, even be a part of their group, but still be good, right? As the years went on, she found it increasingly difficult to be in the world but not of it. It just got too hard to avoid the temptations. Everyone was drinking, all of her friends were having sex, and most were doing drugs. She began to question why she kept holding out. What was she waiting for? Who was she trying to please? What did she really believe anymore? She was tired of straddling the fence. She was done trying to be both girls. So, she stopped trying. She gave in. She walked away from God.
It was around this time that her dad got a new job, and as a result her family packed up and moved hours away…right before her senior year of high school. She was established in her old school. She knew everyone. Now, she had to start over. It seemed much easier to make friends by trying to fit in and be just like everyone else. If the kids at her new school were doing drugs, so would she. That was the best way she knew how to make friends anyway. The pressures increased as she went through her final year of high school. By this point, God was barely a fleeting thought in her mind. Her parents felt so bad for uprooting her that they no longer pressured her to attend church with them, and that was the only out she needed. She no longer felt any need for God in her life. If you asked her then, she’d probably tell you she was still a Christian, but God didn’t play a role in her life at all. She had removed all godly influence from her life and was perfectly content with that. Prayer and Bible reading were things of her past, and her present was all about the next high. The pursuit of sin became a bigger part of her life. As high school was nearing an end, she didn’t want to be the last virgin standing, so she gave her purity away too. She figured since college was right around the corner and she would be having sex then, why not now? She lived for the moment, and she pushed down the guilt she felt, knowing that this was not the life God had intended for her.
College picked up right where high school left off. She found people like her and did what they did. Drugs, alcohol, and sex mixed with a college track career all became a part of her reality. When she was nineteen, she met a boy, and she fell for him fast. She thought she loved him, so she gave herself to him in every way. It was summer love. It felt like romance, and it felt good…for the moment, but it came to a screeching halt the moment she found out that she was eight weeks pregnant. Young, unmarried, school still ahead of her, and a promising future in track. It all seemed to come crashing down on her in a moment. She was so far from God by this time that keeping the baby wasn’t even an option to her. She had to get rid of it. Now, you need to understand that she was that girl just a few years before who took a public stand against abortion and valued waiting until marriage to have sex. But so much had changed. She didn’t even know that girl anymore. No one did. She had blocked out everything that she had ever learned about God. She had to in order to live this life. She had fully submitted herself to the world and found it almost easy to make the decision to abort her child. No one tried to talk her out of it. Once it was over, she had a sense of relief in a way. She had gotten away with it. The problem was gone. In her refusal to deal with what she had done, she immersed herself further into a life of drugs. Times between highs were short lived. Life became darker, but she did everything she could to pretend that she was fine, that everything was OK. She threw herself into track workouts. As the weeks went on, however, things still didn’t seem right. She was gaining weight, and she became the slowest runner on her team. All the while, she continued in her drug addiction trying to numb the pain inside. About twelve weeks after her abortion, she found out she was still pregnant. Everything suddenly became very clear. She knew she had done wrong. God had wanted her to keep that baby. And as if she had never walked away from God, she felt His presence in her life again for the first time in years. But she was terrified. Panic set in. How could this be? Did they make a mistake? I thought I took care of this? Fear plagued her as she called the abortion clinic with her concerns. They told her to come in immediately. Through examination, the doctor explained to her that she had conceived twins, but they had only successfully removed one. They tried to usher her fears away with “Don’t worry, we’ll take care of this.” She wanted to keep the baby but rationalized those thoughts away as she replayed in her mind her wild living the past several weeks. Would the baby even be normal, healthy? Due to the fact of how far along she was, there was only one doctor that was willing to perform the abortion, but they promised to take care of everything and even cover the cost. She would need to return right after Christmas.
Somehow, she managed to make it through Christmas with her family, hiding everything that was going on inside of her. She was overcome with grief at the decision she was about to make, again. As her family went to bed, she proceeded to smoke as much weed as she could to calm her racing thoughts and her aching heart, but the pain would not go away. She had never felt more alone, and as she lay on the bathroom floor with tears streaming down her face, she cried out to God for the first time since she was a child. Through her weeping, she told God how sorry she was for what she was about to do, and she pleaded with Him to wrap His arms around her. She needed Him more than she ever had. She was desperate in her pain. And God met her in her darkest hour. Despite her life of sin that led to this point, in that moment she felt God wrap her in His loving arms and quiet her heart. God knew what she was about to do the very next day, but He loved her still and held her through the night.
The recovery from the second abortion was long and hard. The ache inside was still so strong that drugs seemed to be the only sedative. It was one night in the middle of another high that she found herself telling a hurting friend about God’s love. The memory of God holding her on the bathroom floor flooded into her mind, and she realized that His love had changed her. His love had saved her that night. She left her life of drugs, and picked up a Bible for the first time in years. She began to read verses she had underlined when she was just a child. At the same time, she was employed for an elderly couple that loved her and constantly poured the love of Jesus into her life. God was tugging at her heart, and she was beginning to respond. The more she read His Word, the more convicted she was about living out her faith. She could no longer just say she believed in God. Her life needed to reflect that belief. She needed to remove the weeds from her life in order to grow. She knew what her weeds were. She had no godly influences in her life, only friends who brought her down. As she pursued God, her old life satisfied her less and less. Letting her old habits and lifestyle die was a process, but she was falling deeper in love with Jesus. That was all she needed.
Even though she was living a new life committed to Christ, shame and guilt from her past decisions haunted her. Through new friendships at her church, she was invited to join a recovery Bible study for women to walk her through the healing process from her abortions. For the longest time, she felt bound by the fact that she would never be able to forgive herself. Her healing came through this truth: she didn’t have to, God already had. It wasn’t about her or what she had done; it was about what God had done for her on the cross. He bled and died for her and covered her shame with His blood. She was forgiven, and that truth set her free. She was finally able to embrace God’s forgiveness, and for the first time she was free to live in His grace. The healing process was the most painful thing she ever went through because she had to uncover the wounds she had worked so hard to bury. Coming to know God’s love for her though was worth every painful step. As difficult as it is for her to re-live her past, she has committed to the Lord to share her story every opportunity she can if it will help someone else find the healing she now knows. It is a daily choice for her to reject the lies of Satan, to refuse his influence over her thoughts and emotions, and to embrace God’s truth, but she will never turn back. She is now a new creation; the old has gone. She never thought God could use her after all that she had done to sabotage her life, but each new day she is overwhelmed by His mercy and His grace. She is actively involved in student ministry and is using her story to impact the lives of teenagers through a program called Vantage. She loves God with all her heart. She has been redeemed and called by name. She is a recipient of God’s grace. Her story is beautiful because Jesus signed His name over it in His blood. She is clean, white as snow. I am honored to call her friend. Her name is Rachel. May her story impact your life as it has mine.