There's nothing greater than discovering how hard God works to get your attention. A story of a real testimony.
Honestly, I didn't want to go out tonight. I met some friends for a dinner event; we ate, bonded, I extenuated myself in ignoring all forms of social anxiety in a room full of excited people, worked on being pleasant, socialising and sharing. I had done enough. However, for a brief moment when we finished, I caught a buzz.
I love the buzz at the end of an event: always my favourite. Suddenly, if you haven't met everyone, you find yourself sharing thrilling introductions with the whole room, or if you already know them all, you catch up a little more and seem to take in everything that is uttered out loud as the greatest thing ever. And of course, laughter is contagious the whole time. It's like a full moment of consistent joy. But what's the secret to it? Why does it always feel so great in those last few moments?
Because it has a time limit. We all know we have maybe fifteen more minutes before we need to evacuate the building, split into our various modes of transport and head home. Hence why we suddenly get this motivation to do all we can and socialise. Hard.
So riding on this buzz, I boasted to everyone about how much energy I had and how I didn't want to go home, so much so that I finally found one friend to join me for a soft drink at the end of the night. Only problem was, the minute -- and I literally mean the very minute -- I walked out of the building, it's like all my adrenaline melted out of my body and I hit the lull. The I'm ready for my PJ's lull.
But in the end, I'm glad I persevered.
We wandered around Madrid, and in the end, the night consisted of two very different, but equally important hours. The first was the 'let's recap our friendship' hour: the catch-up chat, maybe some slight awkwardness, and the odd silence where we looked off at strangers or pretended to be enjoying the live music. But then, inevitably, came my favourite part: the buzz. Only this time, it lasted for much longer than fifteen minutes.
This was the second hour. And in fact, this hour ended up having another extra twenty minutes of walking slowly around Puerta del Sol, wandering from one Metro stop to another (may I point out that there are four stairways to the metro station in Sol, each about one minute away from the other), all because the conversation wasn't finished.
This buzz wasn't just influenced by the adrenaline of having time ticking faster and faster to those oncoming goodbyes. This was a whole other story. It had fire, heart, soul, emotion, and most importantly, God's Holy Spirit in it.
The identity of this friend will remain anonymous because I don't want to risk his trust. Besides, it's his story that matters.
He shared with me a deep dark secret that hung down on his heart and made him feel like a sinner. That he was a sinner and nothing more. Sin is so heavy to swallow that it can halt us from our true and genuine selves. Yes, there's living in that type of sin, and then there's holding on to that type of sin. This case was the latter.
In summary, there was something he was ashamed of in his past, but along the way, God caught His attention and he escaped it before it was too late. But the way his attention was caught was physical. Such a beautiful, intricate way that it made me fall in love with Christ even more:
He was with a friend and they were walking back towards this person's house. It was another regular evening, only something in him had started to shift in the last couple of days. He hadn't been home in a while, as he merely submitted to the imprisoning role in the life he'd chosen now. But lately, something was holding him back from going about his life as usual. And on this particular evening, as he walked toward his friend's house, he felt something.
A sudden, strong sting, a shooting pain on his upper back startled him. He immediately jumped and gripped his right shoulder in pain. "Ow!" he shouted. "I think something bit me." He ran his hand all over his back, under his backpack and shirt, only to find nothing. The sting lingered however, as strong as a wasp's prick. Ignoring it, he continued on.
Minutes later, something bit him again just a few inches lower. It was even harder. The skin felt hot and throbbing. At that moment, he was stung for the third time just under his rib. Frustrated by the torment, he threw his backpack to the ground and even removed his shirt. But nothing. There was nothing there. His friend checked him. They looked at his back in detail, the shirt and even his bag, but he was fine. There was no wasp, bug, not even a mark. But his skin felt so sore as if three needles had dug deep into it.
He closed his eyes in the silence of the night and took a breath while his mind raced through all the health possibilities he could think of, his heart racing. He lowered his face into his palms and took a moment.
You need to go home, a voice told him.
His eyes darted open. His heart rate increased suddenly and his whole previous week flashed before him: the guilt, the condemnation, the constant wonderings of whether God could forgive him, whether he could start again. But he was sure it was over, God wouldn't want him back now. After choosing, willingly and knowingly, to live in sin for so long; after all the disappointment, the ignorance to what he'd always known to be right. He'd trapped himself in now, there was no way anyone would want to come down and get him from here. God wouldn't want him still... would He?
Instantly, he knew what to do. This was the final warning.
Grabbing the backpack off the floor, he threw it back on along with his shirt, and hurried off without any further explanation to his friend, or even to himself.
That night, he walked home determined and ready for the reconciliation and forgiveness. As soon as he reached the privacy of his own house, he knelt down in tears. His heavenly father awaited him with open arms and listened intently at his guilt, his shame and the very fear that kept him from humbling himself and admitting that he needed God. Once it was all surrendered into the hands of God, a breath of relief swept over him and he slept in more peace than he'd experienced in years.
To this day, my friend is free of condemnation, shame and his past sins. He lives in love, and in complete assurance that God spoke to him that day. That He saved him and brought him into a brand new place of peace and a new identity. He also realised that if he hadn't left that day, things would've become much more complicated, and his relationship with God that much harder to enter into. God's timing was impeccable.
"The peace I felt at the end of that night was immeasurable to anything I'd felt before. It's like I could finally breathe again," he says.
God will do anything and everything that it takes to get you back to Him. Open your eyes, and see what He may be trying to tell you.
What He told me tonight is that He loves His children so dearly, and none of them, NOT ONE, is indispensable to Him. He comes over to the locked, broken, shattered and dried doors of our hearts, and He brings all the equipment with Him: patience, love, authority, forgiveness, power, relatability. But remember, all these tools won't open every door at once. Each one takes its own individual work to build, and each door its own lock. There's no bulk entrance for Him when He asks to come into our lives. Yes, He asks with the same gentleness and love for us all, but each time, He can only come in with that one individual, personalised key for that one person.
And He's got yours ready to go.
"I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in."