Her prayer was simple.
Thank you for my friends who have come to visit me today. I pray that you would help me stay strong. I know I make mistakes but you are there to help me through them. God, I ask that my daughters would follow my ways. Thank you for being in my life. I am blessed every day. Amen."
This prayer could have come from any one of us and yet this one was humbly voiced by Josephine - a recovering, resurrected, and redeemed drug addict. I had the joy of visiting with her on Monday for the first time in eight months.
I first met Josephine last year in Montgomery, Alabama when our church ministered in her housing project. We had been praying about reaching the mothers of the children that came for our Back Yard Bible Club and came up with offering first dibs on new, donated clothing we had brought along in exchange for sitting in on a few devotions. In preparation, I threw a blanket on the ground and my Bible wide open to the sky and begged the Lord to reveal Himself to those who would gather on that tiny piece of ground. I'm embarrassed to admit that I really expected a group who no more wanted to hear what I had to say than a person sitting through a condo presentation in order to get a free vacation. I could almost see their eyes rolling with the attitude of, "Lady, let's get this over with so we can get what we came for."
Josephine came along with three daughters, two of them teenage twins. I never anticipated what came next. Shame on me.
I asked the women if we knew why we were there. (By that I meant why our group was there in the housing project.) Josephine said, "I've always wondered why we are here...What did God even create us for?"
And with that one sentence God opened the door for one of the most wonderful times in the Word I have ever experienced in my life. My heart is leaking through my eyes even now as I remember. Josephine asked questions like, "Why don't we sacrifice animals anymore like they did in the olden days?" and "Why do terrible things happen to children?" I'll never forget, never forget, the absolute, overwhelming sense of privilege to have been given the gift of answering these questions. God's presence was so incredibly thick. There was no other explanation for the fact that I suddenly remembered scripture addresses that I never could have recalled outside the power of the Holy Spirit seeking to break through to these women.
Josephine prayed to receive Christ as Savior that Friday night. It was a Good Friday indeed.
Now, if you've ever had the opportunity to lead someone to the Lord you must admit when you walk away you wonder if that prayer 'took'. I believe Scripture teaches those who are truly saved will persevere in their faith though that certainly doesn't mean they will not blunder. A life of a person who is truly born again will be qualitatively different than the life they lived before. Josephine is now 10 months drug-free and can pray something now she couldn't before, "God, help my daughters to follow my ways."
We have no idea how difficult her road has been. Pat, the faithful pastor of Hope Church who picks Josephine up for every service, shared with us that the drug dealers regularly drive in front of Josephine's home beckoning her to come to the curb and take just one bite of their forbidden fruit. When I think of my own temptations, I consider myself blessed most are in the attitudes of my heart. I don't know how I would fare if Satan were so bodily manifested that I had to watch him cruise by in a tricked-out Cadillac on a daily basis. Josephine said, "I just tell them to get behind me! God has taken the taste for that stuff right out of my mouth!"
That, girlfriends, is shouting ground!
As I reflect on this Good Friday about our Savior's death I remember that Sunday is coming. As grateful as I remain for my own Sunday, I'm even more overwhelmed that God gave me the honor of sharing in another's Sunday as well. I love my friend and ask that you pray for her as I do that God will continue to do battle for her at that front curb, that His Glory would be her front and rear guard, and that her girls would indeed follow her good ways instead of dwelling on the woman their mother used to be.
Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come! ~ 2 Corinthians 5:17
(This photo is of the entire Girl Talk Group. Josephine is on the far right in the light gray shirt.)
Friday, March 21, 2008