A New Vision for Dating: Finding God's Plan for a New Relationship
by Stacy Hord
The Night That Changed Everything
It was 2:30 a.m. and I was driving home alone after a long night of partying. Only I was not in the party mood anymore. I was crying and I was miserable. Mascara and tears cascaded down my face as a fifty-pound weight of depression and shame descended on me. Things had to change. I was so sick of it all--the alcohol, the shallow men, the drama--the whole party lifestyle. I wish I could say my heart was hurting, but it was completely numb and void. It was my spirit that was hurting.
After my husband and I separated, almost a year before the divorce was finalized, I did what so many newly single people do. I partied, I had boyfriends, and I made unwise decisions. The party crowd was more than happy to accept me as one of their own and I had plenty of friends to help me celebrate my new status as a single woman.
When the divorce was final, I pursued my activities with even more intensity and vengeance. Oh, it was fun at first, but somewhere along the line, the fun subtly turned into a meaningless existence without purpose. I hadn’t noticed at first, but these lonely car rides home were becoming excruciating. There was no fruit in this kind of life and the emptiness seemed to hit hardest on the drive home. I felt like I was returning home from being nowhere--just a black vortex of shallow conversation, empty relationships, and nothingness. It was as if I had gotten all dressed up to go sit in a dark hole all night and then drove home. My mind was also becoming dark and I was constantly preoccupied with concerns about my love life, which was horribly painful.
Although I was a Christian who had attended church all my life, and had raised my kids in church, I had no recent contact with God. My prayers had dwindled down to occasional pleas for Him not to send me to hell because of the way I was living. I just did not feel like praying anymore. Moreover, I could not shake a sense of guilt and hopelessness that drove me further away from a God that I considered too holy to get close to a sinner like me. The distance took its toll on me, and I had become empty, and dry, without emotion. Plus, I was hiding from God. If I didn’t pray, I didn’t have to account for my behavior.
But that night I was heartsick, torn, depressed, and without hope. I had hit bottom, and bottom was a long way down in a deep, dark pit. There was only one Person who could reach deep enough into that pit to raise me out and I knew He was the only Person who still loved a blubbering, mascara smeared, messed up girl like me. I had turned away from Him long enough. It was time to turn toward Him.
I just needed to say His name. I could not say or even form a whole prayer; I was too dry and raw. But I knew that there was so much power in just saying His name, it would be enough. He would know why I was saying it and He would respond in the same way as if Mother Teresa had said it. I knew in my heart He would hear. Something told me I had a heavenly audience.
I opened my mouth and I softly whispered, “Jesus.” I said it again--”Jesus”--all while I was driving on the highway in my car. I started to say it louder, over, and over, “Jesus,” all the way home. That is all I said that night, and that is all He needed.
A few days later, I went to church. It was still a challenge for me to be in a place that piqued my conviction to the point I almost couldn’t stand it, but I staggered through it. After the service, I walked out to my car to wait for my sons to get out of their teen service. As I sat in my car, I saw the mother of one of the church teens walking across the parking lot, heading directly for me. “Oh, puh-leese!” I thought. “I don’t feel like talking to anyone right now.
I’m sure she’s coming to tell me how much she has missed me lately and her words to me will no doubt be filled with churchy fluff and syrupy, sweet talk. I grudgingly rolled down the window and put on my best fake smile. “Hi, how are you?” I warily chirped.
She stood outside my car, said a few pleasantries, and then softly asked, “Are you okay?”
“I think I am, thanks for asking.” I was still hiding out emotionally from everyone.
Undeterred, she continued. She had a mission and needed to tell me something. She began, “The other night, I woke up in the middle of the night, around two or three in the morning, and you were on my mind. I just started praying for you. I didn’t know what was going on; I just knew I needed to pray. Is everything okay with you?”
I teared up slightly and responded in low tones as my sons approached the car, “I appreciate your prayers. Please keep praying.” That’s all I said to her and then she left. As my sons and I headed home, I began to make the connection. A few nights earlier, on that lonely drive home from partying, I had felt the need to cry out to God. All I’d said was the name “Jesus.” I could not form a complete prayer, so He called on someone else to finish that prayer for me. And, as it turned out, she wasn’t the only one He had been calling on to pray for me. My best friend of fifteen years had been crying out to God on my behalf and so had several others. The ice was melting in my heart. I was feeling hope again. God really cared. He cared enough to wake someone up in the middle of the night to pray for me. More importantly, I began to realize something even more shocking. He wasn’t mad at me, He was feeling compassion for me.
I don’t know what happens in Heaven when we say the name “Jesus.” Maybe big red lights flash and a huge bell rings so that all of Heaven can hear the “Jesus Hotline” sounding. Maybe the sound of millions of people around the Earth saying “Jesus” forms a beautiful melody and a sweet fragrance that drifts up to the throne and the Father inhales it like sweet incense. Maybe every time the name of Jesus is sounded in Heaven, everyone there drops down to their knees immediately because the power of His name forces them to worship and glorify Him. I don’t know.
But I do know that when we call on His name, something powerful happens; something that we cannot see, but that indisputably happens. He hears it.
He turns His head to the one who is calling out and sees all the way down into their soul. He doesn’t waste a second! Before His name is barely off our lips, He acts. He begins appointing angels, sending ministering spirits, and calling faithful prayer warriors to pray on our behalf. Then He does one more thing. He takes His hand and begins to reach down, down, into a long, dark, slimy pit, for that one who sits at the bottom calling out for Him--you and me.
His fingers finally touch you and He wraps them tenderly around your whole being. Then He slowly begins to lift, taking care that you’re eased up gently as He raises you all the way to the top. He then plants your feet on solid ground and guards you like a hawk because you are His beloved and He is jealous for you.
This is the first and most crucial step in your healing from all your past mistakes: calling out to Jesus and allowing Him to put you in a new place while He watches over you. We can go no further into a new vision for your future until you have a firm understanding that your very life depends on Him. You must know that you can call on Him in any situation and He will come to your aid, no questions asked.
No pit is too deep or too gross for Him and no sins are too scandalous or perverted for Him. His arm is long enough and His hand is strong enough to reach all of us no matter where we are.
Even more remarkable, He does not require that we clean up our act first. He meets us where we are. No conditions need to be met and no vows need to be made. He already fulfilled all those requirements when He took them upon himself and paid them in full on the Cross, so that leaves us with nothing but to receive His love. He is the faithful father waiting for the return of the prodigal son. He is the good shepherd that leaves the ninety-nine to go find the one that left the flock, and He is the kind-hearted Savior who saved an adulterous woman from being stoned to death, and then sent her away with His gift of no condemnation. His grace is a mystery--and it is beautiful.
This is where I started and this is where we all have to start. So, just say His name today. If you want to follow it up with prayer, that’s okay. If you just want to say His name only, that’s okay, too. Just say it, “Jesus.” He will do the rest.
I waited patiently for the Lord; He turned to me and heard my cry. He lifted me out of the slimy pit, out of the mud and mire; He set my feet on a rock, and gave me a firm place to stand. He put a new song in my mouth, a hymn of praise to our God. Many will see and fear and put their trust in the LORD. (Psalm 40:1-3, niv)