Coming out of the darkness of my hell into the arms of God
| The blinding flash disappears, and the echoing rumble follows three seconds later.
Sitting on the cold floor with my head bent, I try to shut out the sharp pitter-patter of the fierce April storm assaulting the windows next to me. Glancing up, I see my reflection in the glass--an image distorted by the pelting rain and water streaks.
It is dark in the basement; lightning and the small lamp resting on the mantle are the only sources of light.
In the corner, practically invisible, I look up at the faint silhouettes around me, some walking, some kneeling, some sitting. Singing each note harmoniously together, this small group of Christian youths raise their hands towards the ceiling, reaching for an unseen presence. It is perhaps one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen, yet I remain silent.
I didn’t understand. What are they doing? It is obvious that they are singing, but why with such passion and emotion?
Feeling completely out of place, I gaze once more at the cold concrete, my shaking hands feeling along a large crack. A sudden flash brilliantly illuminates my surroundings, the thunder claps unmercifully overhead, yet the singing continues. Why?…
Letting my eyes wander around the room, I see a figure moving toward me. As he nears, I recognize him--Alex. Yes, I met him earlier. He seemed like a decent enough guy.
He motions for me to come over to a couple of small chairs a few feet off. Hesitating, I clumsily make my way over and sit down.
Sitting down next to me, he leans in close and begins whispering. I lower my head nervously, answering his questions as straightforward as possible, yet that becomes harder and harder.
By now, the singing has died out, and I can hear the faint whispers of people around me. A voice occasionally rises above the rest, singing out.
Eventually I start telling him things--things I’ve kept inside for too long. Feeling his hand on my shoulder doesn’t help; my body trembles uncontrollably.
Fighting the constant tremors rolling through me, I listen to what he’s saying, trying to make sense of it. My head spinning, everything a blur, thoughts race through my head.
Another flash occurs in the blink of an eye, another memory etches itself into my mind with the loud crack emanating mere seconds afterward.
Every bad memory, everything that had made me so miserable over the past year, came pouring down on me now with each heavy raindrop that crashed into the window next to me. The stress, the heartbreak, the pressure, the attempt to be something I’m not--I was sick of all of it. Angry tears welled up in my eyes just thinking about it.
No longer wanting to be miserable, I prayed with Alex and made my vow with God that night, that stormy April Tuesday night. And afterwards, it was as if the clouds parted instantaneously. It was that simple. Letting God into my heart gave me the most indescribable feeling. Before that night, I had claimed to be a Christian, but that’s all it ever was--a claim. I would say one thing, and do another. I was a hypocrite.
And to think that this was the night I had been dreading. For so long, I had avoided the invitations to come here, I had avoided the thought of facing my fears. I knew I needed it, but I just didn’t want to accept it. To me, this “cell group,” this group of teenagers and young adults who met at a house to share their Christian spirit just didn’t appeal to me. I had better things to do.
I had thought that by filling my life with other outlets, I would be happy. By filling my life with activities to consume my time, I would keep my mind constantly in motion, and therefore be able to keep myself together. I liked the stress. The stress kept me going…
Until I added too many balls to my juggling act and it all came crashing down. Constant mood swings developed, I lost a lot of my friends, and pretty soon things looked about as bad as the storm outside.
And then the invitation. Again. But this time, instead of running away, I accepted. And I will never forget it.
There are times in everyone’s lives that are extraordinary. Times people look back on and smile, frown, laugh, and so on.
Though high school may not have been the best time of my life, I know that when I walk out that door for the last time, I will have had my moment. I will have had my extraordinary time that will stay with me forever, a time I will look back on with a big smile.
* * * * * * * * *
As I slowly stand up, I can hear the faint dripping of leftover water splashing onto the windowpane. Walking through the bodies kneeling on the floor, I make my way to the basement entrance. I grasp the doorknob with weary fingers, trying to take in everything I had just experienced.
“Hey man, I hope you come back next week.”
Looking around, I see that those words have come from the friend who had invited me countless times over. After having that heavy burden lifted off me that evening, the immense feeling of absolution and newfound hope could have answered him for me.
“Definitely,” I say with a smile. Before closing the door behind me, I look past him into the window, seeing my reflection once more.