(Some details have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.)
God had given Amy a smile that would brighten up any room.
We were fifteen and part of an elite group of teen singers from different parts of the state. For several weeks that summer we toured around from church to church, leading worship and singing our little hearts out.
I often think back to the days of that summer when I stood next to her, blending my high soprano voice with her smooth and perfectly pitched alto voice.
For years after the tour was over, we kept in touch through hand written letters (remember those?) and I’d occasionally see her at state-wide youth events where we’d hug and giggle about high school and boys as if no time had passed.
Later, we found each other on social media. She had grown up and started a family and so had I. She moved, I moved. She had good times and bad times, and I did too.
It was then that I realized she was in trouble.
She had this dark whirlpool churning and growing inside that never seemed to be satisfied.
Sex, alcohol, drugs, pills, job, no job, money, no money, lose weight, gain weight, blonde hair, brown hair, parties, boyfriend, no boyfriend…nothing made her feel better. Nothing made her truly feel whole.
I think back to the countless times I tried talking to her about God. I think of all the nights I’d tearfully intercede in prayer on her behalf in the hopes she would one day accept Christ’s love, grace, and forgiveness.
Like many people who attend church events or participate in “Christian” activities, Amy didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus.
I didn’t either until I was older. But what I’ve learned is there’s a monumental difference between religion and relationship.
In spite of growing up in the church, Amy never really knew Jesus or completely surrendered her life to Him. Instead, she continued to search for happiness, love, value, and healing from her secret pain everywhere except Jesus.
Today, I received news that my friend, Amy, passed away from a self-induced drug overdose.
I am heartbroken and the heaviness of her death has sunk into the very bottom of my soul.
I grieve not only because she is gone, leaving two wonderful kids without a mother, but because-to my knowledge-she didn’t know Jesus.
I do not claim to be God and know what she believed in her final moments, so I cling to the hope she accepted Christ before she took her final breath.
Remember Amy, because so many of the people around us are hurting.
Maybe it’s you who’s feeling hopeless, lost, or empty. Maybe you’re struggling with an addiction.
If this relates to your life, know there is not only forgiveness, grace, and unconditional love in Jesus Christ, but real and lasting freedom from your addiction, anxiety, or pain.
God is waiting for you to surrender your life over to Him so He can begin healing you, filling your soul with a peace beyond understanding that’s nothing you’ll ever find in this world.
If Amy reminds you of someone you know, continue to pray for them and never stop reaching out to them with love and compassion.
Ultimately, each individual has to make the decision to either accept Jesus as their Lord and Savior or not.
28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” ~Jesus (Matthew 11:28-30)
If you’re unfamiliar with the Bible, here is a different version to read:
28-30 “Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me. Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest. Walk with me and work with me—watch how I do it. Learn the unforced rhythms of grace. I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you. Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” ~Jesus (The Message, Matthew 11:28-30)
I may not know you or your story, but Jesus does and He is waiting for you.