Candice’s* emotional life was in a free fall. Her thoughts were consumed by wanting to escape from work and from her life. One day at work she approached a flight of stairs. Glancing down at the steps before her, Candice turned to her co-worker and said, “Just throw me down the stairs!”
She got her wish the next day when she fractured her tailbone while snowboarding. Her injury gave her time to reflect on her life. For months now, she had been a zombie at work. To protect herself, she realized she had “turned off” her emotions every time she was at work. Now Candice discovered that she could not turn them back on. She felt she was becoming a robot, at risk of losing all her humanity. Candice was in complete misery. She felt trapped, with no way out.
Her best friend, Renee, was well aware of her fragile emotional state. She invited Candice out for dinner and after the meal, they took Candice’s dog out for a long walk. As they wended their way through the neighbourhood streets, Renee spoke.
“You know how much I care about you–how much I love you, right?” said Renee. Candice wasn’t sure where Renee was headed with the conversation but she continued to listen. Renee mentioned how she had observed Candice’s depression and wanted to offer her hope.
“Do you know Jesus Christ?” asked Renee. Candice’s eyebrows knitted together in puzzlement. She really had no idea where Renee was headed with their talk. Why was she bringing up this Jesus? Who was he? What did he have to do with her problems?
Renee began to explain who Jesus was, providing her friend with essential information that is often termed as the irreducible minimums of the gospel. She explained first about God’s holy character and then how people, who were God’s creation, had been separated from him because of sin.
Renee asked her friend, “Have you ever lied, stolen or hated? I’ve done these things, too.” She went on to explain that these sins had separated her from God. But Renee had learned that God offered a way of reconciliation, a way that can lead to peace.
“Would you like to have your heavy burden lifted? You can trust God to help you. It wouldn’t be easy and things won’t change suddenly overnight, but by trusting in the God of the Bible, you can find peace in the midst of the storm.”
Candice listened but didn’t quite understand all that Renee was saying. This was all new information for her. She had never heard of the things that Renee was talking about. Her family had no religious background. She knew nothing about Christianity. Holidays like Christmas had no significance for her. And what was this peace that Renee was speaking of? For so much of her life, Candice had struggled to find happiness and peace. Joy was ephemeral and Candice felt the weight of the world on her shoulders.
As Candice’s house came into view, Renee asked, “If I gave you a book, would you read it? It explains in greater detail what I’ve tried to talk about this evening.”
“Sure,” Candice responded.
Renee gave her a copy of The Stranger on the Road to Emmaus. Candice found it fascinating because everything in it was completely new to her. Then she hit a road bump in her reading. She got to chapter eight and learned about the Ten Commandments for the first time. She had a hard time reading through this section. God’s standard of perfection dealt her a blow. She felt devastated. She called Renee and told her how upset she felt.
“I cannot believe what a horrible person I am! I thought I was a good person. I volunteer, I’m selfless. I’m good to my friends, good to my family. But at this moment, I realize I am a sinner.”
After this realization hit her, Candice put the book aside. She could not read on. It was easier not to face what the Bible was saying about people’s hearts–about her heart.
Renee sent a text message some time later. “How’s the book going? Do you have any questions?”
That message jolted Renee. She realized she never found out the rest of the message of hope. She was determined to finish God’s story. She picked up the book once more and read it till the end. She closed the book and set it aside again. She believed she understood what she had read, but she wasn’t ready to accept it.
It wasn’t until her grandpa ended up in the hospital that she started praying to the God of the Bible–asking for understanding. Her grandpa’s illness resulted in death and Candice took his passing extremely hard. She felt desperate.
Picking up the phone, she called Renee. “Could I come to church with you?” she asked.
Renee gladly welcomed the request. A couple of Sundays later, the pastor approached Candice to introduce himself.
“Hi! I’m Pastor Ed*,” he said. They started a conversation and he asked her what church she attended.
“Um, I don’t,” was Candice’s honest reply. He nodded and continued the conversation. He asked about her and she found herself opening up. The more they talked, the more she felt that he was talking right to her soul. He understood the struggles she was going through. In fact, he described his own similar journey of pain and darkness. Candice was shocked that he, a pastor, knew exactly how she felt. When the conversation ended, she realized they had talked for close to three hours. Candice cried during the entire journey home.
A week later, Candice called Renee. “I’m ready,” she announced. “I want salvation but I’m nervous. Can you come and share this moment with me?” Renee was more than delighted. She joined Candice and watched as her friend put her trust in Jesus for salvation. She listened as Candice prayed, asking Jesus for forgiveness.
Now a believer, Candice discovered life was… still quite difficult. But for the first time in her life, she saw her situation with clarity. In some ways, life hurt more. People whom she thought were her friends, turned out not to be. But she found she could forgive them, now that she herself had found forgiveness. At long last, she had found true peace. As she put it,
“I was unaware that anyone could feel this much happiness, especially me. I could not stop smiling because I don’t have a reason not to. Since I’ve been saved, I feel incredibly blessed to see how the Lord is working in my life.”
Candice now came to see that living a life without the Lord had no purpose. But by trusting him, her life took on meaning and direction. She expressed it this way:
“I look forward to serving him every step of the way and I cannot wait to see how he continues to work in my life.”
God worked a miracle in Candice’s life, giving her hope, peace and meaning. In the course of this miracle, he used the efforts of Renee and Pastor Ed, both of whom were faithful in sharing with Candice the gospel message and who both spent time to help Candice. Thank God for such ambassadors.
Do you have a Candice in your own life? As you interact with co-workers and friends, take a moment to ask how they are and ask God how you can help them find the peace that comes from putting one’s trust in Jesus for salvation. Ask yourself if you are ready to share the gospel, either by leading a friend through a study or by giving a book that explains the gospel message. If you are ready, then pray for an opportunity and be alert. If you’re not, learn how you can be.
(* All names changed as per GoodSeed policy.)