Summer might have been a few months ago, but one of my favorite parts of City Life this past summer was watching Rachel come back to City Life. This summer we stood a part. She entered into a relationship and shared all of her joys and struggles with that person. We hardly messaged. Her dad faced sentencing charges up to seven years. She turned her back on God and cut me out too. Her bitterness heightened when she was sent home from camp during the first 48 hours due to an injury. I saw her alienating herself from God. I wanted to stop it, but I couldn’t. God said so. He had another design.
God gave me this image of me standing at the bottom of the driveway in front of Rachel’s house. She ran down the street under the shady tree branches reaching over the road. I wanted to run after her, to stop her and to tell her to turn around and come back. But I could not. God held me back. He said, “Jael, I need to you to stay right here, at the foot of her driveway. Don’t move.” I shifted my eyes away from His face to the every shrinking figure of Rachel racing down the street. Rachel tripped and fell face down in a mud puddle. Tears stung my eyes. Why couldn’t I be there to help her up? Then I looked and saw the figure of Jesus kneeling next to Rachel in the mud. He was lifting her hair away from her face and speaking gently to her. She didn’t respond, but she let him care for and touch her. I held onto this image, hoping and waiting for Rachel’s return.
Near the end of the summer, Rachel messaged me for a ride to a worship night hosted by Arthur, a friend and staff worker with City Life. In the quietness of my heart I whispered to God, “Please let this be when Rachel comes back.” Hope flickered inside me.
I drove Rachel home at the end of the night. We sat in the car, talking and then Rachel yelled and wept. Hurt tore through her in waves of pain. She was going through a break up, and feeling the loss and hurt dearly. Her dad had not yet been sentenced to prison; she waited in limbo wondering if she will have a father around or not. Her mom had recently got engaged; which means more stability for Rachel, but not any more love.
I sat, tears slipping onto my cheeks as I heard her pain and anguish. I was there, as God established. He had called me to stand to welcome her home when she came home. There we were, home and closer than ever before.
-Jael Dick *Schenectady City Life Volunteer*
*Names have been changed