1 Thessalonians 1:4 It is clear to us, friends, that God not only loves you very much but also has put his hand on you for something special. (The Message)
She fidgets nervously, her feet dancing over the broken sidewalk as we talk simply of the heat and weather.
We walk to the mini mart to buy her some Coca-Cola.
She shoots up.
She apologizes as I try to veil the devastation I feel for her, for the deep puncture marks on her legs that deliver her slow poison, for her life here on Skid Row.
She opens up her life to us, telling of the years in prison, of the excruciating heroin withdrawals, of the quick relapse into a cycle of drugs and prostitution.
I ask her how she plans to escape and her answer devastates me further: methadone. How is this an escape? We talk of how to find happiness. I've never searched for mine in drugs, but there are so many places I've looked for false happiness. We talk of how they end up to be empty, "broken cisterns which hold no water."
She knows where to find true happiness--as I speak of the unimaginable joy that is God, she tells me of her relationship with Him. She knows all I can tell her about Him, she's heard of His great deliverance from addictions of every sort, but tears fill her eyes as she explains that it's never worked for her.
And yet she has faith in His power..."It must work, I just haven't received the gift of healing from it yet."
And she talks of the trap that is prostitution, how girls get sucked into it. Her heart breaks for these girls just as mine does for her. This is the ministry she feels she ought to do, to get to these girls before their future is her present. But her relationship with God is not there yet. The heroin to dull the pain of prostitution has her firmly in its grasp. "I've seen what Satan does when you let him have the power."
These words of wisdom and conviction coming out of lips surrounded by blisters. This broken heart veiled behind the tough external.
We talk for hours...she seems content to pour her heart out on that broken street for us to love. She is reluctant to leave our conversation, and so are we. We long to keep her, to protect her, to continue to shower her with God's hope found in His unfailing love and powerful redemption.
But eventually we must leave this divine appointment, our broken hearts overflowing with emotion. We promise to pray for her addiction to be broken, for her to find a way off the streets. As I hug her, she says in my ear "I love you." And then we return, changed by this sweet and devastating encounter.
Her name is Special. And she covets your prayers.