Cheryl planned to kill herself by getting drunk and then setting her house on fire.
Brought up in a Christian home, she wandered further and further away from her upbringing, and eventually embraced witchcraft. But nothing brought her the love and peace she sought. Her hopelessness grew. It was March 6, 2012 when she wrote her goodbye letter.
“If there’s no hope,” she thought, “why go on?” So she planned her death.
But that plan, of course, was not God’s plan. He used the prayers and encouragement of her friend Janna, who for five years had been inviting her to church and other activities, to intersect with Cheryl’s growing despair. In the depth of her darkest hopelessness, Cheryl cried out to God.
“Suddenly, it all became real,” she says now. “I finally ‘got it’: God loves me. ME!”
I have the delight of watching Cheryl joyfully jump headfirst into that love. Trust me, hers is not the only life that has been changed.
I am greatly impacted by Cheryl’s new life, which she fondly calls “the resurrected me.” Today I am thanking God for the privilege of sharing the beautiful ways I see her faith flourishing:
She devours God’s Word. I love it when she calls me to say, “Listen to this verse! Isn’t that utterly amazing? I just had to share that with you.”
She shares her faith. Just ask the tellers at her bank, her hairdresser, the cable company customer service rep, and her neighbors. Cheryl can’t keep quiet about the God who rescued her.
She prays. A lot. When it comes to prayer, she is proactive. She made it a point to ask our youth minister how she could pray for him. She visited the youth service to experience “his world” and better understand how to pray.
She’s grateful. I don’t know if this is original to her or not, but she says it frequently: “It’s not OK to forget to remember what God has done.”
She gives. I’ve been blessed by her generosity, as have many others. Her cheerful giving must make God grin.
She worships. Songs and sermons touch her heart, and she reaches for tissues often. But sunsets and spring flowers cause her to break into praise, too.
How grateful I am that God intervened, that Satan did not win, that Cheryl did not carry out her plans to end her life in flames.
I think God wanted to underscore the fact that He was victorious in Cheryl’s life in that regard. Last Thanksgiving, at Cheryl’s request, we had a bonfire. She brought bags and boxes of books from her house: books about spells, sorcery, magic and witchcraft. It was scene straight out of the book of Acts. Cheryl tossed the books one by one into the flames. Then Janna, Julia, Cheryl and I prayed and worshiped God… around a roaring fire.
“Many who had practiced sorcery brought their books and threw them on the fire to burn them publicly….in this way the word of the Lord spread widely and grew in power” (Acts 19:19a, 20).