Rachel's Story

 

Writing is not something I usually find difficult, but on this particular occasion it does not come easily. On one hand I am overwhelmed by the immensity of God’s love and forgiveness but on the other I still, at times, feel ashamed of the extent of my sin.

 

This Easter time I moved into a greater understanding of the depth of God’s love and the lengths to which he stretched, to redeem, rescue and heal me from sin and myself.

 

An article in The Times told a story about an earthquake victim in Italy. A young man had been visiting a friend in another neighbourhood when the earthquake struck. The block of apartments he was in collapsed and he was trapped in the ruined building with little hope of being rescued, as no one knew he was there.

 

His father, a doctor, was worried about his son’s safety and wellbeing when the earthquake struck and tried to call him at home. There was no reply and he didn’t know where his son was. He walked the streets in the neighbourhood calling his son’s name and would not give up in his search. Eventually he felt an urge to stop and call out. He was standing beside a collapsed building and he called out his son’s name. He asked those around to be quiet while he listened intently. He heard a muffled cry and moved closer calling again. The faint voice from beneath the rubble gasped, ‘Papa I’m in here and I can’t breath’

The father (Dr Colangeli) got the help of a man who was a caver and they carefully removed boulders and rubble with their bare hands until they had cleared enough space to reach his son and pull him out.

 

This story moved me to tears as it is, in a strange way, my story too. I was struggling with some difficulties in my marriage and personal life. I was weakened and strayed from God’s path. At the time it did not seem far and it didn’t take long, but the consequences were devastating and shook me to the core.

 I became involved in a relationship I shouldn’t have - I ventured into an unsafe building and no one knew I was there. My sin was secret. When the building and my world collapsed around me, I was trapped inside with all the dirt and ruin on top of me, buried in the rubble.

 

When no one knows you are trapped and injured how can you hope to be rescued? Who will come looking?  I felt utterly alone, desperate and ashamed – too ashamed to tell anyone I was in there.

 

As a Christian of many years I knew that God could rescue, but guilt and shame weighed heavily upon me. I also knew that I could not get out without help: the hole was too deep. I was speaking to the Lord and pleading for the help I so needed but didn’t deserve, and I wondered if he would help me.

 

God prompted me several times to contact Dove Counselling Service as I knew some of the people there. That would mean being open and honest about my sin; it would also mean taking the risk of being judged by someone I knew and trusting them and God to help me. God waited for my willingness and I took the step.

 

My Father used skilled counsellors (cavers) to move the boulders, pull me out of the rubble and help me put my life back together again. They did not judge but helped me face and work through the consequences of my wrong choices.

Over the last year I have experienced the awesomeness of God’s total forgiveness. I have also been melted by my husband’s forgiveness and we are working together to rebuild our marriage on a strong foundation.

 

Can God work a miracle and save a wrecked marriage?

Absolutely. 

Can he work forgiveness into a hopeless situation and heal past, present and future wounds?

Most certainly. 

I am living proof of both.

 

God did not rest until he had found and rescued me. When He called my name I said: ‘Papa I’m down here and I can’t breathe’

He wept with grief and joy as he watched me being pulled from the rubble.

 

Corrie Ten Boom says that there is no pit too deep that God’s love isn’t deeper still. It is true. I am also discovering that ‘she who has been forgiven much loves much.’

 

 

I am so grateful to God for His love and forgiveness that I can’t hide it.

I am still afraid that people will find out and judge me and sometimes when I look at friends I draw back from allowing them near because if only they knew...

Perhaps I will learn to live with this in time. Sometimes casual words sting as I hear friends passing judgement on others.

The day you said to me that you didn’t judge me and that you were proud of me for telling my husband what I had done was a real turning point for me. You had such compassion and genuine love in your eyes that it brought tremendous healing to me – it really was like soothing balm pouring into my burned and troubled heart.

 

The doctor explained a strange ‘symmetry’ in events when he flagged down an ambulance:

‘The other passenger was one of the doctor’s own in-patients, an elderly man who was being taken to hospital by his daughter, also a doctor, to the hospital where she worked in Rome. It was like a divine exchange. I had treated her dad and she was able to help my son.’

I pray that I will one day be able to bless you in a deep and dynamic way.

 

Update 

 

Dear Friend

 

It’s Easter 2010, another year on, and as I contemplate what Jesus has done for me I realise that I no longer feel the raw pain of my sin. I have not forgotten, but I don’t think often of it. I have a deep gratitude but know that God wants me to choose to look forward rather than back. It is no longer a part of who I am.

 

 For a long time I lived in the shadow of the ruin I was rescued from. I revisited it regularly to remind myself of how utterly dark it was, believing that remembering would keep me safe. Then God challenged me to move on. He explained it like this:

‘When you stand in the shadow of your ruin, it blocks out the sun’ 

I have learned that as I look at the Son I am reminded of his love without having to stare at the past.  He chooses not to remember it, so why should I?

Today I thanked him for all he has done for me and I am amazed at his unfailing love.

It’s gone -

Over.

By my forgiveness.

Done.