It was still dark at 4:00 AM when Laura pulled the car over and stopped beneath some trees. She carefully placed the envelope, addressed to her parents and Casey, in plain sight. The sight of it brought back the voice she couldn’t get out of her head.
“Laura, God loves you. He’s seeking you, wanting you to come back to Him.,” her mother said, again and again.
Laura slammed the car door. Except for that voice, she wouldn’t be in agony. Maybe she could have gone on living her life the way she wanted, without nagging guilt. The voice kept chipping away at her enjoyment.
Then she thought of her daughter, Casey, just turned nine, and her heart broke. Casey needed more than her, a mother without purpose, drifting from job to job, hazy from the painkillers Laura had come to depend upon. The pills started after the accident, but Laura knew they were now her means of dulling the pain in her life.
Locking the car, she tucked the keys in her pocket and walked onto the bridge. The pedestrian walkway was narrow but fairly easy to maneuver, even with her unsteady feet.
About midway across, Laura found the broken rail. She had seen it some time ago, shortly after the semi had lost control and scraped the side of the bridge. Perhaps it was what gave her the idea. She looked both ways and, seeing no one, climbed onto the concrete barrier and looked down. It wasn’t really a high bridge, but high enough.
“God loves you, Laura,” she heard again. She literally covered her ears trying to shut it out.
God had loved her once, she’d thought, but not now. Why should He? She had left Him far behind to do her own thing. She’d run away from home into a bad marriage, then misery and failure as it fell apart. Alcohol abuse, drugs, and finally the needs of her miraculously healthy little girl, drove her back to her parents’ home. Mom and Dad had welcomed her and Casey with open arms, and things were better for awhile.
But her unchanged, willful heart had led Laura back and forth from the “good life” to her old haunts, again pulling her from those who loved her. Then came the wreck, followed by pain medications, and retreat into their fog. But they no longer drowned out that voice, and she just couldn’t go on, not even for Casey. Life was too hard.
Laura took a deep breath and again stared below at the river, swollen from recent rains. It was murky brown, a deep swirling mass filled with twigs and debris. In despair, Laura saw in the dingy, dirty water a picture of her life, churning, surging, frightening. It was colorless, except for the terrible drab brownness. Her soul seemed to blend into it.
She swayed, stepping closer to the rail’s opening. Laura realized she was crying, sobbing hopelessly. She hadn’t cried in a long time.
“No! I can’t let you do that”. Strong arms suddenly gripped her, pulling her down, back to the walkway. In the darkness Laura made out the strained face of a middle-aged man in jogging clothes. He was trembling, but tightened his hold. She started to resist, then realizing only tremendous relief, she became still.
“Whatever the problem, young lady, this is not the answer,” the man frowned. “You see, I happen to know that God loves you...”
At his words, Laura froze and dropped her head. In that moment, she knew it wasn’t this man’s voice, nor even her Mom’s she was hearing, but it was God’s. He was seeking, loving, waiting for her surrender. She was finally ready.
“I’m such a mess,” she babbled, “In a river... swallowed in ugly brown mire... can’t swim.”
“There are other rivers, you know,” the man spoke firmly. "Jesus talked about some, and called them ‘...rivers of living water.’ (John 7:38b KJV), for those who come to Him.”
“And I can tell you, too, about One Who can make ugly brown as white as snow. But for now, let’s get you home.”
Her jogger-friend took her car keys, drove to the address she gave him, and gently helped her to the door. Inside, Laura knew, would be Mom, Dad, and Casey, and the love and prayers she would so badly need, as she tried to listen and follow the blessed Voice.
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