The cursor flashed insistently like an EKG reading - blink-blink-blink-blink-blink - as if to prove life existed with its own pulse somewhere in cyberspace. Seconds passed and its winks turned into soundless, insistent jackhammers intent on drilling out communication.
It had all started when I met Jocelyn in an online chat room. Soon we were IM’ing privately, often for six-hour vigils in the middle of the night. She was drawn by my conviction that hope founded in Jesus is not a wish, yearning, or longing, but rather a promise. I was drawn by her transparent authenticity, something no doubt encouraged by the anonymity of the computer screen, and her desperate need for Jesus.
Jocelyn was a lively conversationalist with a sense of humor and plenty of deep questions. One night around 1:00 a.m. her heart erupted on the screen: “How is it possible to submit to Christ? I don’t understand myself well enough to know WHAT to yield!” I prayed that she simply relinquish ALL.
On Wednesday evening before Thanksgiving, Jocelyn met online with me and a woman named Alicia who also frequented the same common website. Jocelyn was ready to receive Christ as her personal Lord and Savior! The conversation started easily, and within a few minutes Alicia popped the question outright.
“So Jocelyn, we’re here for a specific purpose tonight.”
I thought she sounded much like an attorney with an agenda!
“Do you believe Jesus Christ is the unique Son of God who came as the ultimate sacrifice to absolve the penalty of your personal sins?” she continued.
The cursor continued to blink without interruption.
“Jocelyn?” I typed tentatively. “Are you still here?”
“Jocelyn?” Alicia chimed in.
“We won’t leave you,” I said. “We’re here for as long as it takes.”
“I’m here,” Jocelyn typed. “I’m just not sure why YOU are here.”
“We’re here because we love you,” I typed.
“But why? Neither of you know me.”
I tried to select my words carefully. “God loves us, and His love compels us to love you!”
“But you don’t know what I’ve done.”
“We don’t have to know those things,” Alicia typed.
“Don’t you care?”
“Of course we care – and of course you should repent and turn from known rebellion against God. We just don’t need details to welcome you into the family of faith. His grace is sufficient.” I tried to frame the truth with compassion.
“Well, I’ve already repented, and I believe God is willing to forgive me. I just feel foolish being online like this with people I don’t even know, making this life-altering confession with jeering cyber monkeys climbing all over the place …”
“It’s pretty black-and-white, Jocelyn,” Alicia typed. “I can recite a prayer and you can repeat after me if you want.”
A knot stuck in my throat. I felt Jocelyn needed her own voice rather than some cookie-cutter confession - but who was I to legislate conversation between relative strangers? Was there any authority here - any true accountability? My heart raced.
“Thanks, but no – I think I need to do this myself,” Jocelyn typed.
Bless her heart!
“I’m going to pray – are you both ready?” she ventured.
Alicia typed, “Yes.”
I added, “We’re ready. And Jocelyn, God is right here with us.”
“Jocelyn?” I typed.
“Did you say you were ready?”
“Yeah. I’m thinking about what you said. About God being right here with us. When we’re from three different corners of the continental United States.”
“Well, His Spirit is here in our hearts – that’s the point,” I explained.
“Sure. Okay. Here goes.”
We waited expectantly knowing the Lord of the Universe was speaking to His beloved.
“Father in heaven, I am Jocelyn, a sinner,” she began. “I’m trapped by some pretty awful circumstances, but I believe in Your Son, the perfect redeeming sacrifice, Jesus Christ.”
“I ask for You to forgive and adopt me, and teach me how to love and be loved. Thank you for these ladies who were willing to be here with me tonight. Bless us all. Amen.”
The cursor’s blinks suddenly transformed into flutters of silent applause. I celebrated for Jocelyn, a woman with a heart like that of Tiny Tim on the other end of cyber space - a heart shrouded with pain but also willing to risk love.
“God bless us every one!” I typed.
“Amen!” Alicia agreed.
The cursor cheered on, as God smiled on our cyber-sanctuary – our haven of hope.
Author’s note: This story is based on truth. A woman received Christ in a chat room with several others present several years ago right before Thanksgiving, and I happened to be one of the privileged few who witnessed her confession of faith via cyberspace. Much later I was thrilled to meet this woman, who lived in another faraway state, face-to-face. It was like homecoming. ☺
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