It was raining.
Falling in torrents. Pelting the pavement. Beating down on the gravel. Overflowing potholes with murky water. Merging with sewage waste; its rancid odor permeating the night air. Cold, October rain.
It didn’t matter to me that I was soaked to the skin; damp clothes sticking to my body, soaked hair clinging to my face. A flash of lightening streaked across the sky, illuminating the dark, empty parking lot in a brief flicker of light. Stretching out my arms, I tilted my face up to the sky and yelled into the storm.
“Here I am, just take me!”
But my screams were lost in the eruption of thunder. The pistol trembled in my hand. Though tears burned behind my eyes, I refused to let them fall. Disconnecting my brain from my body, I slowly raised the gun to my forehead.
“Please, God, just let me die.”
Again, the sky lit up in a blaze of light. But this time, I saw him. Lowering the gun, I stumbled across the parking lot and stared up into the ivory face of God. Raindrops cascaded from his brow, trickled across his sculpted wounds, and dripped from his pierced feet into a shallow puddle on the ground.
My voice was barely a whisper. “Don’t you understand? I just want to be with you. There is nothing for me here. Please, let me come home.”
As the ground rumbled beneath my feet, the mud dissolved into blood splattered stones and the muddy puddle into a pool of blood. I could hear a raspy, guttural panting and every muscle in my body tensed as I realized it was the sound of tortured breathing.
A chill tore down my spine and I forced myself to look up.
His face looked nothing like the handsome carved stone; severely beaten and swollen, with missing chunks of beard exposing raw flesh. His hair matted with sweat and blood. His eyes lost in anguish. Blood oozed from his wrists, flowing down his arms, spilling across his body, mingling with the fresh stream seeping from his feet, drenching the wood, pooling onto the ground laden with stones.
My stomach wrenched in agony. I couldn’t breathe.
He heaved against the nails, scraping shards of tattered skin against the cross, as he pulled himself up for a breath of air. Swollen eyes turned to the blackened sky and through cracked and bleeding lips, he cried out, his words choked with blood. “God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”
His words slammed into my chest and I fell to my knees, but instead hitting the blood splattered stones, they sank into mud.
I backed away from the crucifix in horror. The pistol slipped through my fingers, sinking into the sludge.
I wanted to speak but the words wouldn’t come. My soul so desperately wanted to apologize for having felt forsaken by the One who was truly forsaken. If I had taken my own life, would I not also be guilty of forsaking him? Could I really stand before him and tell him his promise to never abandon me wasn’t good enough?
Though there was no end in sight for the rain that drenched my world in despondency, I would persevere. If, but for no other reason, then to stand defiant in the midst of life’s storms, beside my God, neither forsaking, nor being forsaken.
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