What About Now?

Yesterday I edited a study written by one of the Christ to the World Contemporary youth team. The studies are scripted radio broadcasts discussing biblical topics and various portions of Scripture. Something Brad, one of the characters in the broadcast, said, really hit me. I thought of it again today at church. In the broadcast, Brad, one of the teen participants, said he was  still waiting for that person to come to his aid–someone to show they cared.

Today’s youth are often referred to as the love-less generation. This means there are an increasing number of young people who have never heard (or rarely hear) those imperative words, “I love you.” Right now, as I write this, someone is sitting in their room, alone, wondering if anyone cares. They don’t need a Bible verse shoved under their doorstep. They need someone to be Jesus to them. They need someone to demonstrate the love of Christ.

Jesus said they would know we were His disciples by our love. Or more accurately, by His love. And love is a verb, folks.

What About Now? (Because Tomorrow May Be Too Late)

Yavonne sits on her bed with her back pressed against the headboard and a pillow clutched to her chest. Her parents’ brutal words slice through her paper-thin walls, filling their house with hatred.  She grabs her Ipod sitting on her bedside table and slams the earplugs into her ears, cranking the volume until her brain vibrates. Tears lodge in her throat, but she swallows them down.

A razor blade tucked inside her nightstand drawer beckons her. The scars forever etched in her arm pale compared to the deep wounds encasing her heart. One of these days, she’ll cut deep enough to end it all.

Would anyone care? Would anyone even notice? The words spoken by a neighbor a few months back flood her mind, playing tug-of-war with her heart.

“God loves you. He’ll never leave you nor forsake you. He sees you.”

She snorts and yanks up her sleeve, exposing ugly pink scars. Yeah, he sees her all right. All of her. Why would he care about her or her family?  

“God loves you. He’ll never leave you nor forsake you. He sees you.”

What a laugh. If that’s true, then where is he now?

Yavonne holds her breath, her heart quickening, as she waited for a response.

The steel guitar grates against her ear drum.

Yeah, that’s what she thought. What does it matter, anyway? You live and die, then turn to worm food.

So why not speed the process along a big? Shorten the dash on the headboard?

***

Rachel sifts through her container of beads, laying the yellows and orange on the table. Soft praise music drifts from the kitchen, muting her parents’ chattering voices. She smiles and resumes her beading.

The words of this morning’s sermon fill her head.

“You’ve been given a precious gift. Now you need to share it. God wants to loves the world—through you. Right now, as you sit her surrounded by His love, someone is hurting. Right now someone is calling out to God, asking Him if He truly cares. The question is, will you allow Him to love His broken children through you, or will you turn and walk away.”

An image of Yavonne, her neighbor, lingers in her mind—the dark, almost hollow eyes, centered on the ground. Her shoulders, hunched forward. Her face hardened by anger and bitterness.

Rachel shakes her head. Yavonne isn’t interested in Jesus. Yavonne isn’t interested in anything.

“Will you share His love with a hurting world?”

She rests her hand on the table as the question posed by her pastor nibbles at her heart.

But of course she will. She does all the time. Last week she’d spent ten hours helping with Vacation Bible School. That’s sharing God’s love, right? And next Wednesday she plans to join the youth at the local women’s shelter.

And yet, despite her rationale, peace evades her as the questions continued to rise.

“What about now? Will you be there for my child now?”

Her mother walks into the kitchen clutching a basket of laundry. “What’s wrong, sweetie? You like you’re about to swallow a lemon.”

If only it were that easy.

Rachel rubs a bead between her index finger and thumb. “I’m not sure why, but I feel like God wants me to go talk to Yavonne.”

 “Then you should go.”

“I don’t know…. Maybe I should pray about it.”

“Or maybe you should obey.”

Rachel sighs and pushed up from the table, her stomach flip-flopping.

Her mother smiles. “I’ll be praying for you.”

***

Yavonne’s hand trembles as she holds the thin razor blade against her clammy skin. Her veins form a faint blue webbing through her wrist.

Just do it, you coward. One slice and it’ll be all over. One cut—long, deep and quick. She closes her eyes and grits her teeth—

A loud knock shakes her door. “Yavonne!”

Yavonne’s breathe catches in her throat. She shoves the razor under her pillow, her gaze locked on the jiggling door knob in front of her.

“Yavonne! How many times do I have to tell you not to lock your door?”

As if her father really cares.

“Someone’s here to see you.”

She wipes her sweaty palms on her pant legs, smoothes her hair from her face, and stands on numb legs.

“Coming.”

The stench of alcohol and stale cigarettes assault her when she swings the door open. Her father stands in the hall wearing faded jean shorts and a sweat-stained tank-top. Her mother lounges on a couch a few feet away watching television and gulping beer.

 “That girl from next door’s here.”  He swipes his nose with the back of his hand. “Said something about beads.”

Yavonne angles her head, staring into the living room where Rachel stands with a stiff smile on her face.  Her smile twitches as Yavonne approaches.

“Hey.”

“Hey….I…uh….” Rachel chews on her bottom lip, scanning the cluttered living room.

Heat rushes up Yavonne’s neck, settling into Yavonne’s cheeks as she follows Rachel’s gaze. Empty beer bottles clutter the coffee table and dark stains splatter the carpet. An overflowing bag of trash lies on the linoleum floor, flies buzzing around it.

“So…. Do you like to make jewelry?”

Yavonne snorts. “Do I what?”

The girl wrings her intertwined hands, staring from the floor to Yavonne’s face then back to the floor again. “I wondered if….” She swallows. “I mean, uh…you wanna come over for a minute?”

Yavonne studies Rachel for a moment, searching for the hidden joke. When none surfaces, she nodded. “I guess so. Sure beats sitting around here all day.”

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