It was late one Monday night; not late enough that bed time was being encroached on quite yet, but late enough that the cool air was starting to sink in and settle within the trees. Neither of them would be able to remember why the phone call had started in the first place, but there in the turning point...neither could ever deny the monster they found waiting, taunting, and circling.
"Stop-- would you just stop! He doesn't love me. He couldn't-- Because? Because He just wouldn't. He can't. Not after all that's happened. And what does it even matter, I don't deserve it."
The words cut the air, but it was the following silence that filled with hollow sobs that pierced the heart on the other line. And from a distance all he could do was watch her sink down to the ground in defeat and utter helplessness.
Neither of them knew it then. But in that moment, the door shut, the lock turned, and without even realizing it she sentenced her soul to death.
Not too long ago, for me, that wasn't a story. That was reality. That was a pocket of time that I have tried to keep closed since the second it happened. It was a night I so desperately tried to let fade away in the light of the morning, but the truth was--it wasn't going anywhere.
My soul, right there, admitted defeat. It forfeited itself to the sin, the flesh, and the pitch black darkness that had been looming over it for years. Insecurity had won. Other's opinions had won. Doubt had won. Self-hatred stood tall, and the lies of Satan claimed victory on that dark night spent pacing outside of a dorm building. The lights within me went out, and in the darkness that followed, chaos ensued. Hearts were torn to pieces, friendships went up in flames, self-destruction felt justified, and a deathly cocktail of lies and rumors reigned supreme. I was standing in the middle of a hurricane, and knew deep down within me that I probably wouldn't survive it. And to be honest, I don't think I wanted to.
But when the battlefield engulfed me in quiet, defeated, and the banners of Satan's victory, I heard something ring out:
The sound hung in my heart as an echo that I couldn't quite get rid of, and in all sorts of ways did not understand. I was standing in defeat. I was standing in a pain that left a chilling numbness to the core, and for some reason all I could hear were these sounds that didn't even sound like words. But, then five days before graduation, I sat in an unfamiliar office, and the words crashed like a door banging open: "If you are in, we would love to have you join our staff."
It has almost been four months and a few days since I walked back into that office and began a new career in student ministry. And for all four months I have heard it over and over and over. Talitha koum. Talitha koum. Talitha koum.
And through a beautiful whirlwind of a summer of walking into ministry as a career, taking a team to Mexico, teaching students for the first time , and moving to a town I've always known and re-learning it in an entirely new way...I found myself on a quiet Sunday morning, heart ripped wide open, staring straight into the power of Mark 5.
Tucked away in that little corner of the gospel is a miracle of Jesus that I'd never really known. It wasn't the basic water into wine, feeding the five thousand, or Lazarus walking from the grave...and so frankly, I didn't know it was a miracle that happened. Yet in this miracle, Jesus is pleaded to by a synagogue leader to come quickly because his daughter is dying, and there wasn't time to waste. But with another miracle happening between where Jesus stood and the house He was being called to, the little girl didn't survive:
"Your daughter is dead," they said. "Why bother the teacher anymore? Overhearing what they said, Jesus told him, "Don't be afraid; just believe." ... When they came to the home of the synagogue leader...Jesus went in and said to them, "Why all this commotion and wailing? The child is not dead but asleep." But they laughed at him. After he put them all out, he took the child's father and mother..and went in where the child was. He took her by the hand and said to her, "Talitha koum!" (which means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!') Immediately the girl stood up and began to walk around.
There they were. Red, italicized, and slamming into me like a truck going seventy-five miles per hour was this echoing sound finally becoming distinct words. Talitha koum. Little girl, I say to you, get up. This was not a magical healing formula Jesus was whispering over the girl, this was a direct, unwavering command. This was waking up a twelve year old girl from what this world so labels as death. This was an almighty awakening.
While weeks and weeks ago, I took defeat and let death take over my mind, my soul, and the deepest parts of my heart...He stood over me and said: "Little girl, get up."
Get up from the self-hatred.
Get up from the doubt.
Get up from the fear.
Get up from the insecurity.
Get up from questioning My love for you.
Get up from chasing other for scraps of love.
Get up from making anyone else the maker of your identity.
I say to you, get up.
Now as I've poured over this story, it says she got up and immediately began to walk around, but I don't picture in my mind them being these bold, poised, confident steps. I see a girl waking up from a deep sleep stumbling around, deeply confused at the unknown others now standing in her home. She remembers being sick, she remembers being in so much pain that she couldn't move past her bed. Who is even to say how long she had been bed ridden? Yet she followed the command and she stood in a new freedom, but with each step stumbled to understand a little more of what just had occurred.
This summer was over and over again, me waking up, and stumbling into a new step of understanding, a new step of freedom. It was standing on the other side of the room, looking at back at the bed where I had let my soul sink into death, and hearing the command that to get up was to never go back again. To understand in my soul, we are not called to single-handedly beat the sins of this world-- we can't. But we can answer our call to get up from the death being held over us. It was feeling the hand of the Almighty, loving, and sovereign Lord taking my hand, and from a simple statement bringing me out of a death I was certain was forever. It was looking around in a room full of strangers, and stumbling to them only to find complete awe, support, and the love of a new found family. It was waking up each morning to the decision to get up, and walk into a battle that's already been won.
Oh how sweet it is to pause for a quiet moment at summer's end, and realize that night months ago was not the moment Satan had won, but simply the time when Jesus sent everyone out and stepped up to a soul counted as dead, saw it as sleeping ..and said "Little girl, get up."