This story which I present to you today is based on a true life incident of a young girl. The name of the character has been changed to protect the person’s identity. I use this story for the good because as we Christians know, God uses all things for good. This is a tragic story…the outcome of it all could have been so much worse if the hand of God had not entered it but this is the story of Emma…and the intense battle for her soul.
“I, Emma, a sinner do humbly admit before God my imperfection. I am His humble servant and all my life I have worked to serve Him- to know, love and serve Him. It is easy to say with words ‘I love God and I choose to follow Him.’ But with actions, it is so much more difficult, almost impossible especially when the world enters the situation…the world meaning ‘the enemy.’ Following Christ is the hardest thing I have ever chosen to do and I am sure that every person experiences this in their own way…the struggles and hardships of every day life. I always felt like I loved God, that I served Him in all my little ways yet actions do speak louder than words. Yet knowing God the way that He knows me and all of His children, now that is the hardest thing to do. I don’t know how to say this…I feel like I am drowning and entering into a spiritual darkness. I feel the weight of the world on my shoulders. I hear voices in my ears, my guardian angel on my right, and the voice of an unknown dark spirit on my left, each delivering a contradictory message . The confusion I experience as a result of this is exhausting. On my right I hear: ‘God loves you; you have such a great mission in your life, more than you know! Why would you think that God made you for no reason, that He doesn’t know you and doesn’t adore you? If you cannot trust God in the things of earth that apply to your life, how can you trust Him with the things of Heaven?’ And then in opposition on the left: ‘You are nothing! Destroy yourself ! Hang yourself or drown in the sea! God loves you?! Ha! You’re pathetic. He doesn’t want you! You are a sinner! Don’t bother going to mass or praying. You hypocrite! What do you think praying will do for you? God doesn’t hear you…in fact, how do you know He even exists?’” I felt myself slipping away when I would hear these thoughts of suicide from the evil one himself…I had to get rid of them. My life had never been perfect no but I would never ever have the thought of hurting myself. I felt a battle for my soul like a tug of war. When Christ said in the Bible that He came to bring division, to separate the sheep from the goats, I understood that I could not live a middle life. I needed help and I needed to change. I needed to seek comfort in someone, anyone who could help me get out of this fog…this cloud of confusion, this time of doubt and in this battle: the battle for my soul. Growing up as a young child I never knew my real parents; instead I was adopted as a baby by two loving parents that loved each other and that loved me. They never suffocated me with over-protection as some parents do. I was free. I had one of my best friends that lived nearby, parents that loved me, a good job, and so many people that cared for me. I had no real wants as for the materialistic things of life. I had my own car, my own computer, a private room of my own. All was good until the age of eighteen…things seemed to go downhill from there, spiritually and emotionally. I had unthinkingly, hit a rebellious stage in my life and a spiritual battle that I knew I could not handle on my own. I always had a great relationship with God when I was young. I went to mass, I prayed and talked to God daily. I knew that He loved me and that I was His little princess. I tried to follow the way of Christ. I did begin to lose, in my older formative years, friends that I had thought I truly could trust and would last forever. And it is true that when you stand up for something that you believe in, especially Christianity, you often stand alone. But I never was ashamed of what I was: a Roman Catholic, a soldier for Christ. Like Peter, I promised that I would follow Christ any where at any time…to prison and even unto death. But even as Peter denied Christ, I also denied Christ in my own way and for that I will forever feel shamed. From my mistake and my experience, I have fallen and risen again to a new level of my life. At the age of eighteen when I was encountering this spiritual sloth and darkness, I sought help and counsel in what I later discovered was the wrong person to fill my personal void. I was tired of my home life, tired of doing the same things over and over again and tired of listening to every word my parents told me. One day, on a private dating website, I met a gorgeous man. He had sent me many messages viewing my profile and gave me many compliments. Over weeks and weeks of conversations and mutual romantic interest, he obtained my trust. He presented me later with an offering, an opportunity that I could not pass up: to go meet him out of state, on the other side of the country…alone. I had never been alone with a man ever in my life, not in that sense. He persuaded me to come. “It would be the time of your life,” he said. It sounded so appealing and my urges for him increased every day that came closer to the day that I was to meet him. He even said: “maybe you will like it so much, that you won’t want to leave.” Exactly one week later, early in the morning when my parents were fast asleep, I left for the airport without their knowing, without any permission. I was my own person. I felt the urge of rebellion like a burning torch inside me. All my life I had been good, but now I wanted to be bad. And I felt like God didn’t care either, so then what was the risk? A taxi drove me to the airport and in a short three hours, I made it to my destination. I anxiously walked through the airport in search of the gorgeous man that vowed he cared for me. I was intensely puzzled and confused, however, when I saw him. The sign that he had given me… wearing a leather jacket and holding a red rose, was in the hands of the wrong man. “Or was it?” I told myself. Who was this man that I had really come to see? This man that I came to see was not who I thought he would be. I had been deceived; he was not youthful as he made himself to be. He was a man of middle age: fifty-three years old. I had been deceived by more than one man…this one and the devil himself. My mother had been right: the devil uses you, abuses you, and destroys you. Yet my shame of going back and facing the ones who guaranteed would say “I told you so” was worse than my staying for the time that I had planned. Who would I have come home to? Parents that don’t care, no man waiting for me and a God who had abandoned me I felt in every sense. I had indulged myself that week. Yet at the same time I was held prisoner. I had degraded myself and it was after that, that the payoff came for me. I was not allowed to leave. My cell phone was taken- the ability to call my parents and tell them I was still alive, tell them I loved them one last time. That moment would never come. I would either be sold for sex or murdered. I was in the worst parts of the town, near a jail and in an area of much sex trafficking. I had nowhere to turn to and no one to help me. I was lied to, deceived, abused, used, and beaten emotionally and physically. I felt I had no worth. Everyone back at home- my parents, close friends, family members, the people at my church parish…how could I face them now when I had lost my pride and dignity? I was not Emma anymore. It was strange that I never realized how desperate I was for love and how insecure I was in the idea that I would never find it. I became so accustomed to this treatment in the little time that I was there with him, though it felt like forever, that I didn’t want to leave. One minute he would strike me and the next he would tell me it was out of love and that it came from a place in the heart. I had decided that I would stay there with him. Besides, who after all of this, would want me? What good man of God that I had always dreamed of finding, would have me after this? I was damaged goods. I was shocked one day to see a familiar face next to a stranger, my only sister and a private investigator, break open the door of the apartment and grab me by the arm, telling me to come home. But I didn’t want to come home…not to the rules and regulations, not to the irksome ranting of my parents questions and not to the eyes of all who knew me and now knew too well what I had done. I made a deal with my sister. I would not return home and live with my parents. I would not take on the same job that I had before and loved for so long. I would not attend church and see my same friends. the Emma I was, was dead and long gone. I would begin again and live life the way I wanted to. I would embrace the new me rather than be ashamed of it as others would look at me. This was the Emma that I was sticking to. Being good was no fun. Yet at the same time, in the depths of my soul, I felt a change…and was not sure if this change was from Heaven or from Hell. It had been and still remains to be a huge battle for my soul. Emma…a girl I now barely knew. One look in my eyes and Emma was no more.
This personal story is so crucial in its telling and essential to learn from. There are two roads in life and one life to live. There is no middle. Christ came to bring division- to separate the sheep from the goats. There is the path of truth and the path of eternal life. It’s way is long and hard, filled with many obstacles and thorns. Then there is the path of destruction, of physical pleasure, of steep sin, the path of indulgence- the path of hell which is a slippery slope. Be careful not to make the same mistake if your lifetime. Yes you will make mistakes. But be assured of His own words in the story of the lost sheep. “What man of you having a hundred sheep: and if he shall lose one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the desert, and go after that which was lost, until he find it?” (Luke 15:4) If this true story of the battle for Emma’s soul in some little way reminds you of your life, know that God loves you in spite of all your sins. Have no fear of the enemy’s darkness, lies and deception. One day you will enter the light of Christ. He will find His lost sheep, hold you close and bring you into His kingdom. He will win the war for your soul and you will no longer be among the lost for everything that you had been looking for, will be right before your eyes.
So as for Emma, years later, she is back home, alive safe and sound. Thanks to the hand of God that had overshadowed her all the way, and to the prayers from all who knew and loved her, Emma is in spiritual and emotional recovery. The battle for her soul was won by the enemy but as the Holy Bible states, “this kind can go out by nothing, but by prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29) The devil may have won the battle for Emma’s soul but as God lives forever and ever, world without end, He will win the war.