Leah slipped into the back pew of her parents' church. It was supposed to be hers, too, but she didn't go as a regular attender. She saw her brother come and sit with her parents. He didn't even say hello.
Worship began and the pastor called for prayer. In that moment, Leah had to make a choice. Either sin and supposedly "go to Hell" or repent and ask the Lord for forgiveness on her knees. She decided not to.
This wasn't even her church. Leah didn't care about religion. Maybe Lisetta sacrificed her life for Ms. Plante to see that, but she sure didn't believe. If God did something terrible like that to a sweet, innocent girl, He surely wouldn't forgive Leah. She disowned his name. She was a Peter. Her name was Peter Leah Plante and she didn't give a care worth a dime on her name. She didn't dwell on it, though. Because when she did, she felt a gentle tug on her heart. But, she wouldn't give way to the punishment of God.
The sermon was about Peter disowning God. Leah tuned the pastor out and flipped through the hymn book in front of her and stopped on a song. It was Jesus, Lover of my Soul. She read the song and the words stuck with her for the rest of the day.
She went home and ate dinner alone. She tried to lie down for a nap, but the lyrics tormented her mind. Jesus, lover of my soul. Jesus, I will never let you go. You've taken me from the miry clay. Set my feet upon solid rock, now I know. I love you, I need you. Though my world my fall, I will never leave you, no. My Savior, my closest friend. I will worship you until the very end.
What was God trying to tell her? He'd love her forever if she'd just accepted Him? She thought it was bull. She thought that was a lie. The Devil was talking right to her. He was destroying her life and she was letting Satan do it.
She fell asleep, crying, wishing she'd done the right thing. She wish she would've stepped up to the plate and said, Here I am! Kill me! I'll die for the Lord I no longer believe in!
When Leah got up the next morning, it was raining. Perfect weather to match her mood. She had to go teach and suffer through not seeing Lisetta.
A gentle breeze splashed raindrops onto her cheek and a verse hit her from the service she didn't listen to. This is love! It is not that we loved God but that He loved us. For God sent His Son to pay for our sins with His own blood.
Something stirred in her spirit, and she let her shoulders fall a few inches. She had a peace she couldn't understand. Despite the rain falling in her eyes, she lifted her head the the heavens and searched the dark clouds. Lord, what are you trying to tell me? This was Your love through this situation?
Now, she began to realize what this was. She was discovering how to love for real. She loved Lisetta. God was trying to do the same. The breeze that gently slapped her face was more than wind. It was a holy breeze of serenity, now that she was realizing God wasn't a god who was waiting in Heaven with a baseball bat. He was loving.
Leah climbed into her car and prayed it would start. To her advantage, it did. She turned on the radio. It was tuned to Decatur Hits, The Party. She turned it to the radio station she saw on the back of the car in front of her. The woman searched for 88.1, a Christian radio station named WBGL. The first song she heard was about true love. The deejays in studio said it was by JJ Heller. The title was "What Love Really Means."
She listened to the chorus. I will love you for you, not for what you have done or what you will become. I will love, you for you. I will give you the love. A love that you never knew.
Leah pulled into a gas station and began to bawl her eyes out. God really wanted to love her, forgive her of disowning Him. She prayed aloud, "Dear Father, forgive me! What have I done? I didn't give up my life and now a precious student of mine and a daughter of Yours is suffering. Love and heal her, God. That's all I ask of you! Please let me see her before Thanksgiving. I need to see your grace. Just hearing Your longing to love me is enough, but I want it sufficient! Let me see her so I can see You! Dear, Lord, give me strength! I don't feel I can walk through this anymore. Lisetta said she'd lead me through this! How? I need her to take me by the hand and sit by me in service, saying, 'You're going to make it! Come on, girl! Keep going!' I love her! I'm seeing Your love through her suffering. That's the way it's supposed to be. I'm sorry, God. Thank you for saving me. I ask all these things in Your Son's name, Amen."
She drove to work. Cassandra Reed, the Social Studies teacher, gave her a hug when she came in. "Have you been crying, amiga? I've been praying for you, little sis."
Leah nodded. "I was crying because of sweet relief. I'm a lot better this morning. Thanks, Cassandra."
The history teacher winked. "God always listens, even if we do think He's turned a deaf ear. Did you figure that out this morning?"
" Yeah, in a very bittersweet way. If you do pray for me, will you believe with me this will be one of the best Thursdays I've had?"Leah asked her friend. She decided it was time to start getting a support group together of other teachers who missed Lisetta Weiss dearly.
And the teachers' prayer was fulfilled. All Ms. Plante's students behaved and were quiet. She did have a good Thursday. After she went to the church office, her church office of Hosanna Church of the Living God, and repented with the pastor. Pastor Richard was very pleased with her, and God was, indeed.
Leah went to the library and got on the computer to check her email and Facebook. She searched for Lisetta in the search window and found the girl did have a Facebook page. The next moment, she got a notification, Lisetta accepted her friend request. For the first time in seven weeks, Leah genuinely smiled. She didn't stop smiling until she lay down to sleep. That night, Leah said her prayers. She did feel God's love for her and she was very grateful it was true.