In July 2016, I picked up a book my mother had gifted me years prior for Christmas. I shelved the book with the intention of reading it later. Later turned to forgotten. But seeing it after camp, a spiritually revitalizing summer experience, I decided to read it. Two days later, book complete, my eyes were refocused on Jesus. I had a newfound desire for something I had always thought would just be a struggle.
I continually longed for a personal relationship with God, but could never figure out how to attain it. My parents encouraged me to keep a prayer journal but I could never seem to write more than three consecutive entries before getting "too busy."
My pastor spoke about how life-changing the Bible is, but I always found my eyes drooping and head nodding when I tried to read during my early devotional time.
How could this personal predicament be solved?
Jesus should be enough motivation, but there was a disconnect between my heart and head. My heart wanted Jesus; my head just didn't understand how to make that happen.
Then I read “Rachel's Tears.” Not only did my heart change, but my head screamed YES!
Written by Darrell Scott and Beth Nimmo, the book begins by describing the tragic story of the young people involved in the Columbine shooting. The key to this book is the highlighted parent experience: the loss of a precious daughter, Rachel Joy.
They describe their own pain in coming to the realization that she was truly gone.
Though Rachel’s parents are amazing to share their vulnerabilities, what makes the book so touching is the real relationship Rachel experienced with her best friend, Jesus. In the time after the tragic incident at Columbine, Scott and Nimmo began reading Rachel's writings, which included anything from loose pages, poems, and tributes in her journals where she kept her most intimate thoughts and prayers.
Though both her parents knew Rachel had a strong relationship with God, they didn't realize the extent. Her fearful respect of her Savior, thoughtful longing and transparent vulnerability with Jesus is what helped her to "walk the talk."
She wrote letters to Him and deeply longed for understanding. She relished the time she spent with Him. Rachel wasn't perfect. She was aware of her flaws and voiced them to her Savior. She lived an intentional life and knew that Earth was not her final stop. Her parents commented, "Rachel... used to talk about how [she] wanted to live as the apostle Paul did—on the edge with total dependence on God" (pg 135).
Her relationship with God, the light she showed to everyone she came in contact with and her unconditional love for people facilitated a return of joy and peace felt in her presence.
After her passing, her brother Craig shared, "A characteristic I remember about Rachel was that her love for people was less conditional than anyone I knew of her age or in the school. It didn't matter what you looked like or who your friends were. Another thing I liked and respected so much was that she made it clear for herself and other what her beliefs were" (pg 136).
Rachel knew where she was going and was secure in her decision to follow Christ. In a journal entry she wrote, "I know that I have to reach beyond this world for true safety and security because I won't be getting what I need here. True security lies in heaven, where things can't be touched by evil and can't be destroyed" (pg 134).
She walked, talked and lived her relationship with Jesus. Her personal connection with Him enabled her to share His love with anyone because she possessed it!
Now, months after reading her precious love story with her Savior, I hope to start possessing this same passion and fire for my Savior. Her example of Jesus led me to seek Him out more fully and I hope it can lead you to the same.
Kasondra Reel is a junior guest writer studying nursing.