hope for all the prodigals… and their people

There are some stories that are important. Because there are a lot of people and parents and families that feels hopeless and scared. Tindell Baldwin gets it. She was a girl who made a lot of mistakes. She was a girl who had sex before marriage and then had a broken heart. She was a girl who did drugs and drank to fill the void that was deep in her heart. She was a girl who was desperate to be popular. A girl who, like so many others, didn’t know the dark side of sin. I’ve sat with Tindell, looked into her eyes, and heard her story first hand — seen  her heart for teens to hear her story —  and flee to Christ. Her greatest desire is that God would be glorified above all else. It’s a grace to welcome the powerful, hopeful words of my friend, Tindell Baldwin, to the farm’s front porch today…

guest post by Tindell Baldwin

 

I spent five years running from God.

Five years pretending I knew better than God.

Five years believing that this world had something to offer me besides a broken down life.

Then at the most unlikely age of nineteen I found myself surrendered to His will and humbled by my desperate need for a savior.

I met with a mom recently who told me she just wanted to keep her daughter alive.

They weren’t fighting against a bad boyfriend, broken curfew, or one too many parties anymore.

They were fighting to save her life.

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She had already attempted to take her life twice when I met with her mother and they had two weeks until they were taking her daughter to inpatient treatment.

I listened heavy hearted to a woman that I can only describe as peaceful, hopeful even. She said she knew that God had already won the battle for her daughter’s soul and she was confident in the victory of the cross even though the current outcome of her circumstance looked dark.

My faith felt small and feeble as I slid my book across the table to her. I had signed the inside hoping my small gesture might give her mother hope. We talked, she prayed, and we thanked God for being bigger than our pain.

Then on the drive home I wept.

I wept for the mother whose daughter had lost her way and the many more like her, I wept for the tyranny of evil and the schemes of the devil, and I wept for this poor girl’s heart who so desperately needed truth and a savior.

I wept because I wanted to save her but I knew that wasn’t my job. This was why I wrote my story of my own running. These kinds of conversations and meetings breathed redemption into my broken past every time I got to look a mom in the eye and say with confidence, “it’s not in vain.”

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Galations 6:9

In this life sometimes it all feels in vain. It all feels broken and shattered and hopeless.

In this life we have thousands of conversations that feel mundane and we cry out to God with confusion and fear.

We wonder when the saving will come and we grow weary.

Before I got to know Jesus because my family walked for years down a road the felt like it might never end.

And they never gave up.

One thousand conversations and then one day it just all broke through like waters building at the edge of a dam.

Finally the truth came washing over me — but first there were the many drops of water.

 

GOOD FRIDAY… 10 years ago.

I promised my mom I would go with her to hear my brother at our church’s Good Friday service — as long as she would let me go to a party right afterward.

I was suddenly regretting that decision as we pulled up to the church. It was already 7 o’ clock and most of my friends would be drunk without me.

As we made our way into the candle filled sanctuary, something came over me like a wave of relief. I could almost feel God in this place. I quickly pushed it out of my mind; God had no place in my life.

The stage was set up in the middle of the sanctuary with chairs surrounding it. I saw my brother playing guitar by a wooden cross standing in the middle of the stage. We sat right in front of him, and I gave a tiny wave. He was the only reason I went to church, my pride in his talent outweighed my hatred of church.

Then he started to sing, and I tried to ignore the words as they washed over me.

Jesus paid it all

All to him I owe

Sin had left a crimson stain,

He washed it white as snow.

I couldn’t help but wonder if He, Jesus, could really wash my sin away. I knew my sin was more of a black cloak than a crimson stain, but for a second… I wondered. Slowly a battle of questions began in my head.

Could Jesus set me free?

Could He take this broken heart and fill it?

Could He forgive the horrible things I had done to my friends and family?

What about drinking?

Well, I have to drink —  I don’t know how to be fun without it — and I’m in love, or am I?

More words I try to ignore, “Oh praise the one who paid my debt, and raised this life up from the dead.

I knew I had a debt that I knew. I knew I had too much sin for one man to take on. I needed my own cross. I needed my own Jesus — and I told myself Jesus could never help me.

I tried to stay strong and keep my thoughts on what I was doing after this but for some reason the tiny voice I had been trying so hard to destroy came to life.

My heart began to quicken and I could almost feel forgiveness —  I just had to ask. I didn’t want it though, I wasn’t ready to change so instead I let the tears fill my eyes and overflow down my cheeks.

I cried for my broken heart and for the shame of my sins.

I cried because I knew I needed Jesus —  but I wasn’t ready to give it up.

I cried because I wanted to stay in this place forever, sheltered from the pain of the outside world, sheltered from yesterday’s broken promises and tomorrows failure.

I cried because I wasn’t strong enough to make the right choice.

My mom reached her hand over and placed it in mine, a quiet reminder that she was there for me. I knew she was.

I knew that one day I would cry because God had redeemed me. I knew one day we might be great friends. There were many times like this, tiny things that made me remember that God wasn’t done with me yet.

A few years later I would sit at the edge of a different cross on a different day and beg for forgiveness and salvation — but it wasn’t that day.

Oh, I want the easy fix for everyone —  maybe even my own daughter someday.

How I want God to swoop in with His bag of gifts and fix the pain of all the mothers who have daughters who have wept tears and cried out in pain.

But what I want more is a God not made in human likeness with human frailties, what I want more is a God I can depend on because He makes all things new.

I want the God of redemption and grace.

I want the God who choose me when He put His Son on a cross to bear the weight of my sin.

So I will continue to tell mothers and daughters that it is not in vain.

I will continue to believe that the God who in His perfect timing saved my mess of a life for His glory —

will not forsake you in the midst of your pain because one drop at a time the water will rise….

And truth will rush over the hearts of the lost.

 

 

Tindell Baldwin has a heart for teenagers and mothers & she uses her story, Popular: Boys, Booze, and Jesus,  to bring teenagers back to the foot of the Cross and give mothers hope in some of the hardest days they might walk.  She’s volunteered in youth ministry in Atlanta for almost four years and has had the opportunity to speak to thousands of teenagers over the course of her journey. Her greatest joy is getting to see redemption from her broken past. Tindell lives in Marietta, GA with her amazing husband of almost six years and two babies, Claire and Briggs.

Highly recommending Popular: Boys, Booze, and Jesus, a helpful needed read for many praying mamas and their beautiful daughters.

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