“For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life. For God sent not His Son into the world to condemn, the world; but that the world through Him might be saved. He that believeth on Him is not condemned; but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God. And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil. For everyone one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lets his deeds should be reproved.” John 3:16-20
Our weekly Christian devotional
“Would you like a dance?” I lean over, tilting my chest in the most flattering angle possible.
My question wasn’t really a question, because I knew the answer would most likely be a “Yes.”
I’m not saying that to brag, I’m only saying it because it was the honest truth. You see, hearing that “Yes” was the reason I gravitated towards the Strip Club in the first place. Because for most of my life I was used to hearing:
“No. You can’t do that.”
“You aren’t capable. You’re not smart enough.”
“You’re not pretty enough, tall enough…fill in the blank enough…”
In high school, I never found my strengths; I was too busy hammering out my weaknesses. When I went away to college, this only led to extreme angst as I floundered to hurry up and discover who I was and what career I needed to commit my life’s mission to. I was completely clueless of how to map out my path or how I was going to finance this expensive endeavor called University.
One day a sweet looking girl on campus invited me to join her for a weekend in the city. She danced at a strip club and wanted some company during the long ride.
“I bet you would rake in the dough!”
Desperately strapped for cash, those words were all I needed to hear. I ignored every instinct to say no and decided right then to join her.
That first night of dancing felt magical. It was as if the dam to all my dreams gloriously broke through. For the first time it felt like anything might truly be possible for me. I didn’t have to be an Einstein; these men had no interest in my GPA. I didn’t need to be tall, eight-inch heels that took care of that issue. I didn’t even have to look perfect, because the club lighting was flattering on everyone.
When I heard strangers cheering for me, the insecurity I felt from not finding my way in school seemed to melt away. Power surged from my legs all the way up to my head–Finally! I found something I was good at. After seeing wads of cash being tossed at my feet, suddenly this insecure college student was being worshipped like the goddess she never knew she was. Heady and drunk off my newfound ‘talent’, I tucked over five hundred dollars in my bra that first night. For the first time in months, I slept like a baby.
Life was starting to look brighter for me. Getting my bills paid was no longer a concern. But…staying up for class now became the major issue. And, it didn’t take too long before I eventually quit school.
This job isolated me from all the people who only wanted the best for me. But, my heart didn’t want to care. I was too consumed with my own goals, my own dreams and—myself. Anything other than that was simply pushed aside, to think about…later.
Whenever I glanced at my reflection, I hated the person looking back. I never imagined my life would be so cynical and self-serving. Because dancing wasn’t very secure or stable, I worked as much as I could. I knew as soon as the passing of time could be seen on my face or body, my value would quickly depreciate. Every dancer had an expiration date; nobody escaped this cold, hard reality. The longer I danced, the more this truth haunted me; I began struggling to sleep through the night.
All I thought about was how much money I was making and what I was going to do with it—for myself of course! My life was all about feeling good in that immediate moment; I lived from moment to moment.
The sad part was, I wasn’t always this way. When I was a young girl, I dreamed about making a difference, reaching out, helping and encouraging others. But, now that dream seemed like an unrealistic fairytale, especially in this dog-eat-dog world of ‘get what you can’ for yourself. Stripping had opened my eyes. It made me see the worst in people–especially myself.
“Is this all there is to life?” That question continually rolled across my mind like a taped recording…
“Is this all there is to me?” Was another.
Life had become a meaningless existence. I had a million great excuses of why I ended up at the strip club, but none of them satisfied my soul. Deep down, I felt the stirrings of wanting more…wanting better…but not knowing how to get there…
Throughout those turbulent years I danced (from age 19-33) my mother continually prayed for me. She said, “When you feel hopeless, just call out to God. He speaks through His book.” She handed me a Bible. I didn’t want to break her heart any more than I already had, so I just took it. That poor Bible sat on my bookshelf untouched for over a decade.
One night I was so desperate, I actually opened it. In it, I learned that Jesus lived a perfect life—yet He hung on the cross like the worst kind of criminal. Because He was sinless, His blood had the power to pay for all of my sins; all I had to do was receive His priceless payment.
Hearing this made me reflect on my own life of selfish choices. Jesus endured all that pain, humiliation and suffering so I could enter into a relationship with God. I couldn’t believe He actually went through all of that for someone as selfish as me.
Jesus didn’t get what He deserved.
Why would God allow His only Son to go through with it? I believe we all know that the truest form of love always shows itself through deep sacrifice. What Jesus did was show God’s love for humanity in a very tangible way. He demonstrated God’s great love, grace, and forgiveness because He wanted every one of us to enjoy intimacy with Him. Our sin got in the way of that.
I began to realize that Jesus’ unconditional love and acceptance was exactly what my heart had been longing for this whole time! So, I took that leap of faith. I asked Jesus into my heart.
Just so you know, my life didn’t instantly get better. But, for the first time, I knew I wasn’t alone. Someone wiser than me was helping me guide my decisions. Slowly, I let down my guard and began trusting God. And somehow, God always came through.
No, God didn’t bless me with the latest Louis Vuitton, give me a diamond pendant or plunk down a chunk of cash like some of my best customers. He actually did much better than that. He gave me the power to overcome the ‘stuff’ that had me strutting into the strip club in the first place.
After opening my heart to Him, I began to see myself as valuable and that gave me enough strength to eventually leave dancing and discover my true gifts and calling.
Are you sick of feeling that empty hole in your heart? Are you ready to live for something real? Despite what you’ve probably told yourself, there really is more to life.
God loves you so much, and believe it or not—He doesn’t hate you and He isn’t even angry with you! God has only been waiting for you to be ‘done’ with yourself. Open your heart and let Him in. Discover what your life can become when you work with the God of the universe, not against Him.
“Dear Heavenly Father,
I’ve messed up so bad that I can’t see my way out. I’ve blamed others–even you for the way my life has turned out. I repent for turning my heart against you, Lord.
I’m tired of trying to fake it. I really need your help.
That’s why I’m asking Jesus into my heart. Your word says that His blood has the power to cleanse me from my sins away and wash me clean of all my guilt and shame. Jesus died to save me from my sins and show me a better way. I accept and receive this amazing gift, Lord.
Jesus overcame sin and death. He alone has power over the enemy of my soul.
Lord, heal me from the wounds that were inflicted on my heart by others and myself. Help me to forgive past hurts and just let them go.
Show me the next steps I need to take. I give my life to you. I don’t know what to do, but your wisdom now resides on the inside of me and with all my heart, I want to trust you. Help me to do just that.
I’ll obey your lead and commit to reading your book. It’s the tool I need to hear your voice and learn your ways. In Jesus’ precious name I am free, Amen.”
Thank you for reading our weekly Christian devotional on verses: John 3:16-20
Please check back and see what we have for you next week!
Author: Julia Shalom Jordan
*Get a New Testament and start reading the book of John, it will show you what Jesus was all about.
*The photos in this devotional (with exception of the martini picture) were taken during the years Julia danced and worked as a bikini model.