This week writing has been a challenge for me. I started three other pieces before this one in an attempt to go around the point God was directing me to write on. Usually I get what he wants me to write on then it just comes out. I revise a few times and it’s done. But when he told me to write about myself, I didn’t want to.I know anytime I don’t want to do something that’s when it’s a must.
We’ll breeze through the beginning with a quick synopsis. I was the product of teen pregnancy. I was attacked with illness and danger that almost took my life on more than one occasion. My grandma led me to the Lord and prayed with me to receive the baptism of the Holy Spirit with the evidence of speaking in tongues. This all happened by the time I was four years old, so I have been saved my whole life and raise in church.
Now we’ll jump ahead 15 years, where I was responsible for my own actions. I laid in the hospital bed, writhing in pain from the tiny specs of sunlight stabbing through the shades, so I asked my mom to fix it. When that problem was solved the room looked like the home of a paranoid agoraphobic and the pain in my head only reduced .o1 percent. The window stayed covered the first three days, but by the fourth and final day, my body was finally rehydrated and began healing from the severe kidney infection.
I ended up in the hospital because after four days of vomiting without retaining any fluids, and laying in a cool bath feeling like death, I made a deal with God. The only deal I have or will ever try to make because I was taught better than that. Up to this point I had been living the last couple years denying God. Claiming only that there must be a higher power. I told him that if he helped me in this dire situation that I would serve him. Well he did, and I did, for awhile at least. I never denied him again, but I did gradually slip back into the ways of the world. Drinking, drugging, partying. For years I claimed Jesus as my saviour and but not my Lord. I shared the gospel with people and told them, “Don’t look at my life as a Christian example because this is not how a Christian lives.” I couldn’t stand hypocrites so I didn’t want to be one of them and in whatever weird and convoluted way, I thought I was accomplishing that. I thought I was doing pretty good when I had gone 3 years without being arrested. So when it happened this last time, I was mad. I was mad for one, because I felt like I was too old to be getting in legal trouble (which doesn’t make sense, but that’s what I thought). And two, because the Holy Spirit physically stopped me in my tracks and told me not to get in my car.
Getting arrested for DUI (a second time) didn’t turn me to God. He did everything he could to help me avoid it. But it did put me in a place that made me tired of how I was living. I was in college at the time and my classes were proving more than I could handle, and I have NEVER experienced that in my life. I make straight A’s no matter what, so when in this semester I had to drop one class for lack of comprehension and ended with a C in another, I knew I was not on the best educational course for my life. God was directing me elsewhere.
The arrest happened in October of 2014. By January my court required classes and community service were in full swing and I was actively trying to determine my new college major. One route considered was event coordinating. I got a job shadowing a wedding coordinator for a local venue and that is the move that changed everything.
I worked the wedding of a young Christian couple (no coincidence there). As I watched family member after friend share about this couple and their sincere love, I was moved. Every person spoke of how the two of them had such a love for God, and that love for God was what drew them to love one another. They also shared about how impressively pure their dating relationship had been. I said to myself, “I want that.”
In those moments God’s love reached my heart and tears filled my eyes. It was a Saturday night and I was planning to spend the night with my mom. I called her right then and asked what time church was the next day. I wasn’t sure if I was going to find what I was looking for, but I figured it would at least be a good place to start.
The cool part is that I didn’t experience some spectacular encounter that first Sunday. I was simply given an invitation to do something. An invitation to set aside one interest of mine, something that didn’t add value to my life, and for 21 days, pray and read my Bible instead. I had a week to think about it. The following week I went back and my mom asked me if I would try it. That was January 2015 and I haven’t taken my eyes off Jesus since.
What was different this time were two things: The authentic love of Christ lived out by strangers is what drew me in, and I was given a charge to do something, not a correction to stop something.
My encouragement is to be the stranger in someone’s life by living in love. Be the answer to a mom’s prayer. Or provide someone searching with something to do, not a list of the things they need to stop.
When I started seeking God, all the things I was doing wrong melted away. I simply had no desire. My heart is filled with the love of God and that is the only thing I’ve ever experienced that satisfies every time.
“For the entire law is fulfilled in keeping this one command: “Love your neighbor as yourself.” Galatians 5:14