I grew up in a household in which my entire family attended church every Sunday. My mother also enrolled my oldest sister and I in a Lutheran school, Prince of Peace Christian Day School, and enrolled my oldest brother in Villa Maria, a Catholic school in Lynchburg, Va many years later. From the age of seven, my mother made sure that I had my own Bible, learned about the books of the Bible, and learned to pray. At church, however, I was more asleep than attentive. All of my mother’s (my parents separated for the last time when I was seven) noteworthy actions, however, did not teach me about true Christianity and the love of Jesus Christ. Moreover, after the death of my father when I was eleven, my mother married a pastor. That action, unfortunately, had the effect of driving me further away from true Christianity. It was not until the age of twenty-one, that I was told that Jesus Christ was seeking a relationship with me. At that point I began to accept that Jesus was not just my savior, but that He could be lord of my life. I asked him to forgive me for all of the sins I had committed and I allowed him access to my heart (Romans 10: 9-10).
Shortly thereafter, I joined the Brooklyn Tabernacle where I was later rebaptized. I began methodically studying and praying daily. Yet, after many years, I felt that I was missing the “fervor” of serving Christ, and I desperately wanted to obtain it. The only way that I knew to get that fervor, was to pray and spend time in the presence of the Lord. I went on vacatation to Jamaica where I spent time at the beach before sunrise. I asked God to fill me with his spirit and to use me in ways that I had never experienced. I did this everyday for nearly a week. When I came back home, I knew that I had had a fresh encounter with the Holy Spirit. The best part of all of this was that I was able to pray for my mother and to ask God to intervene in her life. He answered my prayer.
After the newness of life, I began to experience intense difficulties physically, financially, and spiritually as I began sharing the word of God. During this time, I learned to trust in God for everything. I learned to have faith and to take God at his word. While working for myself, I saw God provide daily for my financial needs. I struggled in so many ways, yet I continued serving God and sacrificing my tithes to the Lord. During this time of intense difficulty, I also continued praying and studying the word of God. Often I cried because of all of the difficulty. I had multiple surgeries and car accidents, a cancer scare, barely enough money, no nearby biological family (I lived in Philadelphia), and mounting student loans. I brought children with emotional disturbance and with developmental delay into my home several times at God’s prompting (all done through fasting and prayer). As a result, I know what it’s like to be a single parent, to be physically ill, and to be poor. I wish that I could say that I was always pious during this time, but I made many mistakes. I knew, however, that I had to continually seek God for deliverance. Because of this “crucible”, I know that He answers prayer (James 5:16). I know that God works everything out according to the counsel of his own will (Ephesians 1:11). For about twenty-one consecutive years, I had intense difficulties. If it had not been for all of those difficulties, I would not have learned to have faith in Christ. I learned to trust that He would heal, provide, deliver, and guide me. I learned to trust in his word. As a result, I give my life in service to others. I encourage and try to meet the needs of others who are going through challenges. I am not the person that I would be without Christ in my life. I love Christ because He first loved me. I, therefore, strive to show the love of God to others because faith without works is dead (James 2: 14-26). God will continue to perform a work within me until He returns (Phillipians 1).
Come to Jesus with all of your failures, your disappointments, and your heartaches. He is waiting for you with open arms. He is the only one who satisfies. And if your life is great, still come.
Lord, I pray that you will intervene in the lives of those who do not know you. Be their burden bearer and show them boundless love.
For further reflection and meditation, read Romans 10 and James 2.