Growing up in the Bible Belt of the South, I don't ever remember not going to church as a child. At the age of six, in Birmingham, Alabama, I remember asking Jesus to come and live in my heart while at Briarwood Christian School. It was a very simple prayer, but with the faith of a child, I sincerely meant it. I wanted to be with this wonderful Jesus of the Bible and for Him to be with me. Looking back on my childhood and teen years, He was with me - like the time I screamed out to Him when my body got trapped under a floating pier loaded with people at the lake and I felt a supernatural peace come over me till I could find my way out from under the floating wood boards that where pushing me under every time someone, unaware, stood over where I was gasping for air between the slats. My walk with Him was real and wonderful, and I never felt alone.
My walk with Him was real and wonderful, and I never felt alone.
Right after accepting Christ, I remember knowing that I could always go to Him with anything and be sure that He was listening and cared. I always wanted a little brother and so I started to put in my request to the Lord. As a mother now, I often wondered what was going through my parent’s minds. I remember them just smiling and making funny facial expressions to me and each other for about seven years, as I prayed nightly for a baby brother. On Valentine’s Day of 1983, my little brother, Jimmy, was born. I was so excited that God had heard my prayers! There were many more answered prayer requests over the years to come where I felt God showing His intimate concern in my life.
In June of 1988, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer. She told me later, that the night before her outpatient biopsy, she had a vision of wing tips fluttering in front of her, as if she were being held in the arms of amazing love. She said she felt an enormous sense of peace. Things were quite different for all of us after her diagnosis and in the years to follow. In June of 1989, on a Friday night, she went home to be with the Lord. The day before she died she was the most peaceful I had ever seen anyone. She told me she was going home and not to worry. I knew deep down she was right. Honestly, I didn’t understand, but had heard of God turning tragedies into triumphs and that gave me hope during such a difficult and painful time.
She told me she was going home and not to worry.
In the summer of 1992, my dad and brother and I went to Africa, for three weeks, to visit my dad’s cousin, Larry, who was serving as a missionary in Kenya. It was a mind blowing adventure and I experienced things I will never forget. Most memorable was a three hour bouncy drive on unpaved roads to a small concrete church settled in a beautiful field. All of the sudden, it became like a spectacular movie scene. Villagers came dancing over the tops of the hills already worshipping the Lord in glorious singing surrounded in sunshine. They were worshipping God before they even stepped foot inside the church building, what a refreshing difference that was from how we worshipped! I remember the curious, cute children pointing and giggling at me, because of my red hair. It was the most amazing trip, and I saw God work in many ways.
Sadly, after witnessing so many wonderful things, I unexpectedly went down a treacherous path. It never felt like a conscious decision to walk away from the Lord. It happened very gradual, like a child who goes wandering around and then looks up only to realize that they have somehow gotten away from the parent they love and are filled with panic, sadness and despair.
It never felt like a conscious decision to walk away from the Lord.
I went from not attending church every Sunday, to just occasionally visiting and then to not going at all. I started seeing other Christians no longer as friends, but almost as enemies, that is if they dared to discuss anything that caused me to feel the least bit of conviction. Even spewed out recriminations at a dear friend who confronted me.
Found a new group of friends to spend the majority of my time with and to encourage me in my new ways. We had gotten into the habit of going out to clubs every night after work. Just like the song, it was a Slow Fade. At first, in those dark places I found excitement, but it wasn’t long before I found heartache, pain, loneliness, depression and despair.
Decided to move to Atlanta to pursue an acting career and thought this big step would surely bring about the happiness I desired. Even with some small successes, I still couldn't sustain a non depressed state of being. After dangerous experiments with drugs, alcohol and relationships, I attempted and thankfully failed at suicide.
I still couldn't sustain a non depressed state of being.
I then sought the help of two mental health professionals and was placed on 60mg of Prozac. That didn’t work either, because I was unable to feel any emotions. Any mirthfulness I might have occasionally enjoyed was now in a stupor. It seemed the more I tried to find happiness it just kept escaping my grasp. I languished in my depression and longed to feel free from mental torment. Before wandering away from the Lord, I was happy, content, peaceful and full of joy, but during this prodigal, dubious walk, my reality was just the opposite. Why was that? I was living for myself, pleasing myself and yet had never been more miserable in all my life!
One morning around 3 a.m., outside the Backstreet nightclub in Atlanta, I realized that I had lost a special silver earring with a flower embossment. I was walking around the parking lot, upset with the guy who I had gone partying with, who sat in my car while I searched a very unpleasant and dark area. I was in a miserable relationship with him, because I had grown co-dependent upon him for my happiness. I basically had turned him into a false god. Yet, there was no reciprocation. While searching, I felt this strange sensation and heard 2 voices, not audibly, but very strongly in my spirit. One was the voice of Jesus and the other was the voice of my mother. They both were saying at the same time, “Oh, how I want so much more for you than this” and the way I heard it, it was if their hearts were broken over my choices. I knew then that God had not left me, but I had walked away from Him. It was then that I knew I needed to repent, change and turn back to my Father.
“Oh, how I want so much more for you than this”
It was hard changing lifestyles overnight, but God led me to a job as a nanny in charge of four precious children, and I started visiting churches. The best part was I started talking with God again and asking for His direction, instead of leading myself. I started to then ask God for a husband who loved him as well. Funny how God works, because when I first met Scott, I felt he was the one. However, through further discussions, I came to realize that he did not regard Jesus as the Son of God, but as just a good person and teacher. I came under very strong conviction at this point to break off our engagement. I felt I was to pray and give the situation over to God and let Him deal with Scott. Click on this link, http://www.shofaroutreach.org/testimonies.html, to find out what happened.
If you have never seriously looked at the words of Jesus, I encourage you to decide who this man is. He can only be one of three things . . . a liar, a lunatic or the Son of the Living Most High God, creator of you and me. I tried living life my way and I’ve tried living it His way. I can testify that His way is the way, the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father without going through Jesus. The one who died for your sins and rose from the dead on the third day. Offering eternal life to those who put their faith and trust in Him. I love Luke chapter 15, because God speaks of the lost sheep, the lost coin and the lost son. I too was lost but now am found and am so thankful that we have a God that loves us! I placed the remaining earring (pictured above) on a chain and turned it into a necklace. Every time I see it, I am reminded of what was lost, what was salvaged and transformed into something even better.
Maybe you are a lost church girl or boy? You grew up knowing the Lord, but over time drifted away. Please run back to the Father! He is waiting for you with open arms.
He is waiting for you with open arms.
It is with love that I share this with you. I would like to thank my friends, Laura, Gianetta, Mrs. Glenos and Carla for their confrontation, taking me in, encouragement and rescue! I was in great spiritual distress, they noticed and said something about it. I will never forget to be thankful for their true love and friendship.
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. - Proverbs 27:6
Stay humble and be BOLD!
O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him.
Psalm 34:8 KJV
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