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“Wait on the Lord”

wait“Wait on the Lord: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the Lord.” Psalms 27:14 KJV

This scripture ran through my head constantly as I approached the end of my undergraduate career.

College wasn’t the easiest thing I have ever dealt with and certainly not the hardest. But, at the peak of a grueling 18-hour course load and a 100-page thesis I was conducting, I was glad the end was finally near.

This was the moment I had waited for and worked towards for 4.5 years, my entire adulthood. I had an assurance in my heart that the months following graduation would be some of my highest yet.

I felt as though I could dream again, outside the confines of a four-walled classroom, and overbearing course work. I thought to myself the sky is the limit, and quotes from the book, “Oh the Places You’ll Go,” danced in my head.

“Congratulations!

Today is your day.

You’re off to Great Places!

You’re off and away!”

After graduation, I started my search for a job. Nothing suited my fancy, so I continued to work at the job I had throughout college until I figured things out.

At one time, I had all these plans for my life, “maybe I would be a missionary in Uganda, maybe a bestselling author, or a stay at home mom,” I would think to myself.

As months, post-graduation passed, those plans or wishful thoughts became a distant memory. I felt lost, I felt as though I had no passion, and I had no clue where I was headed.

I figured maybe I had made the wrong decision to get a degree in Communication, and that maybe I would be better suited to be a teacher. Writing and being surrounded by children had always been some of my biggest passions.

I searched the Internet through and through on different ways to become a teacher without having a degree in Education. I was in luck there was a program that allowed individuals that had a Bachelor’s degree to become a certified teacher in Louisiana within a short time span.

I figured I could work at a local preschool while I worked towards my certification in education.

When I landed a job at a local pre-school I was ecstatic to pour into the lives of little ones and discover more about the education field.

My first day was grueling, I found myself sitting in my car crying out to God saying, “why, why, God, this is not what I planned at all.” In that moment, I heard a still small voice say, “allow this to make you better, and not bitter.”

I wiped my tears and figured if this is meant to make me better it’ll sure feel better than it does today.

WRONG.

I committed to working at the pre-school for a year. Firstly, because I had no idea where I was going, but certainly not in education. Secondly, because I hated the way job hopping looked on a résumé. And lastly, I was curious to find out how God would make me better in this situation.

You see I had forgotten the other lines in the book that read:

“I’m sorry to say so

but, sadly, it’s true

that Bang-ups

and Hang-ups

can happen to you.”

Geez, if only I had remembered that sooner.

In a world with drive thru restaurants and instant gratification at its finger tips patience can be a character quality that majority of people have struggled with at one time or another.

Either I could run from the what God wanted to do in my heart or I could dive in head first. God had been in the business of making me patient for years. Time and time again I would resist and yet again He would have to rein me in and tell me to be patient.

This time I figured I wasn’t going to get anywhere unless, I finally surrendered and let God teach me the virtue patience.

Patience is the power or capacity to endure without complaint in something difficult or disagreeable; forbearance, long suffering.

There’s a saying “nothing in the world worth having comes easy.”

And patience, though worth having it certainly does not come easy.

“Delight yourself in the Lord and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalms 37:4 ESV

When we have desires inside of us that line up with scripture and do not go away with time, most likely that desire is there to stay.

Whether it be a desire for a career, a spouse, ministry, children, or freedom from an illness; we as people can at times grow weary when we do not get the desires of our heart in the timeframe we see fit.

When we place a desire on the Lord with a time line we can hinder God’s blessings. We figure if he didn’t do it, he won’t ever do it. That is a lie from Satan. Never in scripture does God say, “pray and if I don’t answer feel free to figure things out on your own.”

We have a God that loves us and desires to provide what our heart’s desire. But, our God is holy and he knows what we need, how we need it, and most importantly when we need it.

The Bible does say,

 “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Proverbs 3:5 NIV

Maybe you have a desire today. Maybe you have prayed year after year with nothing insight to give you hope in that desire.

Know that God is much bigger than any desire you have, trust him. And remember in the time of waiting to allow Him to make you better and do not grow bitter.

wait2

 

 

Now.

It’s been nine years now since I gave my life to Christ. These years have been great, they have not only come with triumphs, but trials as well.

I wish I could tell you that I’ve never had a depressed thought again, that I’ve never questioned God’s love for me, and that I’ve trusted God in every area of my life, but that would be false.

Matthew 5:45 NKJV says,

“… For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.”

You see life is hard for the believer and the unbeliever. The only difference with a believer is that they don’t walk through this roller coaster we call life alone.

In high school my relationship with God was filled with mostly triumphs. I had trials, but all failed into comparison to the new found peace I found in Christ.

When college started, I found myself miles away from my best friend and without a church home. Life was so uncertain. Life as I once knew it was changing again. Real life was beginning, and real life is where our faith can be truly tested.

I was no longer with all the people I grew up with. I had new found independence from my parents and was surrounded by all types of people from different backgrounds.  When I finally found a new church home, I felt welcomed, but so alone. I didn’t have the familiarity of my other church friends, leaders, or pastors. While I smiled at the new church, I was silently falling back into depression and isolating myself from others.

I would leave church service early and go to a local park and cry. From my childhood, I had always dealt a bit with rejection. That spirit of rejection began to magnify when I isolated myself and began to listen to the lies Satan whispered in my ear.

“They don’t like you.”

“You’re weird.”

“You’ll never fit in.”

“You’re all alone.”

I began to cry out to God. I began to say those very lies to God.

I would say,

“Jesus I feel so alone.”

“Why isn’t my family here with me?”

“I don’t fit in here.”

“Nobody loves me.”

To those lies, He would respond in truth.

“You are not alone.”

“You are loved.”

“I am here with you.”

When the Holy Spirit would whisper that truth to me, I found comfort and peace in His words. As I began to stand on the truth of the Holy Spirit, the word of God got louder, and the lies from Satan began to silence.

That is one example of a trial I endured and walked through. Some trials in my life have been smaller than this one, but most much larger. However,the size of the trial fails in comparison to the size of my God.

I have since graduated college and continue to attend that same church. The same church that I once felt so alone in, I can now call the people there my family. My mother has given her life to Christ, and I have since seen God do great things in and around my life.

I am not defined by the trials I have walked through. By walking with Christ, my trials do not overtake me. I overtake my trials by walking through them with Christ guiding my every step.

Psalm 119:105 NKJV

“Your word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path.”

walk-with-me

Who?

In the months after I gave my life to Christ, I began to experience true love. I always thought going to church and being a good person would ensure a personal ticket to Heaven. But, through my experience of salvation I realized that was not the case.

I began to delve deep into the Bible. I had the same Bible since I was nine years-old. It was hot pink with florets all over the cover. The title page read, “Teen edition NIV version.” I didn’t know if this Bible was like the all the other Bibles. I figured it was what I had and I might as well read it.

I was super excited to learn about the Bible which had just been collecting dust on my bookshelf for years. I opened and dived right into the book of Genesis. This book was familiar, I read these familiar stories as a child in a children’s Bible. As I continued to read I discovered all the different books in the Bible and different sections.

After reading Genesis I began reading the book of Matthew. This was the first book in the Bible that really jumped off the pages to me. The book details the descendants of Christ, His birth, His life, His death, and His resurrection. Like I previously said, I didn’t have much knowledge of Jesus before becoming a Christian.

In movies and pictures, I had seen prior to this, Jesus was always a man with a skinny frame and long dark hair- far from a picture of strength and a depiction of what a man who would save the world would look like.

The gospel of Matthew painted a much different picture of Christ in my mind. The man Matthew described was a man of strength and dignity. He was a man of miracles that changed the atmosphere when he entered it. I remember feeling in the moment that I had never heard of a life that displayed love so perfectly.

When I entered my second year of high school the person I had always been had changed. And man did others change. Instead of just talking about guys between the ooing and ahing my peers began to experiment with the opposite sex and tell me all they were experiencing.

At age 14, I longed to be loved and craved attention. But, deep down something just told me boys weren’t the answer. Something told me that wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. I thought sex was about love, but even at that young age I knew what I was hearing didn’t sound like love.

I began to dive deeper into my new faith found in Jesus. James 4:8 ESV says,

“Come close to God, and God will come close to you. Wash your hands, you sinners; purify your hearts, for your loyalty is divided between God and the world.”

I would lie in my bed and pray. I would ask the Lord what his likes and dislikes were about me. I would read His word for affirmation and revelation of how I should be living my life. He filled every longing and every craving I had for attention and experiences other people were having.

Jesus is a personal God. Not a God you should hide from. A God you should run to. While this world is beautiful and offers nice things, I have found it all falls empty in comparison to the love and freedom I have experienced in Christ.

My prayer is through my experiences and revelations written on this blog people will be encouraged to simply give that “Jesus thing” a try. I did and I’ve been forever changed.

Romans 5:8 ESV

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

praying

Where?

After my cousin passed away, I thought about death a lot. And eventually I began to have a repetitive dream of my own funeral. For a suicidal teen, the dreams were somewhat satisfying to me, as morbid as that sounds. I began to tell my best friend that I thought I was going to die soon because of the dreams I was having.

Around that time I began visiting a local church’s youth group as well as a weekly Bible study. I mostly went because I enjoyed getting out of the house and spending time with friends. At the time, I thought simply believing in a god or deity made a person a Christian.

I believed in God my creator. I read all the children’s Bibles as a child – at least, the first few chapters about creation. I knew about the God who created the Heavens and the Earth and the God who created Adam and Eve, but anything past that I had no knowledge of.

I had heard of the name Jesus and that He was the son of God. I took that information at face value and I guess I believed it, but that still didn’t mean much to me.

The summer after my freshman year of high school finally arrived, and the church I had been attending was having a youth camp that June. I wanted one thing that summer, and it was change. I wanted to be different and to feel different than I was. I didn’t want to feel depressed and have a cloud of shame and guilt floating over me. I didn’t know if that was possible or if it would happen, but I hoped.

On my way to the youth camp, as I rode with my best friend and Bible study teacher, I began to tell them about the dreams I had been having. I told them I thought the dreams were weird, and that I thought I would die soon.

My small group leader’s response baffled me. Instead of playing along with my morbid view of my dream, she instead believed the dream was symbolic and that the dream represented my old self dying and my new self being born. I had no idea what that meant, but her response somehow gave me the assurance I needed.

On the first night of camp, we were shown clips of The Passion of the Christ. In the clips, men beat Jesus beyond recognition. They continuously yelled at him and showed no empathy for the pain inflicted upon him. Before this moment, I did not know anything about what Jesus had done on the cross or what His blood represented. I suddenly began to weep like never before. Goosebumps filled my arms and legs, and the blinders finally fell off my eyes.

In that moment, I experienced peace for the first time. After the clips, the pastor gave a quick message about salvation. He told us Jesus died on the cross and took the punishment for all our sin. And that He did this so we could all be forgiven of our sin and have eternal life in Heaven with Him.

That night, light shined on the emptiness I had held onto for years. I realized I no longer had to live a life full of depression and rebellion. When the pastor gave an invitation to receive Christ as Savior and Lord, I didn’t just walk. I ran to the altar.

It was in that moment I realized life is worth living. There is life after death, that Heaven and Hell were no longer things I read about in a story book or just places I heard about, but they were real. And I now knew through Jesus I could have eternal life in Heaven.

Romans 5:6-8 ESV

“For while we were still weak, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. For one will scarcely die for a righteous person— though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die—but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.”

 

Why?

Often times the who’s, the what’s, and the how’s of life can be pondering questions in our souls. For me the question was, why? Why do trees exist?  Why are people here? Why do people die? Why are people here in the first place? But, most of all why am I here?

These “why” questions clouded my fourteen-year-old mind. I thought to myself, “I don’t want to be here, I have no reason to live, what’s the point of all of this, why am I even here?”

On the outside, I had everything going for me. I had great friends and supportive parents. I was talented and pretty, and I appeared seemingly cheerful on the outside. But, on the inside I was breaking, constantly pondering suicide and a way out from this world.

At this time in my life everything was changing. I had just started high school, and the course work got heavier and harder. I was in school with 18-year-old guys who were “pursuing me” and suggesting anything other than gentlemen like behavior.  People dressed differently and spoke differently.

On the outside I was just like my peers. I wore the tight shirts and short skirts. I yelled and spoke the profanity, spitting them out at any time I had the chance. I also gloated at the attention I received from boys.

You see my entire life I had been teased for not acting “black enough”. From the ages 12 to 14, I made it my mission to become black enough. I thought to myself, “I just want to be able to hangout with the black kids, and fit in.”

For some reason the color of my skin wasn’t enough for the ones who teased me. I figured being loud, disrespectful, and obnoxious is what they want. And if that’s what I have to do to fit in, I’ll do it.

But, on the inside I felt as though I was dying and suffocating in the pain of trying to fit in and trying to be a rebellious teenager. At fourteen, the persona I was playing was cracking. I didn’t like being angry all the time. I didn’t like tight clothes. I didn’t want to use profanity. I didn’t want to talk to guys who didn’t have the right intentions.

Fourteen was the first time I truly grasped death at least in a carnal way. I had experienced death of grandparents in the past, but I just didn’t quite get it. It wasn’t until six people within nine months passed away in my family, the last being my fifteen-year-old cousin who I went through virtually every grade with. I was in complete disbelief that a person the same age as me could seemingly be fine in the morning and just be gone that same day in the afternoon.

On top of all the self-hate I had inside my heart towards myself, everything was falling apart. I didn’t understand why everyone was dying and wished I could fix it.

Once the fact that my cousin had passed away began to set in, my question stopped being, “why”, but “where?” Where did Jordan go? Did he go to Heaven? Did he go to Hell? Was any of that really real? I always thought I believed in those places, but it wasn’t until this loss in my family that those places became a reality to me.