From the rocking of the cradle, I want what I want when I want it. I was born desiring the finer things in life. I came from a very modest beginning, but my desires were always above my means. Although, I didn’t always get everything, I was always given close to what I wanted. I believed my nine siblings wore a much heavier burden, but by the time I came along (the last of the clan), I believed the “no’s, we can’t afford it, I don’t have it, and I have bills to pay” had worn them out, therefore, I didn’t hear as much of that.
I had found love in things. I had found happiness in things. I didn’t really know what it was like to be denied. Recall, I didn’t have a lot growing up, but what I needed, I got it. As life passed, I became more aware of the increasing price tags. It seemed the more I saw, I wanted. I believed I deserved it because once again I was not used to being denied. I went from living at my mother’s house to being married to a man who I knew would do anything to make me happy, as I would him.
We had our lives mapped out. The great American dream of a beautiful house, cars, and children. It seemed the more I got, the more I desired. Why? Because I believed I deserved it, and it made me happy, and everybody wants happiness.
A few years into marriage, I had it all. I had all I ever wanted; I was happy. Life couldn’t get any better. We had always planned for me to be a “stay at home” mom. Our kids was in private school. We had multiple incomes. We had the perfect marriage. I couldn’t ask for anything more.
As years passed, I had become more involved in church. In my mind, I didn’t see my husband as my sole provider due to me being saved, sanctified, holy ghost filled, and running for my life. We didn’t just send our children to Sunday School and church, we took them. Our kids were actively involved in church, and my husband and I were actively involved in church. I had served on many boards in the church. I served on the usher board. I served on the missionary board. I was president of the youth department. I taught Sunday School. I didn’t miss a meeting at all. I was away most of the Saturdays from town to the next town, attending meetings. It was if I was on call for duties of the church because there were always something I was doing in the church. I was happy naturally and spiritually based on my understanding. My claimed were, “God, you are first and foremost in my life. I put no one before you. You are my God. Where would I be without you?”
I dare not miss a Sunday from church or from doing church works. I couldn’t bear being late. I had to be on time. His blessings were driving my faithfulness so much, that I had stop riding in the same car with my husband to church because how dear he made me late for church. God had done too much for us; so, how could I casually push His door? He’d done too much. He was the most important person in my life. If anything needed to be done from shopping for the church, to organizing an event for the church, “Oooohhh call me, I will get it done.” It was the least I could do for all He’d done for me. I was humbled to serve because of how He’d bless me. His blessings were driving me to work. The more He did for me, the more I wanted to work for Him. Yes, because after all, I had a big house. I had a “mommy vehicle” to transport my kids to and from school. They were in the best private schools. I had gone from a carat to carats, house to houses, car to cars, housewife to maid service, coach to Fendi, Louis Vuitton to Chanel, etcetera. How dare I not work for all He’d done for me.
I was “in church”, but I didn’t realize I had made things my God. I was thinking, “No, that couldn’t be because He was first in my life and there was none like Him.” I didn’t know where I would be without Him. I proved it to Him by my faithfulness in works.
He proved He wasn’t, because all around me things began to fall. My marriage became shaken. Our possessions were threatened. My children’s education were threatened. Bills were falling behind. My world was crumbling. I couldn’t understand what had happened. I was doing everything that I was doing before, so how could this be? After forty odd years, I am now faced with “no’ but how could this be? Everything is perfect. My husband had a great job. I pondered about trying to make sense of it all, and I couldn’t come up with a logical reason for this happening. We were on top of everything. I was on top of everything. I made sure all of my bills were paid and on a timely manner. I didn’t know how to handle it. The more things began to fall, the more I fell with it.
It was a Spring Friday evening when I was in my room crying. I was crying because of what was going on around me. I was alone in my room, and the more I cried, the dimmer things appeared. Then suddenly, it was as if I was joined by two others. One was trying to kill me, and one was there to save me. I had a choice. One voice offered immediate relief from what I was facing by saying, “End it all Lennie. What more do you have to live for? Your marriage is falling apart. Your kids can’t go back to school. You are losing your properties. Go on, and end it all. You have nothing more to live for.” The more the voice spoke the more I cried because I felt that was the best thing for me. I had finally felt some relief. I was just about convince because then I wouldn’t have to worry about what people would say. How was I going to explain this to my children? This happens in other people’s marriage, not mine. This is not supposed to happen to Lennie, not Lennie. Nevertheless, just as I was about to put my thoughts into action, I saw a flicker of light in my room. I heard His voice as it spoke life into me, “Lennie, my grace is sufficient for you Lennie.” I thought, “Your grace is sufficient?” I had heard that before, but I didn’t know what it meant for me at the time. How is His grace enough, but I trusted even in ignorance of what had been spoken. I got up from where I was and trusted that His grace was enough. I didn’t know how as I know it today, but I trusted His voice that whatever it meant, it was enough.
I trusted enough to make the decision to live. I came to know that the love of things had become first in my life. I had fallen in love with what God could do for me. I only saw Him as greater giver than my mother and my husband.
I was brought up in church, and by this time, I was nineteen years into my marriage and “in church”. However, I didn’t know about His grace. I was taught that grace is unmerited favors, but I still didn’t know. The word had not come alive in me. I could recite it. I guess you could say I didn’t know it as the bible states, “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God.” I needed it as Isaiah taught, “precepts upon precepts, line upon line.”
Shortly after this, I accepted my call to preach. It wasn’t something I wanted to do, but there was still that feeling of gratitude for what He’d done. Yet, this time it was because He had given me life by those few words He had spoken, “My grace is sufficient.” He had stepped in just in time. I began to minister but there were so many missing pieces. I didn’t feel complete. God would use me to minister, but each time I felt a yearning that there’s more. When I came to church, I would praise Him. I would dance, but I was never satisfied. I always felt a void. I started asking Him, “There has to be more than this?” I was eating, but I was still hungry. I couldn’t satisfy the satiety, and I couldn’t understand what was going on.
It wasn’t until He spoke, and said that I had to leave from where I was, so that I could be taught. Not taught in the sense as if I wasn’t under teaching. Teaching comes from the word, but sometimes we have to also be disciplined in the word. In order for the word to come alive in us we have to sometime walk the word by experience. The Hebrews boys said it best according to their trials, “If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the furnace of blazing fire; and He will deliver us out of your hand, O king. But even if He does not, let it be known to you, O king, that we are not going to serve your gods or worship the golden image that you have set up.”
Like valuing my mother for all she had done and my husband for another all he has given, I saw God the same way. I have come to know Him in a greater way past things. I see Him now as God. I can say now that if I lose everything in life so long as I have Him, I will be alright. I have come to realize that we have to love Him above everything. You can’t know true happiness in Him until you see Him pass things. He had to remove everything that I found assurance in and the things that I depended on so that I could see Him and only Him. I had allow things to cloud Him out. It’s easy to say that He’s first when you are surrounded by a lot, but I didn’t know Him and couldn’t see Him until it was just Him and I. Now I can say that He’s first in my life. The words that He spoke to me in my lowest place: “my grace is sufficient for you Lennie.” Yes, His grace is enough; if I don’t have all the things, His grace is enough. It is sufficient. It is more than all the things of this world. I can say today that He means all the world to me.
I believed it is best explained in 1 Corinthians 3. God will strategically place people in our lives to do a work, but ultimately He completes the work. When a seed is planted it requires watering. I will take it a bit further even during the watering process, the plant has to be cared for from weeds and parasites devouring it, before it is mature enough to stand on its own.
I was in a place where I had been planted in an immature state. Nevertheless, I would have either killed myself spiritually or the sheep. I saw myself as a babe who had been given a loaded gun without a safety lock. I needed discipline. I needed watering. I needed to be cut, trimmed and pruned.
Moreover, I rejoice in the affliction. I dance in the words of the psalmist, “It was good that I have been afflicted that I might learn thy statues.” What I had to submit to, was necessary to grow. If I was never bruised, I would not have experienced healing. Some sickness requires surgery (cutting). The cutting was necessary for my healing. When one is bitten by a snake, a snake deposits its poisonous venom. In a sense, snake venom is actually used as an anti-venom. Therefore, in order to experience the immunity to the bite, I had to have been first bitten.
When I am faced with life’s disappointments, I can dance in knowing that Hebrew 10:23 affirms my belief, “So let us seize and hold fast and retain without wavering the hope we cherish and confess and our acknowledgement of it, for He Who promised is reliable and faithful to His word.” He has proven Himself faithful. Never has He failed me yet.
Today I bear witness of His word, “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he may heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up Hosea 6:1. I will be celebrating twenty-nine years of marriage this year. My daughters have graduated from the same private school and have both graduated college. My son is a recent airman graduate of the US Air-force. I have added properties and lets just say because of our pursuit we have recovered all. I can share with Paul in saying, “I know both how to have a little, and I know how to have a lot. In all circumstances, I have learned the secret of being content, whether fed or hungry, and whether in abundance or in need.I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me.” I can face anything with an assurance in knowing that in a little while, He that shall come, will come and won’t tarry. So, I dance in His word in every situation knowing that He’s going to do it!
- Let’s be careful of our works and the purpose of our works. The bible warns our works will be tried by fire and if it is done unto God, it will be revealed but if it being done with our motives and agenda when the fire comes that will be revealed as well. When it looked like all hope was gone, I wanted to throw in the towels. I didn’t want to live anymore let alone continue serving in church.
- Let’s pray for a spiritual sight to see pass appearances and what’s obvious but that we will see what’s going on among our sisters and brothers beyond the smile and laughter. Let’s not be so conscience of the attire’s color and length but what’s underneath the attire. There are a lot of hurting people sitting among us. They are smiling but hurting but because we can’t see pass their appearances we can’t see that they are hurting.