Last year my girlfriend and I took a leap of faith and followed our hearts on a move from our well-established roots in Pennsylvania to the great state of North Carolina. And throughout the time that we’ve spent here, we’ve both found a lot of peace and happiness in our transition. One of the most meaningful connections that we’ve made has been with our church which just so happens to be located at the corner just across the block on which we live. I believe that there is a purpose for everything that occurs in our lives. I don’t believe in coincidences. God brought us to our home in NC for a very specific reason. And it’s not by chance that we arrived in such an amazing community with a beautiful, welcoming church at its forefront.
Faith has become an absolutely integral part of our relationship with each other. It’s the glue that bonds us when adversity threatens to get the best of us. Thankfully, no matter our circumstances, we know that we have a shared commitment to our faith and that every Sunday at 7 PM, be it challenging conditions or the best of times, we’ll be there worshipping together. We come as we are in fear of no judgment or condemnation, and God offers us his love, forgiveness, and guidance. And in rhythm with the amazing people that make up the congregation surrounding us, we are set free from our burdens and united in peace and gratitude. It’s a moving experience every single week.
Growing up I can’t say that I ever had a very intimate connection with my faith or my church. It was not until I was reborn a few years ago that my relationship with God became the cornerstone of my life. And it was not until we attended our first evening service here in North Carolina that I felt any type of spiritual bond to a church. Our first night at Christ Church was an experience that I’ll never forget. Tears ran down my face uncontrollably as I took in the music and prayer. I never felt so welcomed and moved emotionally by a community of believers. And I knew that night that God was there. I could feel His presence. It was beautiful.
Every week when we attend our service, I know that I could very well be blessed with the receipt of some type of new, profound message or direction from God. So worship has become a very exciting experience for me. I’m always anticipating the discovery of a unique perspective on life or faith. And last week I was introduced to an idea that really struck a chord with me. We were singing the hymn “Your Love is Strong” and the lyrics appeared on the screen “would you sell yourself to buy the one you’ve found?” I recognized immediately that the question posed was one that God wanted me to explore in more depth, because it nearly sparkled as it caught my eye on the screen. So I quickly grabbed a pen from the pew and wrote down the message so that I could spend some time thinking about its meaning throughout the week ahead.
A little more than three years ago, I found my relationship with God. And when I finally decided to let him into my heart, I was given a whole new perspective on life. I had surrendered the failures of my past to Him in a desperate plea for forgiveness and restoration. My life had reached its breaking point. I had hit bottom, and I did not have the strength to continue fighting my battle alone. So I reached out to God and told Him that I was ready to take responsibility for the circumstances of my life and I asked Him to do with me what He wished. At that very moment, my transformation began.
I remember vividly the amazing feeling of a weight being lifted off of my shoulders that day as I stood in surrender to Christ. On the brink of a total mental and physical collapse just moments earlier, I could not help but smile with joy the moment that God came to my rescue. All of my fear and desperation turned to feelings of hope and renewal. And I grew excited about life and about getting started with my transformation because I recognized that there was indeed a way out of the darkness and that I could and would return to the light if I simply followed His plan. I was completely committed to the idea of selling myself to buy the one that I had found.
For the next year or so, I remained in close quarters with God. And He spoke to me on a regular basis as I pursued His mission for my life. It was beautiful. I felt so blessed. I took such pride in knowing that my Savior was directly involved and interested in leading me to the fulfilment of my life’s purpose. It was difficult for me to truly fear or anticipate the worst in any situation, because I knew He was always walking beside me. And with that knowledge, I could do anything without the fear of failure. God does not fail. He wins every battle, and He completes every mission with love and grace. So I rejected the notions of the world that were not on track with my calling and ran with the guidance of my Lord. He understood what was best for my life and my only mission was to do His will.
Unfortunately, over time the world infiltrated my course of action and my fears began limiting God’s work in my life. I ventured off course to create my own pathways to success which more closely corresponded with what society considered acceptable. And although I may not have regressed completely, I grew very motivated by money and the accumulation of things. I became obsessed with the idea of living comfortable, not through God, but rather through financial security. And I began making desperate attempts to achieve the comforts that I so badly desired, only to fall flat on my face time and time again.
I was not going to be successful on my own. I needed God, and I knew it. Yet I somehow avoided that conservation with Him in my prayers throughout my day. I’d ask Him to bless certain ventures or undertakings knowing full well that they ran contradictory to His plan for my life, and somehow I retained some peace in my mind believing that I still maintained my closeness with Him. But that wasn’t the case at all. I was hurting Him by turning away and taking the wheel, no longer allowing Him to direct the course of my life. I knew in my heart that I was betraying Him. And recognizing what He had done for me, the mercy He had on my life and the forgiveness He offered me…after all the sacrifices He made, I could not have been more off track with my actions.
God, if you are listening, I want you to know now that I am back. And I’m sorry for drifting away and letting the world and my fears and insecurities get the best of me. I’d give anything to start over with on our mission together. I’m doing everything in my power to become the most healthy-minded individual that I can so that I can be the warrior that you will need for this journey with you. You’re my everything. Thank you for reaching out to me last week at church. I’m ready again to sell myself for the one I’ve found. I give it all to you. Do with me what you will. And please bless me with the strength to carry out your plan for the rest of my days on this earth. Thank you for your mercy. In Jesus’ name, Amen.
May God Bless!