But none of these things move me; nor do I count my life dear to myself, so that I may finish my race with joy, and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify to the gospel of the grace of God.
Welcome Back! Thank You ALL for your comments, your emails and words of encouragement. I continue to pray that through my story you would find strength to trust in the God of second chances and also, that you would share your story to another generation. Praises be to God, who paid my debt and raised this life up from the dead.
Picking up where we left off. Beyond doubt, letting go of my friends was one of the hardest decisions that I have had to make. My prayer soon went from being “Jesus, I give you my friends,” to “Jesus, please send me a friend.” As I told you yesterday, I cried for a whole week lamenting and mourning my great loss. Every day during lunch I would literally lock myself in the bathroom and cry. I was going down with a fight. Because I knew that my selection of friends would probably not be any better than my last, I did not set out to look for a friend. I felt God slap some sense into me when He spoke to my heart to wait on Him. I waited on the Lord and it was a very lonely time, but it helped me to see that all I will ever need in this life is found in God.
Come Monday, I saw from a distance a group of people from another local church. I used to attend a small Bible study with my sister that they hosted for the students of that school. I figured, hey they are Christians, let me approach them. So I did, and for a week they were my new hang out buddies. By that Friday, I wanted to pluck my eyes out and I asked the only person I actually got along with, if she wanted to go somewhere else for lunch. To my surprise she was quick to say yes. I remember exactly where we had lunch that day and before I knew it we were sharing with each other where God had brought us out from and where He had us then. Could this be? Had God come through for me and given me that one friend I asked for? He did!!! God had orchestrated a beautiful friendship. I call her my answered prayer. I love you Nana, you were and still are my best friend. This year we celebrated 11 years of a Godsent friendship and sisterhood, with no traveling pants!!
All the areas I was weak in, she was strong, and the same for her. We were both equally yoked in our own way, both alone in a sense yet yearning passionately for God. For a long time she was my only friend. Through her God taught me many lessons, for example, to be a gentle and quiet spirit (something I still haven’t quite mastered). In her friendship, I found the strength needed to overcome many obstacles. She is the cheese to my macaroni and the wind beneath my wings. Sounds corny, I know. But having a Godly accountability partner made a huge difference, where areas if she had not been there who knows how I would have backslid into my old ways. Three verses I need to share right now:
Don’t be fooled by those who say such things, for “bad company corrupts good character.” 1 Corinthians 15:33
Faithful are the wounds of a friend, but the kisses of an enemy are deceitful. As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend. Proverbs 27:6, 17.
Having someone pushing me, motivating, encouraging, supporting me and reiterating the scriptures set me on solid ground. We all need friends like that, even if it is only one. I could finally see growth in my life. Things began to fall into place. I felt like I was back, that girl that surrendered all to Jesus at her deathbed was back. God had blessed me to overflow even though I had grieved Him and brought a lot of shame to His name, when I had claimed to be a Christian yet behaved in right out disobedience. The odd thing about it all was that I served in the children’s ministry at my church before I actually gave my life to the Lord. I followed the lesson plans and taught them Bible stories and even then I still didn’t believe. But at this point, I was desperately in love with God, still am today. This time I taught the kids from heart filled with joy, from what God was teaching me. I wanted more though. I knew that God had promised me bigger plans. And then something happened.
The Youth Pastor and His wife approached me at church after church service. They told me that they had seen the spiritual growth in my life and leadership qualities. They had prayed and been in the Lord’s presence. Now they wanted me to pray about serving as a youth leader. Who? Me? Wow, really, me God! I wasn’t about to take this lightly. I prayed and prayed. I fasted to hear from God but there wasn’t a clear answer. I was so honored that God still wanted to use me for greater things. Years later I heard a great sermon, “The Recall of Peter” (if anyone is interested email me and I will get a copy to you). It is found in John 21*, where Peter, after his failure is called by Jesus to feed His sheep. I felt like that. What great joy! But even more so, I had to make sure that this was really God calling me to a full time ministry.
September 11, 2002, I attended a women’s conference at a local church. The Verse for the conference was Proverbs 31:25, “She is clothed with strength and dignity, and she laughs without fear of the future.” I sat by myself in the back of the sanctuary. I listened as each Pastor’s Wife shared on a subject that I had lived and with the help of Jesus had overcome. Something though, was different. I sat there more as a spectator. It was as If God had placed those women in a police investigation room and I was on the other side of the mirror. I could see them but they couldn’t see me. I observed each woman, ages ranging from 12 years of age to senior citizens. All broken and being restored to lily white. God allowed me to see passed the smiling faces and find women in need of discipleship. I found myself burdened and heavy laden for each one. The final session was a surprise topic, taught by a mystery guest. To my surprise it was one of my favorite Christian singers at the time. And guess what she taught through… the book of Ruth. The book of Ruth is my ultimate favorite. Not because of the love story between Boaz and Ruth (thought that is a plus) but because of Ruth’s character. Ingrid exhorted us to be women of character who glean in the Word of God and share what we gleaned with others. She prayed over me and told me great things that God was going to do through my life, the same message that the lady at the concert has spoken to me.
That day, as I left the conference I prayed, “Lord, if what you said to me through Ingrid is true I need you to confirm it through your word.” I was driving to work, when I felt the Lord speak to me, “Read Isaiah 61*.” I rushed into the office and opened by Bible. There it was, the confirmation I asked for. The Recall of Raquel was spoken. I was overjoyed. I called Marcus and Janet (Youth Pastors) and share with them all that God had spoken to me. And so, my ministry days had come to be. The call was greater than I could have ever imagined. This set apart Lily was being called to be set apart and preach good tidings to the poor women; to heal the brokenhearted women, to proclaim liberty to the women held captives, and the opening of the prison to those women who are bound, to comfort all women who mourn, to give them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they may be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified.” How was I going to do this? Not by might not by power but by His Spirit (Zechariah 4:6).
I was resting in green pastures but I would soon find out that not everything was going to turn out as peachy as it looked. This set apart Lily had some unplanned heartaches to overcome…
*Click here to read John 21 & Isaiah 61