Pastor Steven Furtick of Elevation Church once said, “If you don’t understand how far someone has wandered in the wilderness, you will never understand their excitement about their deliverance.” As I sit here, I see this beautiful and vibrant little boy who is my son. I see a wonderful man I get to call my husband. I see a cozy house I am blessed to call home. And most importantly, I have a God who I love with all of my heart and soul and who I know loves me, too. This picture could have been drastically different had I not listened to a few very important prompts from God. Here is a glimpse into my wilderness.
FLASHBACK: Me, sitting in my rented home in southern Indiana that I shared with my then-boyfriend of three years. He was a struggling musician who I would frequent the bars with, singing with him to some Patsy Cline song I’d learned the night before. But something was changing inside of me… and I couldn’t figure out what it was. I had lived this life for some time now—some boy, some party, drinking, self-destruction inside and out. But the charm was starting to wear off, and the filth underneath was beginning to show. What I didn’t know then was that the world has its own knock-offs of the Holy Spirit. They are counterfeits and will never satiate like the real thing, yet they are so easy to access on Earth, and they welcome you. Or, more accurately, trap you.
At this point in my life, I was starting to feel…incomplete. Something deep inside me said, “Just pray.” I knew who God was, I knew right from wrong, and I went to church some as a kid. But I knew very little of the relational side of Him. I asked for a sign—something to get me out of there. About a week later, on Valentine’s Day, I got a call at 7:30 a.m. to come bail my boyfriend out of jail; he had been picked up for driving drunk. BANG. There it was. I said, “This is not the life for me.” Thank you, Jesus. I packed my bags and was out of there.
FLASH FORWARD: Me, sitting in my tiny one-bedroom apartment in downtown Indianapolis. I was deciding whether I would go with beer or wine tonight and whether half a pack of cigarettes would get me through the evening. My ex was calling me, and I decided to let it go to voice mail. My cousin was having a cookout the next morning, and though I really didn’t want to go, something kept pulling me. I knew I wasn’t living like I should, but I was still a good person. Surely God wouldn’t punish me for just indulging my habits once in a while. I appreciated Him giving me a way out of that relationship, but hey, I’m just having fun. I showed up to my cousin’s cookout, hungover, swearing to show my face but leave soon after. But we ended up talking about this church that he loved. His face lit up when he described it, and I was intrigued. He told me to check it out. It certainly piqued my interest; I told myself I would think about it.
I did more than think about it. I went the next weekend with a girl who lived in my building and, soon after, made the decision to accept Jesus as my Savior and commit to learn who He was and allow Him to begin the enormous task of rewiring my brain and softening my heart. Not only did he give me something greater than anything this life could offer, but he delivered me from the lies of the enemy and the tools he used against me—alcohol, cigarettes, lust, loneliness, defiance. I clung to the following verse:
Romans 6:6, “We know that our old sinful selves were crucified with Christ so that sin might lose its power in our lives. We are no longer slaves to sin.”
My “yes” to Jesus was the single greatest decision I have ever made.
FLASH FORWARD AGAIN: I live for Him! I found a place serving on the greeter team and have so much joy in my heart. The film has been removed from my eyes. I read my Bible every day and enjoy it. I soak up every word my pastor teaches, and because it is a wonderful church, I find ways to apply the Word to every aspect of my life! The world begins to make sense. Like, REALLY make sense. And my eyes are opened to the schemes of the devil that I used to fall into so easily. I began to see that when I was using the world as my guide, I used phrases like, “you only live once”, instead of “above all else, guard your heart, for everything flows from it” (Proverbs 4:23). I shifted from “love everyone” to “bad company corrupts good character” (Corinthians 15:33). God began to show me that He had given me certain abundances in my heart, and the enemy would use it for his own personal gain. By nature, I am a people-lover, but in the world those God-given qualities were not being channeled properly. I am able to see the ounce of good in a sea of trouble, which is great if you are listening to the Holy Spirit, and troublesome without Him. You welcome sin into your conversations, not realizing that you have no filter in which to drain the fruits of the tree of knowledge of good and evil. I found myself ABSORBED by God and His word. There was no room for addictions and certainly, no room for boys.
Or…so I thought. One beautiful day after serving on the greeter team, I got into my car to head home. I actually hated leaving; being at church was my happy place. But before I pulled out of the lot, I had a vision. I can still remember that moment. God put me in that greeter role and had me turn around to see a man I only knew by name. No words were spoken, but I immediately felt something very strongly for this guy I had never met! I called a friend who was helping me navigate this new life. I told her what happened, and she finished my sentence when I said, “He made me feel like………” and she chimed, “like he was your husband?” BANG. Tears fell from my eyes. That was it, exactly. There was zero resistance. He literally put the desire in my heart. And with a little “Christian flirting,” I eventually wore him down. 🙂
Now, we get to celebrate three years of marriage this year. I can accurately say that there is no way I could have picked a better man to do life with. He is everything I never knew I needed, and I am supremely blessed by him, our little boy, and the life God has created for us.
For me, these three decisions led me into the arms of Jesus and into my calling of a truly fulfilled life. There is a popular song by Cory Asbury that says, “Oh the overwhelming, never-ending, reckless love of God. Oh it chases me down, fights til I’m found, leaves the ninety-nine. I couldn’t earn it, I don’t deserve it, still you give yourself away.” This is my heart song. He chased me down in high school. I resisted. He chased me down in college. I still resisted. He chased me down to southern Indiana. I opened up some. He chased me down when I was alone. I opened up even more. Until I was His. And I will be forever His. My walk through the wilderness had come to an end, and I was, and am utterly grateful.
I’m here today to encourage you. Faith is a process; for me it was a few shaky “Yes’s” until I could answer with BOLDNESS and declare the steps I knew have been laid out by the One who knew me and directed my path. I also want to encourage you to share how God moves in your life. Our testimony is so powerful, one of the most powerful things we have to give.
1 Peter 3:15 says, “But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”
Ask God to give you an opportunity to be a witness to His glory, and when he ushers in that moment, walk boldly.