A while ago I visited my father in prison because he is ill. He is probably not going to make it through another month. His cousin, David, and I, wanted to be sure of my father’s salvation, so we went to visit him. During my visit, I had an “A-ha!” moment. I heard how my father was raised by a Godly mom, and that he had a true encounter with Christ when a famous Evangelist came to his town. He was so bold to make his way through the crowd (his cousin said) that when the Evangelist laid hands on him, he flew backward! You might wonder: How can a person, touched by GOD, spend more than half of his life in prison?
It’s about making a Choice!
I, too, was raised going to church most of my life, and have a Godly mother. If you knew my mother back then, let’s just say, you would know the difference between right and wrong! She was a true Christian, and I had no doubt of that, but I never had an experience quite like hers. Her life transformed in front of my own two eyes, as she grew in the Lord, and her old self died. I had an improved and better mom! I remember asking God, for a relationship like my mom has with Him. I lived by appearing to have a Godly life, but I didn’t allow the power of God to change me. (2 Timothy 3:5) At age 18, I decided it was about time for me to truly experience life! I thought that all my life my mother was trying to keep me from following the path of my father, all because she didn’t want me to end up just like him.
Nevertheless, I CHOSE to live my life and chose my path. I chose a life not based on God’s will. As explained in Psalm 1:1-2: “Blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked or stand in the way of sinners or sit in the seat of mockers. But his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night.” Eventually, I decided to get my act together with the help of a Christian Rehab. I learned all of the disciplines of Christianity of my youth. I then became more like Joseph in Genesis 39-40. Everything I started doing was anointed:
• I became a director of the very same facility where I was rehabilitated (at age 19)
• I started going to a Christian University (at Oral Roberts University)
• After school, I ministered to the youth
• I also led worship for my young adults class
• And I believed I was going to be on my way to leadership!
You might say, what was wrong with that picture? I still did not know GOD! I did not have a personal relationship with him. Once again, I had a form of Godliness, but I denied HIS Power to change me (2 Timothy 3:5). Then in 2001, I had a stroke of the brain stem. My life changed at that moment! I found myself alone in a hospital bed, unable to move. I came to find out that the stroke left me paralyzed from my neck down, and I was unable to speak! I’ve never felt so lonely as I did during my time in the hospital. You see, I was the type of person that was never alone. I was always the life of the party! But after the stroke, the party ended for me.
I felt I was just a man alone with his thoughts, and sometimes I was blessed with the occasional visits from family and friends. Of course, my mom came every day (because she is my mom and is always there for me). Don’t get me wrong, I enjoyed her visits but, other than her visits, I spent most of the day alone! I was in a place of my life were I needed GOD to do a miracle. GOD had a better plan for me. You see, GOD used my time of need to reveal Himself to me in a special way. I was the kind of Christian that had my agenda always in play. (I know none of you had ever done that to God – as in giving Him Your Agenda, right?) This time, I was at a place of desperation! “Forget my agenda,” I said to God. I told God I would come with a blank sheet of paper! I will try to explain the so-called “blank sheet of paper.” I used to come to God with a full sheet of paper telling Him how He was going to resolve my issues. As a mature Christian, I now know that God helps us without our input or without giving him a list of things for him to do).
Back to me at the hospital, I found myself in a very deep depression! You would think being paralyzed would get me down, but not so much. I have always believed God is going to heal me. I was depressed because of my loneliness. I am a people-person so being in bed alone all day was a big challenge for me! I was not the same person and nothing less than an intervention from GOD Himself could take away that pain! And That Intervention from GOD is What Took Place! One day while praying, I had a vision of Christ. I saw Him crying for me and my loneliness. I did not realize that Jesus was directly affected by my pain. He took my hand and placed it in the Father’s hand. When I told my mom about this, she asked me, “What does GOD look like?” I told her,” I do not know.” I did not see GOD’s face, but I knew He was GOD. Though the skeptics will never truly understand how the vision affected my life; I am sharing this with you to share how GOD took away the pain of my loneliness by revealing how much He cares about me!
I cannot fully explain it but after that vision, I was never the same. It made me realize the True Love of GOD. I lived so long thinking my good works brought me closer to HIM, but it was HIS Grace and Sacrifice on the cross that brought me closer to GOD.
(Galatians 2:20) “I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I now live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.”
It goes against what I used always to believe, but I continually learn of GOD’s Grace and Love through the reading of HIS Word, every single day.