The Full Measure of Joy
I am proud and excited to announce that I have started a new journey in serving God and His Kingdom. I have enrolled as a full-time student at Moody Bible College. My semester began on Tuesday (hence the late blog post). I am studying to complete a Bachelor of Science in Ministry Leadership with a focused concentration in Women’s Ministry. I hope to use this opportunity in order to serve my King in ways that were previously out of reach. I long to teach the Scriptures in a new way, plant churches, and raise up an army of military spouses that are ready and willing to share Jesus.
My story is entering a season of success and encouragement, but it was not always so. If you looked at my life 12 years ago, this would not be the projected outcome. I was lost. I had no concept of Jesus and the freedom that he offered me. God, my Father, seemed more like a nice idea than the beautiful truth that lives within me now. I’m sure that the Holy Spirit was grieved to see me in such outrageous rebellion.
I am overwhelmed with thanksgiving as I look back at those dark and dreary days of isolation, rejection, and heart ache. I am so grateful that God called me by name and delivered me from myself. He is ever glorious in the way that He reaches out to us. He longs to love us and I will never forget the day that I surrendered my heart into His hands. I’ll share that story in a moment, but first I’ll tell the back story.
I was 20 years old when I met Keith. He was a little younger, but I didn’t mind. He was active duty in the U.S. Air Force and he insisted on taking me on a date. I tried to ignore his advances, but he was persistent. After several attempts, I agreed to accompany him for dinner. We talked all evening and at the end of the night, he told me that he was sure that he was going to marry me. Creepy, right? Imagine my surprise as this clean-cut Midwestern boy all but proposed on our first date. I had pink streaks in my hair and a clip in nose ring. I wore ripped up band t-shirts and flowing skirts. I was a little bit of a hippie. Thinking back, I’m sure we looked a little strange out together.
After his shocking revelation, he said “it’s a God thing. I just know.” That was a strange concept for me. I wasn’t sure what he meant or how he “knew.” I brushed it off, we had a second date, and then a third. A few months later, he proposed and we were married three weeks later. Fast, huh? Yeah. Our families thought so too. A few more months went by. One Sunday morning, as I was enjoying the kind of heavy sleep that only one without children can experience, he wakes me up. He announces with authority that we are going to church. We hadn’t been to church regularly and I did not intend to start. We argued for a few brief moments and then we were on the way to Fairview Baptist.
I had never been an active part of a church before and it was slightly overwhelming to walk into a church the size of Fairview. I was wearing a white, ragged flowy skirt with my hair in a messy pony tail. I think I was wearing a Bright Eyes t-shirt. I didn’t even own a church dress. I’m sure that there were a few raised eyes brows as we went to Sunday school.
We joined a Sunday school class for nearly/newly married couples. The women there were around my age, but they seemed to be from a different planet. They all had fancy dresses and their hair looked like they just left a salon. Their Bibles were carried in designer purses and I wasn’t sure that they would accept me. They were welcoming and invited us to sit with them in service.
The Pastor, a heavy-set man named “Brother Mickey,” took to the pulpit. He opened to the book of Ephesians and began to preach. He read the text and began breaking down the Scripture so that I could understand what it meant.
This is the verse that changed my life forever.
Ephesians 1:4-10 NIV
“For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves. In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, in accordance with the riches of God’s grace that he lavished on us. With all wisdom and understanding, he made known to us the mystery rof his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ.”
I left that service forever transformed. Soon after, I was baptized. Every step since then has been in striving to walk in step with the Holy Spirit, seek Jesus, and praise my Father in Heaven.
There is a song that I listen to when I want to remember what God has done for me personally. It’s called “Look How He Lifted Me.” My prayer today is, that if you are in a difficult season, that you would seek first His face. Press into His Word and promises. He is faithful and longs to love you too.
Here is my favorite song. :)