Armoured Up

Archive for the tag “new believer”

Why Would God Allow That?

“Why would God allow that to happen?”  That to me is the most difficult question I’ve been asked as a Christian.  It’s easy to respond with the typical, “God’s ways are not our ways;” “God is sovereign;” “The mysteries belong to God;” or even “I have no idea, ask God” – each response acceptable but the day I fielded this question, I knew that any of those responses wouldn’t fly with this broken, young Christian woman struggling to find her way as a new believer.  I knew her continued relationship with the Lord hung precariously on whether I’d be able to offer some kind of clarity to something that had hurt her so deeply and threatened to drive a wedge between her and the Lord.

And so I sat in my kitchen with Elizabeth as she flat ironed my hair, chatting away.  The conversation soon turned serious as she grew comfortable enough to drop her guard, allowing me access to a situation which threatened to alter her perception of the love of God.  I began to pray as her story spilled out….

Elizabeth was a single mother struggling to make ends meet.  Her ex-husband was paying child support which she greatly relied on, although it was still barely enough to sustain her and their daughter.  He used child support as leverage in order to get his way at every turn.  He was due to pick his daughter up on a Friday and didn’t show up when he said he would so Elizabeth put her down for the night.  The phone rang at around 9:00p.m. or so and it was him saying he would be picking her up by 10:30.  Elizabeth explained that their daughter was already in bed and he could pick her up early the next day.  He grew belligerent and insisted that he be allowed to at least see her and after a shouting match, Elizabeth relented.  She hung up the phone angry that she had given in, and feeling uneasy about him coming over.  When he arrived his motives were made clear to Elizabeth when soon after he gained entrance, he began to interrogate her regarding her male friendships.  Their exchange became violent, first with a push, which escalated to a slap and further escalated with her being raped by him.  No, she didn’t press charges…she still relied on his support and he was her daughter’s father, but imagine the shock and then utter devastation to discover that as a result of that act of violence, she was pregnant again.  There was no way she could afford another child and the thought that this child was unwelcomed pierced her heart.  She considered abortion as an alternative but before doing so, she went to her church for counsel, where she received the most ungodly counsel imaginable.  She was told that since this child was not conceived in love, it would be okay for her to terminate the pregnancy.  She left that session as confused as ever; however as confused as she was, she just knew that advice was wrong.  Unfortunately, stress did what her conscience forbid and she miscarried that baby, which took care of her immediate “problem,” while leaving her hanging on the ledge where her faith and trust in God were concerned…and here I was at the end of her story handing her tissue, poised to field the most difficult question ever!  “If God loves me, why would He allow that to happen to me?”

While she was speaking, I was praying,  seeking and inquiring of the Lord how best to respond to his daughter.  I asked her simply if she at any time had a “feeling”– church folk call it an “unction,” that she should stick to her decision not to allow him to come over that night.  “Yes,” she said.  “Did it get stronger when he appeared at your door?”  She said that by the time he appeared at the door, she was downright scared to open it.  I explained to her that I believe that was the Lord speaking to her…warning her… through that “feeling” and through her fear to open the door.  She was pensive for a few minutes and truthfully, with every fiber within me, I believed I told her correctly, but  still held my breath waiting for her reaction.  She accepted that explanation.  I also showed her how on point she was to second guess the “advice” she was given by the church counselor and explained to her how God was speaking to her in that situation.  I encouraged her telling her that God loves her; He’s speaking all the time and though she may not have heeded his warning that one fateful night, she does hear from Him, as evidenced by her decision not to terminate her pregnancy.

God is always speaking and warning, but if we don’t have “ears to hear,” then He’s speaking to Himself.  Elizabeth floated in and out of my life just that quickly and I think of her often, hoping that she’s been able to strengthen her relationship with the Lord.  She is a trophy of His grace and I pray that she is lifting His name up and drawing other women, who like her have faced difficult times, have made difficult choices, but can say that God loved them enough to show them how to be slow to speak and quick to listen; how to be led by His Spirit; how to trust Him for all that is lacking; how to rely on Him, His strength, His wisdom, His power to sustain and maintain them.

“For great is His love toward us, and the faithfulness of the Lord endures forever.”  Psalm 117:2 NIV

Just Give Me Jesus

It took me a while to find what had been missing in my life. I always had a sensing that there was more. I never understood why I was full but still hungry; why I would drink and remain thirsty; why that new thing that made most people happy, bored me once the newness faded.  I was pretty open to trying what felt right.  You could say I was pretty liberal, even entertaining the thought that all paths led to God.  Oprah and I could have been besties.

I had done my share of searching, especially having landed in LaLa Land, which has been called the land of the fruits and nuts. I arrived in Los Angeles as a curious Catholic. I found an amazing “loud” Catholic church on the verge of being charasmatic and coming from a loud, feisty family I rather enjoyed the freedom of almost raising my hands in worship. I loved the guitars and the contemporary songs and there was even a clap or two during a few. The priest was young and firey just like me…and then just like that he was moved to another parish and the guitars were silenced and we were back to the organ and the elderly priest. I was gone too, but my search continued…

Next, I tried an Apostolic church whenever my husband was home from out of town and again, I really liked the music and the people seemed pretty free..well I was a little scared at times when they jumped and I couldn’t understand what all the falling was about and could someone please explain to me how it was okay for people to talk out loud in church?  I enjoyed the sermons as I called them. They were always positive and I loved how the pastor spoke so eloquently…there was something about him. The people scared me so I never visited without my husband..and my search continued.

I clearly recall my husband and I going to a baby naming ceremony where we gathered in a circle as drums were being played. I surveyed the people in the circle and was intrigued by them. I loved how they swayed to the music, eyes closed, arms waving and the words they each spoke…a blessing for the baby…so deep…so finger snappin’ deep and then it was my turn. Now why did I have to bring God into the mix and ruin the vibe? (At least that was the message I got when every eye opened, every head turned and faced my direction) and somehow the drums weren’t as noticeable to me above the loudness of my thumping heart. I kept my head bowed to shield my red face praying that the next person would assume the baton quickly. Ah yes, I hear the drums again and yes, the search continued…

Oh well, next we were invited to a hotel where someone called “The Master” was speaking. Ever the curious one, I gladly went although I wasn’t too happy about removing my shoes. I obeyed my husband after the third time when he said through clenched teeth, “honey, please just take them off…do it for me.” The  Master spoke, but I didn’t hear a thing. Afterwards, he made his way towards us. We were easy to spot, being the only two in the crowd not wearing white robes and turbans. He
stood before me and stared into my eyes, lifted his hand and slapped me. Oh, no he didn’t! Yes he did and our host told me that it was an honor to be slapped by the Master. Not if you’re Puerto Rican, it isn’t!! Umm…the search continued.

My husband, ever the caring one was concerned about my lack of friends when we first arrived in California, so he set out to find me some. Honey, you have to get out and fellowship. Okay, so I accepted an invitation to a house party given by a stylist. It was to be a gathering of women. I arrived and was met by a rather serious man who instructed me to not only remove my shoes, (here we go again) but I had to hand them over too. Huh? I walked right into a Buddhist fellowship and I tell you when they began chanting (as I sat on the couch refusing to kneel with everyone) I decided there was no way I was gonna take part in this party. I got up and got loud when the host would not hand over my shoes. I ran outta there and the search continued.

My search ended, not at a church, hotel or house party, but in my bedroom when at the end of my rope, a life line was thrown as I knelt next to my bed (although He would have said yes had I been standing on my head) and I asked Jesus to be the Lord of my life. I just knew that my search had ended and my journey with Him was about to begin.

Months later, I was in San Francisco at a hair salon opening. I was having a conversation with a non believer. The conversation turned to religion and he explained that he had studied religions and settled with Buddhism. He asked if I had tried it. No way was I going to tell him of my experience, but I did tell him that I had been a seeker, but my search had ended when I became a born again Christian. He had a lot to say about Christianity and I listened…(the baby Christian that I was), not being well versed in the word; not a scholar…just a believer…I listened and told him that I was not moved to search any more because I found what I had been searching for. Bless his heart, he went on to tell me that I was close minded, like most Christians he knew. I laughed to myself knowing that I had been anything but that. When I asked him if he had ever read the bible himself, he said he hadn’t and had no intention to do so. I asked him as politely as I could….Who’s being close minded now? “Touche,” he said.

Never will I leave my first love. My beloved is mine and I am His! I have been sealed (branded as His own, secured) set apart just for Him. No more searching…no more drumming, slapping or chanting…Just give me Jesus!!

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, Call upon Him while He is near.”      Isaiah 55:6

“I love those who love me. And those who seek me diligently will find me.” Proverbs 8:17

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