When He Held Me

So the Father has recently been pressing upon me a testimony that happened my senior year in college that I hadn’t thought about in years. There is something that He wants to show me, but I think maybe there’s something He can show you, too…

It was early October; I had just done an all-nighter to finish a paper due that morning, and was considering taking a nap before I had to get ready for class. Our apartments were behind a night club, and I heard a ruckus, thinking it was the regular dawn crowd. I looked outside our balcony, and this man was jumping up and down yelling “Fuego! Fuego!” I could hardly grasp the significance of this when I smelled some acrid smoke. I awoke my roommates and we evacuated our apartment. We saw that the fire was coming from the apartment 3 doors over and 1 floor down, but it didn’t seem large, and we heard the firetrucks coming. We dashed in to grab some important things and wait for the fire to be put out so we can go back to our lives. I realized that I wasn’t going to get to class on time, so my roommates and I trekked to the office to call our morning professors to let them know we wouldn’t be in class. Walking back to the parking lot in front of our place, we crested the hill and stopped in shock. If you’ve seen pictures of the bombing of Hiroshima, you might have an idea of what we saw. There was this huge black smoke cloud rising from the top of the apartments, with dark orange angry flames in the center. Suddenly I knew we wouldn’t be in class at all that day. There was shocked whispering among the residents, and the word “asbestos” came up. It was an old apartment building, and the roof still had that cancerous material in it. If by any chance any of the units escape the flames, everything still would be condemned. That day, I walked away with my backpack, my car, and a pair of pink pajamas.

What followed I couldn’t make up in my wildest dreams. I spent the next eight weeks tossing between the couches of some good friends. My sorority was beginning our orientation period, a time of intense bible studies and bonding activities that took place every day for over three weeks, and I was president at the time. I got into a car accident, and somehow got myself involved in identity theft. I realized it when I was trying to find another apartment and my application was declined. A couple of verses from Job came to mind during that time – “Though He slay me, yet will I trust Him” and “Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked I will return. Blessed be the Name of the Lord.” I thought it facetiously; in actuality, I was at peace, and had a certain joy in how my Lord loved me and was taking care of me. I was homeless, but I always had a place to stay. My teachers extended grace for my projects. Money kept coming to me like I never imagined. My wallet was never empty: people I didn’t even know were handing me money, my church supported me, and two of my frat brothers withdrew more than they could afford, I’m sure and God bless them, and just handed me hundreds of dollars. Philippians 4:11-13 was very close to me during that time, because I lived it: Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content: I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound. Everywhere and in all things I have learned both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. The National Board of my sorority admonished my for not letting them know of my need. It couldn’t be helped, I didn’t experience any material need.

So the last week of class, I began feeling like someone ran over me with a steamroller, picked me up, shook me out, and put me through the wringer. Yeah, I came down with the flu for the first time ever. (Side note: cough syrup with codeine very VERY bad.) I was getting ready for class because, as I said before, it was the final week before finals started, and I had tests and major papers to finish. I was at my friend’s apartment (still homeless at this point) and putting on my sneakers as another friend was telling me how not well I looked. She took it upon herself to take off one shoe while I was putting on the other, and as I tried to put that one back on, she took of the other shoe and told me I wasn’t going anywhere. I couldn’t think straight, couldn’t even stand up straight. I finally gave in, and she tucked me in on the couch before leaving. I was by myself in the apartment, so achy and a bit worried about classes, but in the end just crying out to God. I don’t recall praying for anything, just needing Him so much. Suddenly I felt His arms around me, like a hug from behind, and I heard Him saying “It’s going to be okay. Everything is going to be fine.” I wept and wept, knowing that My God was taking care of me, meeting my every need, even my need to be held and cradled when I was worn down, weary, and sick.

To me, that’s such an amazing testimony of the goodness and loving kindness of the Creator, and I am so surprised that I haven’t thought about it in years. What is He showing me, reminding me of all this? I don’t quite know, but I am trying to listen and learn. What is He telling you?

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A Love that Changes a People

Recently, I was talking to a friend about movies and Braveheart came up. I watched it once and thought it was good, but not one I’m gung-ho to see again. My friend was not of the same opinion at all. He said that it was the most romantic movie he had ever seen. Yes, he’s a he, and as far as I know, very straight. He went on to explain what he meant. Mel Gibson’s character was a peaceable man, not wanting to get involved in the struggles that plagued the country. He falls in loves and marries a girl he has known since childhood, and when she is killed, he changes. Because of her love and his love for her, he rallies a whole nation to stand up and fight for their freedom. To change from being overpowered and cowed under, to a people of pride. Then my friend said something that has stuck with me for these last several weeks; he said to name another movie/story where love so changes a man, who changes a nation (or words to that effect). I thought of some good movies with great love stories, but he was right. When I thought about it, he was really right.

So, I’ve got this friend who’s got lots of relationship problems, and her main issue is that she doesn’t see herself worthy of a decent guy. She keeps getting into these bad relationships, keeps getting hurt, and doesn’t understand why. I’m trying to encourage her, help her understand that she needs to like and respect herself before she can expect anyone else to. She once asked me how I can be so confident and self-respecting, so sure of myself. I didn’t consciously think this before, but at that point and ever since I realized what it was. Abba loves me unconditionally, no matter what, and when the Creator of the Universe is madly in love with you, you can’t help but feel loved, and appreciate the person He loves. Because of His love, any guy who treats me with less than that respect doesn’t even stand a chance. The Messiah’s love is so deep, He went through hell to get me (yeah, literally). That’s kinda hard to live up to…

I found it very interesting that these two subjects have come up in the last couple weeks, because yes, I found the one story that compares. I’m sure you saw this coming. God’s love for us was so compelling that he changed from Godly form and took on the form of a man to go to the cross, take on our sins, and reunite us with Himself. That’s a very blasé summary that doesn’t touch on a fraction of the passion involved, but there you are. A love that changes a man (in a matter of speaking – changes the Creator into a man), which has changed and continues to change not only a nation, but nations. That is the ultimate love story. That’s Who loves me, and with Whom I am in love.