“But now that you have been set free from sin and have become slaves to God, the benefit you reap leads to Holiness, and the result is eternal life. For the wages of sin is death, but the Gift of God is eternal Life in Christ Jesus Our Lord.” (Romans 6:22-23, NIV)
I am the only one who can separate myself from God. Rather harsh criticism of myself, but true nonetheless. It has taken me many years to realize the choices I made were separating me from God. What was even more disturbing was the degree of separation. It existed only in my human mind. I refused to realize, all I had to do was reach out and God would take my hand and lead me down his path.
I was Christian, having been raised Catholic. I attended mass every Sunday and my three children had been baptized Catholic. However, I was a surface Catholic. My inner self was still rooted in the secular world.
Many years ago, I decided it was time for me to go back to school. I didn’t pray about my decision. I didn’t ask God what his plans were. Nevertheless, I started school and thought I was happy. After seven years, I graduated with my Bachelor of Science in Interior Design. What a proud day for my family and me. I was going to change the world with my degree. I still didn’t ask God what he thought.
I had started a job while still in school. It was in my field of study, but not in God’s. The things that were most important to me didn’t seem to matter to this company. I found another job in the same field and soon realized that the new company was worse than the first. Neither company shared my family or moral values and I realized something was missing from what I thought was my perfect life.
Soon the new company laid me off. They told me to come back in a few months with a new proposal for a way I could work with them. I saw it as being fired, wrapped in pretty paper. What I still had yet to see was God’s hand reaching down to me. I did not go back to them in a few months, and still I did not pray.
The firing devastated me. My self-esteem had never been very good and this plunged me even further into the abyss. I began to question my worth and myself. I did believe that God had opened a door for me, but did nothing to find out what was on the other side of the door. Instead, I sat back, waited for God to tell me what his plans were, and made no effort to help myself. Still, a small nagging in the back of my mind kept telling me I needed to pray. Therefore, I prayed, but only to accuse and ask God why he had done this to me.
For the next few months, I dedicated myself to taking care of my teens and trying to find another job. For the next year, that’s what I did. Then a few life-changing events signaled that God was knocking on my door. My second son was struggling at a college hundreds of miles away, we decided to host a teen-age girl from Germany for a year and I unexpectedly became pregnant after sixteen years of not trying to have any more kids.
God wasn’t just knocking; he was breaking down the door. I couldn’t ignore him anymore.
My son was in his second year of college and struggling. Although he’s a very bright young man, he had chosen his major and college badly. His grades were terrible and he was far away from home. We had tired of his excuses, especially when he lost the scholarship he had received for being so smart. After a conversation with him that went badly, I had reached the end of my rope. In a recent sermon, the priest had told us not to worry, but to give our problems to God and God would take care of them if we let him. What could it hurt? I didn’t know what else to do. That night as I lay in my bed, after another fight with my husband about our son, I started to pray. I suffer from anxiety disorder and knew this could bring on another attack if I didn’t do something about it. “God, I cannot handle this. It’s causing too much stress on my relationship with my husband as well as on me. I am giving you this problem before it hurts me. Please take care of it.”
I stopped fretting and soon fell asleep. The next morning I awoke feeling refreshed and positive. Then my son called. For whatever reasons he had decided that it was time to change his major to something he really loved to do. My husband and I decided to bring him home to live until he could get himself enrolled in a state school. I realized God had answered my prayer from the previous night. He had taken care of the problem.
My other two concerns were not as easily answered. I was 41 years old, pregnant and had two teenage girls living in my house, one of which was not my own. I worried constantly about the baby. It had been many years since I had been pregnant and had a baby in the house. I had no baby accouterments left. We were starting over at square one. The pregnancy went smoothly, but every little ache and pain caused me to worry. I was constantly praying that the baby would be okay and that I would be up to the challenge. I was afraid I wouldn’t know when labor started and worried about where we would put the baby when we brought her home. Throughout the pregnancy, I prayed about all of my concerns.
April 27, I had scheduled to go in to have labor induced. I was determined to have this baby before the end of the month. However, I was apprehensive about having labor induced and God had listened to my fears. On April 26 the labor pains started. They were slow and mild at first and I wasn’t sure it was even labor. As the evening progressed, they became more intense. By early morning on the 27, I was sure it was labor and woke my husband for a trip to the hospital. The rest of the day was not easy, but at 11:30 a.m on April 27, my baby girl was born. I did not have my labor induced. God and Mother Nature did it in their own time. As I looked in her little eyes, I knew God had answered my prayers in His own time and own way and had given me a wonderful gift. It began to dawn on me that God does answer prayers and all I have to do is pray.
My other concern that year was our exchange student. We had heard horror stories about the problems that could come up when someone agrees to have an unrelated teenager living with you for a year. Admittedly, the year was not all peaches and cream and the girl that we got joined our household in a year that was fraught with change for our family. Fortunately, both our family and her adjusted beautifully. She fit into our family as if she was one of our own. My three kids loved her as if she was one of their siblings. God was definitely watching out for us.
God answered my prayers. My baby is now a happy, healthy sixteen year old. The year with our exchange student was a wonderful experience that continues to enrich our lives, my son has moved on with his life and is now married and I have found a career guided by God’s hands.
The road hasn’t been smooth. God still like to throw curve balls to remind me He is there. Satan likes to throw doubt and anxiety in my path. Some days I have trouble seeing the Gift that is my sixteen year old and when my son makes decisions I don’t think are right, I just want to reach through the phone and strangle him. Then I remember to call my friend Jesus. He’s now a friend who doesn’t have to knock. He just walks right in the back door and I know I don’t have to look far to find him. He is in everything I do.
“For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present or the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God, that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)