After reading Jamera’s June 4th “Transforming Tuesdays” post and the scripture that went along with it, I reflected on the moment in my life when I began to “believe.”
Coming up in my household, my parents instilled in me Christian values. My grandfather was a veteran, business owner, and the pastor of Christ of Calvary Church in southwest Philadelphia. Every Sunday, my mother would get me and my siblings up, dressed, and out the door for the ½ hour ride to church.
Sundays were always so upsetting and incredibly boring for me. I didn’t really like going to church and resolved that, even though I knew church was somehow important, it was something I would probably enjoy more as an adult. I hated that my friends from the neighborhood would be playing outside on Sunday morning, and by the time I got back from church, changed my clothes, and ready to go outside, most of the day was gone – being that it was a school night and everyone would go home early.
Throughout my years growing up, I learned a lot about God, could explain Christian theological doctrine, concepts, and scriptures like a biblical scholar (relative to the average person), but this “knowledge” of God was largely head knowledge, lacking a spiritual and intimate connection to God through experience. Church for me was not a place to go and worship the God that I so-called served, but more a place to socialize, gossip, and hang with my girlfriend.
My pseudo-spirituality had severe consequences on my decision making and the overall way I governed my life. I made poor decisions physically, mentally, and sexually. By 19 years old, I had my first child – a son, named Ziyon. Having chosen not to pursue post-secondary education, I was left to working hard-labor factory jobs that didn’t pay well enough to support a family.
Consequently, I turned to other outlets for cash flow. I attempted a few online businesses that, whilemildly successful in the short-run, ultimately failed. Not willing to give up, I took my younger brother up on an offer to try out selling drugs in Atlantic City. After a year-long stint, I was arrested and subsequently convicted and sentenced to prison.
As stereotypical as it sounds, while in prison, I began to read the Bible – something I’d never done, intently, in my life. Reading the Word of God everyday led me to pray, opening up my heart to God in a way that I never have. I worshipped God. I experienced God. I believed in God. I went from knowing “of” God, to knowing Him personally. It was at this point that I realized how simple faith is, and how my life had taken turns for the worst unnecessarily.
Paul highlights the simplicity of faith in Romans chapter 10. It’s as basic as “confessing with your mouth ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believing in your heart that God raised Him from the dead.” Rm 10:9. He quotes theOld Testament Prophet, Isaiah, asserting that a believer can rest certain in the foundation of God, and maintains that the Lord is Lord of all, and RICHLY blesses all who call on him.
From prison, after beginning my relationship with Him, the Lord began blessing me. I was able to do two years in prison on a six year sentence and be paroled. My entire prison bid was without incident. Through divine intervention, I met a Rutgers history professor who helped me get admitted to the University in 2009, and I just graduated this past May – magna cum laude. I will be attending the University of Cambridge in the UK for my Masters degree, have already secured gainful employment upon my return in 2014, and am engaged to my beautiful fiancée, Ashley, who I will marry in 2015.
All these blessing, and the blessings that I receive from the Lord on a daily basis are constant reminders of God keeping is Word. God is faithful, even when I am not. He has never let me down, let me fail, or brought me to shame. Choosing to believe in God has revamped my perspective, decisions, and trajectory of my life. And since I’ve known God, my life has never been the same.
GUEST BLOGGER FOR JUNE: WALTER