Tuesday, March 15, 2011

The Beginning...

As I've been pondering what is happening in our world lately, I started to feel defeated. If only I had more money, more time, more resources to help those hurting in Japan and then I remembered, I have the best gift of all...prayer. My prayers can change their reality. My prayers can heal their broken hearts. My prayers can protect them from any more devastation. My prayers can provide them with food, water, and shelter. My prayers really can do all of that—but not because they are MY prayers, but because of WHO hears them.

The story I'm about to share on this blog is just that; a story of prayer and it did all of the above for me.  Although the characters and their actions may not always seem to make sense, one thing was always constant. HE heard my prayers. HE did what I asked, not in my time or in the way I thought HE should have, but in HIS time and in HIS way. I hope if you are reading this, you will consider what HE wants to do for you as well.


In the summer of 1999, I was a junior in college. At the age of 13 I was saved and baptized, but somewhere along the way, I lost sight of who I was. Although I'd always been the "good girl" in high school, college was so different, and I felt so small. Leaving behind that small coal mining town nestled in the hills of Southwestern Virginia had always been my dream. When I was 5 years old, I looked at my dad and told him I wanted to go to the University of Tennessee, and I never strayed from that. I always believed I was meant for greater things than I could ever achieve in those mountains...I was a big city girl trapped in a small town. And now that I've traveled the country, I realize Knoxville isn't the BIG CITY I thought it to be upon my arrival, but at that time, having never been farther than 2 hours from home, it was.

As I entered college, I tried going to church a few times, but I never found a place to plug into. All the churches were so big compared to my small country church of 40, so I gave up. I allowed the world around me to shape and mold me into who I thought it wanted me to be. However, I felt so empty. As a teenager, I remember thinking I justed wanted to go somewhere where no one cared who I was or what I was doing. After all, that's life in a small town—everyone knows you, knows your family, knows what you're doing before you've even done it sometimes. But after 4 years of that (I took the 5-year plan for my education), I realized all I really wanted was for someone to care where I was and what I was doing because really that is what we all want. Don't believe me? How often you do you check a social media post to see how many likes of followers you may have gained. The truth is God created us with an inordinate need be loved and accepted—to have relationships and purpose. So at that point, I began searching for a church again. I knew that finding where I belonged was my only hope to overcome the loneliness that overshadowed my soul.

As I began my search, I tried several large churches again hoping to find a place where I'd fit in, but I just didn't. So I started to pray. I asked God to show me where to go, to show me where I would be needed. Around that time, my dad visited and suggested we try to find a church in the denomination in which I had grown up in because I might be more comfortable there to start. So he checked the phone book—clearly before smartphones and Google ruled. As he did that, I remember thinking, "Honestly, he's delusional! Free Will Baptist Churches don't exist in big cities. They were only small town, backwoods churches and there were certainly none in a BIG city. "

When he told me five were listed in the phone book, to say I was dumbfounded is an understatement. He began calling, but there was no answer at any of them, so he left messages. Even more surprising was that only one called back—Wooddale Free Will Baptist.

Now, I'm quite certain if I were to call all of these churches this very day, as a prospective member, that I'd more than likely receive a call back from ALL of them—but that wasn't GOD's plan. HE knew where HE needed me in order for HIS plan to come to pass.

As the phone conversation between Pastor Robert Hobbs and my dad took place, there is only one thing I remember about what was said. At the time the statement seemed ridiculous. Pastor Hobbs' wife, Drema was in the background telling him to tell my dad they had lots of cute, single guys at their church. When dad relayed that message to me, all I remember thinking was, "I don't care about that! I've got to get my life on track with GOD right now! I'm not interested in boys!" They made plans for me to meet Drema just outside the church on my first day and I felt relieved. Finally, maybe this was it—this was the church I could be a part of and figure out exactly who I was supposed to be.

2 comments:

  1. i want to know more!!! keep writing :)

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  2. Raquel- thank you for sharing your experiences with us. I find that I relate so closely with some of your stories and I find great comfort in that. Keep sharing... I'll keep you and your family in my prayers. Love you.

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