I grew up in a Christian home, but what does that really mean? To me it meant nothing but restrictions. Did I really know my Bible or the word of God? No……I would attend church week after week only because I had to. As I grew older I would leave the church for good, and I was happy to do so. My life was now one of freedom……total freedom, with no one to restrict me. My teenage years and young adult life was spent going from club to club and sometimes I would go straight into work after a night of clubbing. At this period in my life I had energy, lots of energy and this was the way I chose to use it. It was a giddy experience at first, oh the feelings of freedom, sheer freedom and friendships.
After living like this for many years, things began to change. I could be in the a room with loud raucous music, with my friends around me, yet I felt alone. I felt lonely! It was shocking to me that I could feel lonely in a room filled with people, but that’s the way it was. I would stop going to clubs after a while, but it would be many years before I would find my way into a church and into the arms of God, for the first time.
It was a gradual process as I noticed God’s hand in all that He had created around me. I had the opportunity to travel to India, at that time it was a place of extremes, either you were rich or you were poor. My friend and I were travelling around the country side and we visited a place called Jaipur. It was magnificent. We could see for miles around. We saw water palaces and we saw the expanse of big beautiful mountains. I remember just standing and drinking in the beauty of the place and thinking of what a big beautiful world our Creator had made. I was surprised by the unexpected tears flowing from my eyes. I hadn’t thought of god in such a long time.
I would travel some more just having fun along the way. The odd time I would visit church and it seem to please family members, but it really meant nothing to me. Years went by and at times I felt as though I was being drawn to come back to the church, but I was not ready. The drawing I felt was coming from Jesus, and most times it was in the way of dreams. It wasn’t till I feel ill, losing all my energy, that I would think of returning to church. One day while at work I got an intense pain in my right hip, and life would never be the same after that. All my energy I had was now gone; replaced by excruciating joint and muscle pain. Just like that my working life would come to an end and I would be housebound hardly able to move. Only now did I think about going back to church, and even so, it was for my own selfish reasons. Perhaps god could heal me, so I could go back to doing as I wish.
For the next several years I lived in pain, going from doctor to doctor. It took some time to be diagnosed with lupus and other autoimmune issues. Now all I could think of was my health issues. No one seemed to understand, and as a result I was living life fully depressed. My one bright spot was my attentive husband. I think that if I was married to anyone else, I may have been kicked to the curb. Week after week I went to church, but all remained the same. I started to think, that there has to be more. Where is the Big Mighty God who answers prayers, and why was He not answering mine?
One day our Minister preached a sermon “Hidden Treasure” Matthew 13:44 “Again the Kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and hid; and for joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.” I decided I wanted to find my treasure, and I would search the pages of the bible until I found it. I started reading the bible from cover to cover, and I decided I would be obedient to God’s Word, put my trust in Him, and every promise He gave to the Israelites of old, I would also claim them for myself.
It was around this time that I had a dream. It was a dream I will never forget. I dreamt I met Jesus. I was taken to meet Him and introduced to Him by the angels. I will never forget the sound of His voice. His voice was quivering, and from the sound of it, I knew He was crying. He said to me, “Leola, you finally came. I have waited for you for so long.” By this time I was back in the church for a few years, and I was puzzled by His reaction to me. I then realized what God was wanting from me. He wants our full attention, He wants our worship. I had return to church for my own selfish reasons. I prayed for healing for me, I worried about me, and why God wasn’t doing anything for me. I would also think; “Why is everyone treating me this way, why don’t they like me? They are so horrible the things they are doing.”
After having that dream, I changed my focus from looking outward to looking upward. What I mean is, I stopped looking at the things around me, only worrying about me, and worrying about what others thought of me, and I started looking upward to God. Once I placed my focus fully on God, I started to sense a closer relationship developing. It is at this time that I sense the Holy Spirit’s guiding. Now that I was totally focus on God, a peace came over me. Often we speak of that Still Small Voice, and many times I would sense that Voice speaking to my heart, to my mind, to my soul. At first I could not understand, but I decided I would step out in faith and to believe that I was being guided by the Holy Spirit. I was now familiar with the Bible and I knew that the Holy Spirit would only lead according to the Bible. The Holy Spirit encourages, He comforts. I know, because these are the things He did and is doing for me. He is real, He is alive, and if we would just give our lives totally to the Lord, He would fight all our battles for us.
It is only now I have found the freedom that I was seeking. It is a freedom that brings joy and peace to my heart. The laws which I once viewed as restrictive are now the ones giving me a lasting sense of freedom and a more fulfilling life. The worldly freedom which I once sought after turned out to be the one that made me feel very empty and limited.