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 too. 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 adulthood was spent clubbing. My friends and I would spend our weekends going from disco to disco. Sometimes I got home from the clubs and then in no time I would be heading into work. Those were the years when I had energy…..lots of energy. It was a giddy experience at first. Oh, the feelings of freedom…..sheer freedom, and friendships.
After a few years of my new found freedom, things began to change. I could be in the same 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 myself transitioning from the world and into a walk with God.
It was a gradual process. I noticed more and more, God’s hand in all that He had created around me. I had the opportunity to travel to India and while my friend and I were traveling around the countryside, we went on a day trip to a place called Jaipur. It was magnificent. You could see for miles around. You could see water palaces, and you could see the expanse of big beautiful mountains. I remembered just standing and drinking in the beauty of the place and thinking what a big beautiful world our Creator had made. And I was surprised by the 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 the church and it seemed to please family members, but it really meant nothing to me. Years went by and at times I would feel 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….most times it was in the way of dreams.
It wasn’t till I fell ill, losing all my energy that I would think of returning to church. One day while at work I had intense pain in my right hip, and life would never be the same after that. All the energy I had was now gone and replaced with excruciating joint and muscle pain. Just like that, my working life would come to an end, and I would be mostly at home in those early years, 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 so God could heal me, so I could go back to doing as I wish.
For the next several years I lived in pain, also 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 now living life fully depressed. My one bright spot was my attentive husband.
Week after week I went to church, but all remained the same. I started to think….there has to be more. Where is this big Mighty God who answers prayers, and why was He not answering mine? One week our minister preached a sermon on “Hidden Treasure.” Matthew 13:44
[ The Parable of the Hidden Treasure ] “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. I decided I would be obedient to God’s word, put my trust in Him, and every promise He gave to the Israelite of old I would also claim them for myself.
It was around this time that I had a dream. It was a dream that I will never forget. I had a dream that 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 had been back in the church for a few years, and at first I was puzzled by His reaction to me. It was only then I realized what God was wanting from me. He wants our full attention, He wants our worship. I had returned 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.
After having that dream I changed my focus from looking outward to looking upward. What I mean is, I stopped looking at all the things around me, only worrying about 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 and leading. Now that I was totally focused on God, a peace and joy came over me. No longer did I feel depressed.
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 to 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 scriptures. The Holy Spirit encouraged me, He comforted me. He is real, He is alive and if we would just give our lives totally to the Lord, He will 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 very thing I resisted before is now what I find to be freeing.
John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
John 14:21 He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
John 15:10 If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
I know what Jesus expect of me. He wants me to walk in His footsteps. He wants me to follow Him. How do I do that? What does it all entail? I do this when I keep His commandments. So what I once found to be restrictive is where I now find my lasting freedom. This is the path I now walk as I strive to follow my Lord on a daily basis.
Health wise I’ve improved a lot. I no longer have constant pain like I once did and I’ve change my diet which also helps. I am also sure that turning my focus to God and by looking to Him and by faith depending on Him, it has also help me tremendously.