RELIGION: Lift up your eyes

Growing up as a bi-racial child in the early 80’s wasn’t a popular choice, but I had no choice at all. My mom was white and dad was black. My dad physically abused my mom and older siblings, but because I was the baby, non-of that was inflicted on me. In fact, I have three vivid memories of my dad who would ultimately pass away when I was 13. I was 2 years old when my mom divorced him and he never was involved in our lives.

I can’t fathom the decision of parents who abandoned their children. My mom was a strong believer and loved the Lord very much. She taught myself and older sister to do the same. Although there were many feelings of abandonment due to my natural father, I had a relationship with my Heavenly Father that superseded those feelings. God gave me strength to overcome abandonment.

Experiencing prejudice throughout my childhood in small town Iowa wasn’t my choice either. Attempting to erase the brown from my skin, which clearly didn’t work (haha), not knowing if our house was going to get vandalized or counting how many derogatory names I was called in a day became fears of mine. I had a relationship with my Heavenly Father that uprooted those fears. God gave me strength to overcome fear, anxiety and prejudice.

I was kicked out of Bible college and literally homeless for an action that wasn’t worthy of such a response, in my opinion of course. I was rejected by the very people that should operate in love and forgiveness. I turned to drugs, alcohol, the “bar” scene and women. I knew I wasn’t living right and many nights would cry out to God and yet He would still speak to me in those dark places. God gave me strength to overcome rejection and addiction.(Interesting how those two words seem to go well with each other, rejection and addiction.)

As I became a husband and struggled with jealousy/rage and my marriage was on the verge of divorce, rather than “throwing in the towel”, God used the unlikely circumstances of financial struggle to draw my wife and I closer together. God gave me strength to overcome generational attachments and taught me how to love my wife.

I wanted to share some of my story with you and just some examples of where victory in areas of my life wouldn’t be had if it weren’t for Jesus. The things God has given me strength to overcome are numerous. God isn’t looking for perfect people, He is looking for those who will serve Him with all of their heart, mind and strength, those who are willing to follow Him.

Regardless of your background, your situation, your pain and your hurt, there is a God who loves you. I had a deep understanding that no matter what I went through, God would go before me and help me overcome.

If you are going through a difficult situation or circumstance, I want to encourage you with this.

Psalm 121:1-2

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills from where comes my help. My help comes from the Lord, which made Heaven and earth.”

Those that follow Jesus and believe can confidently say our help comes from the Lord because He has given us strength time and time again. This newspaper could be filled of times where God has intervened on my behalf time after time after time.

If you are reading this and don’t have a relationship with Jesus but desire that same hope, Romans 10:8-9 says,

“But what says it? The word is near you, even in your mouth, and in your heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; that if you shall confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and shall believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.”

There is much to be said after you have made the choice to follow Jesus. Understand that making the decision to follow Jesus doesn’t make life easier and doesn’t mean you won’t experience hardship, in fact, it’s likely you could face more challenging times. The difference is the inability to overcome difficult circumstances on your own versus your ability to overcome difficult circumstances by and through the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus empowers us to overcome!

Repent and turn from your sins, look up at the vastness of the sky today or tonight, look at creation around you, the birds of the air, feel the breeze on your face and as you do, understand the Creator of Heaven and earth loves you and desires a relationship with you. Turn to Him and lift your eyes up from where your help comes from.

Have a great weekend.