This was the second 7-hour drive that I had made in a two-week span. However, it wasn’t a trip that I was willing to miss out on. Between launching a new ministry, and my struggle to stay on top of my statistics homework, I was beyond exhausted. Nevertheless, I packed my bags, hopped in my car and drove off to El Paso, Texas.
Approximately three years ago, I found myself dragging my soul through the darkest corridor I’ve ever traveled through. It didn’t help that I created this mess myself. Somewhere along the line of trying to navigate life outside of my calling and the challenges that come from being part of a blended family, I simply stopped fighting. I simply stopped showing up to life. Instead of staying at the helm of my ship, I let circumstances dictate my, and my family’s, destiny. Simply state, I opted to stand on the sidelines and watch my life deteriorate right before my very own eyes. Instead of reaching out to God, I chose to self-medicate in unhealthy ways. Before I realized all I had done, I found myself stuck in an icky pile of shame and trapped in my own personal Gehenna. Somehow, I convinced myself that if my family and friends knew about this, they would never forgive me. Soon I found myself hiding behind the fakest smile that I have ever worn. To make matters worse, I bought into the lie that no one would ever discover the condition of my soul. I held on to the lie, with all my might, as if it were gospel-truth. I did so until the day that all my secrets came to light….. and just like that, the kingdom that I had created came crashing down like the walls of Jericho at the sound of a trumpet.
The first few months navigating through what remained of my kingdom was a scary time for me. It felt much like the time, in my childhood, when my brother had dared me to walk through a muddy field after it was irrigated. I wasn’t sure if I was more scared of sinking, slipping, or my Dad’s belt when he found out what we were up too. Stepping back on solid ground, although safer, still posed its challenges. Walking with your shoes and pants caked with mud is a slow process. It doesn’t feel good and it doesn’t look pretty. Nevertheless, as a child I knew that I could pray, and as an adult I knew that I could turn to God too. Although my faith in God was solid, I knew that prayer didn’t protect me from a whooping as a child, and it wouldn’t protect me from the consequences of my choices as an adult either. All I could do is patiently wait and turn to God.
During the waiting period, I came across information about a men’s conference taking place at a neighboring city. The church, Vino Nuevo, is a Spanish congregation in El Paso, TX. Although, I hadn’t spent much time immersed in a Spanish speaking community, I thought I’d give it a try. The only problem is that I didn’t have very many Spanish speaking friends. If I chose to attend, I would have to attend alone.
Not sure of what to expect, and not knowing anyone, I chose to sit alone. Due to my circumstance, the only expectation of mine was to meet with God… and without anyone, or anything to distract me, that is exactly what happened. By the end of the conference, I was able to gain hope and sense of direction. Which for me at the time, was worth more than all the gold in the world.
Stepping into the conference this year was a completely different experience. Upon walking into the conference, I was greeted by a band of brothers that have partnered with me in my new journey in life. These gentlemen have prayed for me, encouraged me, and supported me as I have started on the path of ministry again. One of the men, Pastor Cesar, from Rocky Point, Sonora, has been more present in my life than many friends who live in the same city as I. He is the friend that I hang out with most frequently, and he lives four hours away from me, in a different country. Our friendship has led to me ministering, across the border and in my current church, in a language that I was once scared to master.
Stepping into the conference was a reminder of God’s grace and faithfulness. Although I had abandoned him in my heart, he did not once abandon me. Although I distanced myself from his people, he sent them out to find me. Although I ran from my calling, he placed in me a fresh desire, along with a new language, to speak of his goodness and grace.
I’m grateful to God. I’m grateful for His people. I’m grateful for His reconciliation. I’m grateful for His grace.
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