Testimony

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Fishers of Men

In the books of Matthew and Mark, Jesus tells Simon and Andrew that if they follow Him, He will make them “fishers of men.” Why would becoming fishers of men be of interest to a couple of fishermen? They were fishers of fish! And just how does one go “fishing” for men anyway? What bait should be used? How big would the hook have to be? Herein lies the story of one such man, or should I say “fish,” and just how it was that Jesus was able to catch him.

As a fisherman myself, there are several things you need to know in order to have a successful fishing trip. Without knowing what you are fishing for, how can you possibly succeed? The following is a short list of things one needs to know in order to catch fish.

  1. Know where the fish are.
  2. Know what equipment you will need.
  3. Know what fish like to eat.
  4. Know when fish like to eat.
  5. Know how to “present” the bait…the lure.

I have discovered that fishing for men is no different than fishing for fish. You don’t even need a license! And you can fish for them year round! In season and out of season. You just can’t keep them or fillet them. It’s strictly catch and release.

fishers of menWhen God set out to “catch” me, He knew everything about me. My deep, dark secrets, all of the mistakes I had made. He knew what things interested me. He knew the things I craved and the things I thought about when the lights were out and I was all alone. Points 1, 3 and 4 in the list above were already taken care of. He still needed Point #2 though…the right equipment.

Enter a good-looking, well-constructed woman onto the scene. Right equipment? Check! Presentation? Check! God had everything in place to catch me and I was totally oblivious to what was going on. I couldn’t even see the hook! That’s because The Holy Spirit cannot be seen.

Unbeknownst to me, the new friend in my life was a Christian. And she was fishing, just like Jesus had taught her to do. And NOT the way the world teaches.

The day of my transformation was January 15, 2006. I was sitting in church with my wife, the result of a guilt trip my new friend had laid on me. Or should I say the Holy Spirit did. I heard a message that day from the pulpit that was exactly what I needed to hear and I became a believer in Jesus Christ right then and there.

Psalm 37:4 says:

“Delight yourself in the Lord, and he will give you the desires of your heart.”

Psalm 37:4

That is SO true. One of the first things I felt convicted about when I came to believe was not being a godly father to my children. I had failed them AND God in my opinion. But God is a God of many chances. And what do you think He would have me do? How about a volunteer with a youth group. My children were grown and out of the house but suddenly I had dozens of kids to guide and mentor. It was perfect. It was SO God.

Many wonderful relationships came out of the time I spent with those kids. And God was true to His promise. He gave me the desires of my heart. Both of my kids now go to church each week with their spouses – a blessing indeed! Do they believe? I can’t tell that, only God can. But the chances sure a better sitting in a pew rather than a recliner at home!

There is great joy in becoming a fisher of men. You should try it some time. I did. Oh, how I love to watch God pursuing these young people! They are a tricky fish to catch but God is a pro angler. He can even catch fish using old rusted equipment like me – a grandfather” to the next generation.

fishers-of-menHave you ever noticed what letter a fish hook looks like. Coincidence? I think not!

“Simon Peter said to them, “I am going fishing.” They said to him, “We will go with you.” They went out and got into the boat, but that night they caught nothing. Just as day was breaking, Jesus stood on the shore; yet the disciples did not know that it was Jesus. Jesus said to them, “Children, do you have any fish?” They answered him, “No.” He said to them, “Cast the net on the right side of the boat, and you will find some.” So they cast it, and now they were not able to haul it in, because of the quantity of fish. That disciple whom Jesus loved therefore said to Peter, “It is the Lord!”
– John 21:3-7

 

Victory Over Infertility
And The Word Became Flesh and Dwelt in our Household

VICTORY OVER INFERTILITY ISSUES

We were married in 1982. At 20 and 22 years of age, we weren’t real sure what direction we wanted our lives to go in, but one thing we knew for sure was that we wanted children.

Although we discussed the topic briefly, the question of whether we could have children or not never came up. There was no reason for it to come up. Having children was the natural progression of life for us….or so we thought.

In the beginning, there was no sense of urgency to get pregnant. We knew it would happen eventually. In the meantime, we enjoyed unwrapping this new gift of marriage that we both were complete novices at.

A year came and went fast. We were still enjoying our new marriage but in the back of our minds we were beginning to wonder why there hadn’t been any signs or symptoms of pregnancy.

At the start of year number 2, we decided to make getting pregnant a priority, although at the time I didn’t know (and still don’t know) what more we could have done on our own to make it happen.

6 more months went by. 2 ½ years into married life and a little sense of anxiety began to set in each month. And each month our disappointment grew more and more.

We both made appointments with our doctor to find out if there was something medically wrong that was prohibiting us from having children.

After months of testing, our doctor told us that more than likely we would never be able to have children.
After months of testing, our doctor told us that more than likely we would never be able to have children. To this day I don’t remember how or why he came to that conclusion. Maybe the explanation was given to us and we were in such a fog that we mentally checked out after his opening remarks. On a positive note, at least we knew indeed that there was some sort of medical reason for our failed attempts.

We both got the feeling that our doctor was tired of seeing us. It was almost as if he thought we would have given up on the issue of having kids over the months that he had been seeing us. It felt like we put him in the uncomfortable position of having to tell us that there was no hope, because we were too stupid to give up on our own.

We shook our doctor’s hand and thanked him for spending as much time on/with us as he had over the previous months. There wasn’t a lot said in the car on the way home after the appointment that afternoon.

My wife had been raised in the church. I on the other hand had been a Christian for less than a year. In most instances, spiritual immaturity when you’re heartbroken and disappointed over life taking you in a direction contrary to where you want to go can be devastating. For me, this “challenge” provided an adrenaline rush.

Looking back on it now, I can see that I had several things going in my favor.

  • I had an insatiable thirst for the Word of God.
  • I had not been “churched” yet. Meaning that I hadn’t been around enough Christians to tell me that simply believing what the Word of God says is no guarantee that prayer will be answered.
  • I had an amazing Pastor/mentor during this first major test of my faith.

When we got home from the doctor’s office we talked about what we were going to do. I knew what I wanted to do; I suppose I just needed to know what direction my wife wanted to go in.

Praise God we felt the same about the situation! While we believed in medical science, we knew that medical science isn’t always the last word. God placed the desire for children in our hearts. These feelings weren’t something we conjured up on our own. I knew in my heart that there was no way I was going to be denied the son that I had looked forward to having since before I was married.

First things first

During this time in my life I was working on a job with split shifts. My lunch break was 3 hours long. I spent my lunchtime alone at San Antonio Park in Long Beach, CA soaking up the Word of God each and every day. I was captivated by it. Not counting the time I spend at church in the Sunday services and in midweek bible studies, I was getting 15 hours per week of good solid bible teaching.

Before we went before the Lord, I knew we had to build a foundation upon which to build our prayer. If the foundation for prayer wasn’t laid clearly and correctly, the enemy could cause doubt to creep in later on.

We searched the scripture and found Deuteronomy 28:11 (And the Lord will cause you to abound in prosperity in the fruit of your body…) and Psalm 37:4 (Delight thyself in the Lord and He shall grant thee the desires of thy heart) and we used them as our foundational scriptures.

We took our prayer before the Lord and settled our faith using 1 John 5:14-15.

Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
1 John 5:14-15

We left our prayer closet joyfully, knowing in our hearts that it was done.

Faith that Stands the Test of Time

1 year came and went. With each day, we thanked God for answered prayer, acknowledging that our son was on the way.

The 2nd year came and went. Still no signs of pregnancy. We shared our hopes and dreams with those around us. This was a big mistake. Those around us couldn’t see the vision we had of overcoming the challenge of infertility; therefore they inadvertently became more of a hindrance to our faith than allies of ours.

2 years and 6 months came and went. Now I’m beginning to get ticked off. My faith in God and His Word was growing by leaps and bounds. I knew that we were going to have a son and I was ticked off at the enemy for interfering with what I knew the will of God was for our lives.

Strictly as an act of rebellion, I remember coming home from work and proposing an idea to my wife. We first sat down and assessed where our fatigue level was, spiritually speaking. After all, it had been 2 1/2 years with no sign of answered prayer. I knew I was stronger now than I was when we began, but it was important for me to find out where her faith level was because I was about to take things to a new level.

delight-verse3I posed a series of questions to her first (so that she wouldn’t think that I was off my rocker!) I asked her, ”We prayed for a baby correct?” She replied yes. “We prayed for a son, correct?” She replied yes…

Well then if we can pray for a baby and believe, based on scripture that we will have one and if we can pray for a son and expect to receive one, then why can’t we pray and ask God for certain physical and personality traits that we want him to have?

What I meant was that if we can pray for the particular sex of the child, why can’t we pray and ask God for a certain complexion, eye color, personality trait etc.?

This type of prayer may seem presumptuous to some but you have to remember that all the time I was spending reading through God’s Word didn’t magnify what we can’t do. My eyes were focused on God’s Word and all I could find in there was what we could do. My focus was on scriptures like “All things are possible to he that believes, (Mark 9:23) and He that is able to do exceedingly and abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us (Ephesians 3:20).

I could tell that my wife was kinda skeptical, but after a few days of milling over the limitlessness of God, she excitedly got on board and we went before the Father with a modification request to our original prayer.

My wife and I prayed for our son to have hazel eyes. We prayed for him to have brown curly hair. We prayed for him to have a light caramel complexion. We prayed for him to have a calm, even demeanor. We prayed that there will be no “terrible two’s” in either our lives or his. We shielded him from birth with the protection of God that would follow him all the days of his life.

Please understand that this new updated prayer had nothing to do with us thinking that we wanted a “pretty” child or a kid that was striking in appearance to others. This new prayer had to do with a rebellious spirit aimed at the forces seeking to stop our blessing from reaching us. This new prayer was us snubbing our noses at the enemy and telling him that the more difficult he tries to make it on us, the bigger the testimony we were going to have at the end of this journey.

My wife and I asked for features in our son that are very difficult for two people with our physical attributes to produce. But at the end of the day, it is the Lord our God who would get the glory for doing what is impossible for man to do.

The 3rd year came and went. The 4th year came and went. The 5th year came and went. Then after 5 years and 6 months, my wife announced to me that she was pregnant. After having lived in anticipation of this moment for so long, the announcement seemed a little anti-climactic. I had lived in a state of expectancy to such a degree that when the day finally came, it seemed as though I had been through it already.

The pregnancy only lasted 8 months. During my wife’s 8th month checkup the doctor discovered the umbilical cord wrapped around the baby’s neck. He said that if she tried to give birth to him naturally, there might be complications so she went in for a planned C-Section.

daddysgirl3Then on December 4th, 1989 the Word of God became flesh in our lives in the form of our son Jonathan Randle Winfield at just under 10 lbs.

The journey which was impossible according to man culminated 5 ½ years after it began and we now have a walking, talking, living testimony of what faith in the Word of God will produce.

And remember that prayer request update that we made at the 2 ½ year mark? Every single thing that we included in the updated prayer request was granted to us. Our handsome young man is now 26 years old with a 5 year old daughter of his own and his own son scheduled to arrive in August, 2015.

Is anything too hard for God?

I can say emphatically NO! The only limits that God has to contend with are those placed upon Him by us. The photo above is of the Word which became flesh in my life, Jonathan Winfield holding his daughter and my granddaughter, Kylie Winfield.

Thank you for allowing me to share this testimony with you. I pray that others will find inspiration and hope in the words they’ve read here.

God's unconditional love
The Unconditional Love of God

I am so grateful for the way God has worked in my life. His love for me has been prevalent throughout my past and present. Even before Christ saved me, the Lord’s hand was protecting me.

I wasn’t always aware of the Father. I used to live life on a whim. I never thought about God. When I was a child, my mother made sure I attended church. So, there was knowledge of Him, but I wasn’t able to feel the connection.

I was shy and full of fear during my adolescence years. The feeling of not fitting in with other teenagers was a persistent battle. That awkwardness led me searching to find something to ease those difficulties.

I discovered alcohol and drugs. They seemed to be a solution, but ended up being a life-threatening problem.

Throughout those teenage years getting drunk and high on drugs was my primary focus. They took priority over school, sports, and even girls. Consumed with constant thoughts of ingesting as much of them as I could handle.

The alcohol caused blackouts leaving me no memory of the way I behaved. I became violent and untrustworthy. Sometimes I would wake up with black eyes. They had to beat me up because I was out of control. The only way I thought I could deal with those painful experiences was to continue drinking. That only made it worse.

The drugs caused me to become anti-social. I would use them to the point of becoming comatose blotting out consciousness. The combination of the alcohol and drugs played havoc with my physical, mental and spiritual health.

I almost didn’t graduate from High School, and I know today this was God doing for me what I couldn’t do for myself. At that time of my life, I would have settled for flunking out because all I wanted to do was get high.

After graduation, I joined the Army. One of my friends convinced me to sign up. We were going to enter the military together, but he backed out and off I went. I didn’t like the armed services. The discipline was tough, and my craving for alcohol was strong. I began plotting ways to get out and my first attempt was going AWL (Absent Without Leave). That got me in trouble.

Again, God’s invisible mercy was working in the background.
I finally did get out and the way I did it was dangerous. I took some medication and wrote a suicide note claiming I took an overdose. They rushed me to the hospital, pumped out my stomach and questioned me about the incident. I told them I wanted out, and they agreed. Again, God’s invisible mercy was working in the background. And I walked out after six months with an honorable discharge.

I returned home. Things didn’t get any better, only worse. See, I had not gotten God’s message yet and continued the road of self-destruction. My morality was becoming a problem because I compromised righteous behavior for wrongful action. I had become a thief and stole other people’s items so I could sell them to support my addictive lifestyle.

Just before my twenty-second birthday, my world came crashing down. The alcohol and drug abuse caught up with me, and I couldn’t stop abusing them. I was desperate to quit, but was unable under my limited power. I was powerless, helpless and devastated.

you (2)Then God’s unconditional love stepped in and rescued me. He had gotten my attention and placed me in the position to find support from others who traveled down that same path. The Lord led me to a Twelve Step program designed to help alcohol and drug addiction. God already knew this was the way I was going to activate my faith.

Over the past thirty years, the unconditional love of God has turned my life completely around. I not only have an active faith in Him, but know how to trust His divine guidance. He has introduced me to His Son Jesus and blessed me with the gift of the Holy Spirit. I’m forever grateful for the way He has allowed me to live in His presence.

By no means have I stayed on the straight and narrow. I retreated into addiction. Eight of those thirty years I lived in misery. I experienced nothing but unremitting pain and suffering from turning away from Christ. I never knew how bad things would get without God’s love and grace. I do now.

Today I understand the only way for me to remain in God’s favor is to be a faithful follower of His righteous path.

There isn’t a day that goes by that I’m not thankful for Christ’s gift of salvation. God has proven to me the difference He makes when I’m humble. All I have to do in understanding it is look into my past and see the miracle He has performed in my life. The impact the Lord has made in my life is extraordinary.

Spiritual Journey
My Spiritual Journey: A Conversion Story

As a child I lived in a secret and holy world. It was as if no veil existed between me and the great mystery. I often played alone in my room while my brothers played football on the front lawn, and my two sisters, a year apart, spent hours together in imaginative play. As if angels surrounded me, a calming solace and quiet hum of silence engulfed this secret world.

Yet, somewhere along my journey, I lost this precious, pious child.

Throughout my life, I often imagined her shipwrecked, abandoned on a distant island where the sun shines all the time. I imagined a tranquil haven like the Garden of Eden — a lush paradise dotted with coconuts, lemons, mangoes, and papayas hanging from trees rooted in rich, ancient soil.

I can’t pinpoint exactly when I lost her. Perhaps it happened when, without warning, my parents left the Catholic Church when I was ten years old. Although I don’t know why they fled the church, I imagined that maybe they broke some of the Ten Commandments.

Or, perhaps I lost my holy self a few years earlier, when at 7 years old, I first went to confession.

I remember sitting on the cold, hard wooden pew outside the dreaded confessional waiting my turn, my heart thumping wildly against my chest.

Slipping my clammy palms under my buttocks, I recited sins I’d been fabricating in preparation for the big day. “I lied to my mother and father. I fought with my brothers and sisters.” When a hunched, elderly woman passed through the confessional’s maroon velvet curtains, making the sign of the cross, my heart jumped. I knew it was my turn.

Moving aside the heavy curtains with my small, damp hands, and squeezing through the thin space into darkness, I entered the tiny wooden room. For a moment I found comfort sitting on an already warmed spot on the hard bench, until the confessional screen screeched opened revealing the dark profile of a shadowed priest. I thought he’d speak, instructing me to begin. Instead, a stale silence stood between us.

Managing to blurt out between chattering teeth, “Bless me father for I have sinned, this is my first confession,” I started a trail of weekly confessional fibs.

For a moment, a blank, chilly silence filled the confessional. My hands and nose now felt frozen, as if I sat in a freezer. I hoped mom would rescue me and bring me home so I could run upstairs to my bedroom, cover my body under warm covers, and wail into my pillow.

Finally, the priest offered instructions for penance, which I didn’t hear because my heart beat too fast and hard. But that night before falling asleep, I knelt by my bedside. With my hands clasped in prayer, I recited The Hail Mary and Our Father a hundred times, praying my lies wouldn’t stain my soul.

nun3But then again, my holy child self might have checked out during catechism class weeks before. About to announce the winners of the Hail Mary spelling contest, my teacher, a stern nun, walked up and down the rows between our desks holding in one hand a delicate hand-painted glass statue of Mary and child, and a cheap plastic one in the other.

Her face, full of dichotomies, confused my visual sensibilities. On one hand, her baby soft skin made her appear approachable and kind – I sometimes wished I could touch her skin ever so gently. Yet, at other times, her perpetual frown rigged between a rigid jawline, and her furrowed brows, and stark, almost black, almond shaped eyes, that somehow reminded me of two shallow baby graves side by side, frightened me to the core of my little soul.

The sweeping sounds of her long, black habit dragged on the floor behind me. How I longed to win another glass statue! Stopping at my desk, she bent her tall, thin body over me, covering me in black cloth. Whispering in my ear she said, “You already won a glass statute last time”, and handed me the plastic one. The statue’s potent, plastic scent reminded me of burning my brother’s green army men when we played war by the fireplace on cold winter Long Island nights.

As she stood tall, her heavy, black habit fell off my body, landing heavy to the floor. I looked up to her as if to say, but I wanted the glass statue. Returning my glance, she looked at me with stone cold black eyes as if to say, don’t be so greedy.

nyc3When I grew up, I left the church and religion far behind.

Dressing for success, pulling up my panty hose and bootstraps, I ventured onward toward the American Dream: a Bachelor of Arts degree, a career in New York City, and finally landing my dream job–producing for a leading television network.

What more could I want? I made it. I got to the top.

Yet, arriving, I asked myself the haunting question,“Is this it?”

I admit, at times, a career as producer for television was exciting, but it was also downright exhausting, and often lonely. I kept up a crippling pace. Endless days of air travel from city to city, lonely nights between soft hotel sheets, criminal hours in edit suites, and far too much take-out food. The highs never seemed to transcend the crashing lows I faced each time I finished a project.

Fantasizing about abandoning my career, I dreamed of living a carefree life on a sailboat, on an island far away.

island3

Pursuing insatiable yearnings for ‘something more’, I traveled the world: Mai Tais in paradise; silky, soft, pearl colored sand, collecting shells on tropical beaches; sipping cappuccinos in cafes on Rome’s ancient cobblestone streets; sitting beneath the Sistine Chapel’s dome shaped ceiling, staring at Michelangelo’s Creation of Adam — wondering.

A hard-working, tough talking acquaintance may have been right calling me a “vacation queen.” The world exhausted me, and I always needed ample vacations to rest from the tug of war I waged with the world.

One dismal winter, I stunned my colleagues by resigning from my promising career as a producer for the Discovery Channel, and within weeks moved west to San Francisco. The laid back city and happy evenings sipping cappuccino in North Beach’s Caffe Treiste, or slumped between bookcases at City Lights bookstore reading the beat poets, appealed to my bohemian spirit.

I thought I reached heaven jogging across the Golden Gate Bridge to Sausalito, and hiking the sweeping, winter green hills of the Marin’s headlands with a view of the city that made my heart soar.

sanfran

However, I missed ‘something’ in my California dreamin’ life that I couldn’t put my finger on.

While waiting for my NIA dance classes to begin at a Sausalito dance studio, I often scanned the bulletin board jammed with flyers advertising spiritual workshops with titles like, Women who Run with the Wolves, Release the Shaman Within, and Dancing with the Goddess.

Soon, jumping aboard the spiritual train, I began a long-winded, circuitous, kaleidoscopic spiritual journey traversing deep and sometimes lonely valleys spanning diverse spiritual traditions and therapies: shamanism, hours of Zen Buddhist meditation, exploring the exotic mysteries of Tibetan Buddhism, Jungian counseling and body-centered therapies, watermelon fasts in the Sierras and twisting in yoga poses to the Beatles.

an incessant yearning for something more and a deep emptiness still pierced my soul.
At first these fascinating spiritual adventures gave me a sense of hope and adventure. I also benefited from stretching my tangled muscles into yogic poses, learning through meditation to slow my racing mind, and unearthing and healing buried childhood wounds. Yet, an incessant yearning for ‘something more’ and a deep emptiness still pierced my soul.

Even after I married and became a mother, loneliness and restlessness tagged behind.

Until a dream that changed my life.

Only days before, I’d been to our neighbor’s house picking up my son from a play date. A perplexing, contradiction, our neighbor, a Christian who home-schooled her three young children, stood on the porch with a Marlboro in one hand, and a glass of white wine in the other. (No doubt, Chablis from the familiar jug of Gallo, with the spout, hanging off her kitchen counter.) Sponge Bob blared from the television in the living room, where the kids sat in a semi-circle, hunched over, looking zoned out.

My neighbor knew our family was going through a challenging time. This evening, particularly distressed about financial concerns, I felt a heavy weariness hanging from my shoulders like an old, worn bag of laundry. Taking a long inhale from her cigarette, and squinting as if looking right through me, she exhaled, pointing her lips toward the sky so the smoke streamed upward.

Again, she looked at me long and hard, and said, “Kathy, you need Jesus. You need Jesus.”

I didn’t have a problem with needing Jesus, anything with potential to offer help sounded good at that point. I just didn’t know Jesus — or how to need Jesus.

Several nights later I had the big dream.

I stood, a twenty-first century woman in the first century Israeli desert, watching, from afar, the Twelve Disciples walking barefoot through the dry, hot sand in a meditative cadence. Swells of peace, billowing from within like the dust from beneath their feet, rose from a deep, unknown place within me.

Jesus followed behind.

Noticing me watching, Jesus walked toward me. Standing before me, warm pools of agape love poured from his eyes, filling me with an overwhelming sense of contentment.

Then he simply asked, “Would you like to follow me?”

As a child, every night I prayed to the Virgin Mary, and always felt God close. But Jesus? Jesus, the obscure, pitiful man hanging dead on a cross? I didn’t know Jesus. My church emphasized the Mary, not Jesus. When kneeling by my bedside at night, I prayed to Mary.

Yet, after this unsettling dream, when I began studying the historical Jesus and his teachings, I realized his unusual invitation to follow him was a grace infused opportunity to embark on an adventure in a whole new way of living — the way of holiness he taught centuries ago.

Spiritual JourneyIt struck me the way of Jesus is to live a life counter to the American Dream that I had been hopelessly striving for. His invitation meant a life with God as my source of contentment, one filled with rivers of generosity, humility, kindness, forgiveness, and peace – a life that trumped the striving, greed, materialism, worry, anxiety and troubled relationships that plagued my life.

My husband wondered why I was suddenly so peaceful, so content. Where were my anxious phone calls fretting about bills, my late night complaints of discontentment, always wanting ‘something more’? Why, when our life was falling apart did I have such hope? Why did I know everything would be alright, and why did my eyes shine?

In essence, Jesus’ invitation led me to reclaiming the holy child I once was long ago.

This was not an invitation to follow Jesus to some religion, but rather, one to discover the true meaning of religion – religare (Latin) – meaning to bind back.

His invitation was a divine calling to return to God, to my holy self, and to my rightful place in this world as a child of God.

I wanted so much to share this grand journey with you.

photo credit: Peter Kurdulija, Gloria Manna, John K via Flickr cc
I Am Redeemed

It is a beautiful Saturday afternoon as I leisurely walk with my tall, athletic male counterpart on the East Side of Providence, Rhode Island. The local university campus buzzes with activity around us. The day stands out to me, as does the moment itself―as if somehow, one could press pause on a moment in time that is significant in the span of one’s life.

Because he is taller than I, I stride long to keep up to his leisurely pace.

We are having one of a number of conversations that ultimately leads to my conversion. I understand that no man can “convert” another. Only God can birth a spiritual being (John 1:3, 3:6). And that He often uses fragile, hypocritical, imperfect people is a testimony of His amazing grace and ultimate sovereignty.

My friend and I are walking as sunlight pours onto the pavement, spilling gold through green trees, when I suddenly realize that we are three…

Thinking back, until I was twenty-eight, I know I was a wildly liberal, secular-thinking, God-believing, but not God-fearing, humanist. Even before my twelfth birthday, I was reading my mother’s Cosmopolitan magazine, well-versed in the things that this world holds dear. I was not ashamed when a friend who knew me admiringly exclaimed, “You are truly a self-made person!” In fact, I loved it.

If life were a road, I was exceeding all speed limits, heading nowhere and happily discontent with the all- inclusive but illogical philosophy I had come to embrace over time. If I were a car, I would have been a piecemealed hot-rod with an attitude, comprised of stolen parts from all over the world. I would have sped past you on the highway and left you in the dust in my haste to be the first at the finish line. I wouldn’t have even given you a glance as I passed you by, and if I did, it would have been because you were in the way, and I wanted to intimidate you with my fierceness.

The good news of this story is that God meets us wherever we are.

At that moment in time, on that sun-kissed afternoon, my nonsensical beliefs had a head-on collision with an imperfect, but boldly evangelistic Christian.

“Have you ever heard the story of the woman at the well?” he asks me.

I have no idea to whom or what he is referring. I try to stride more effortlessly, as I shrug, anticipating a formal introduction.

He launches into a conversation Jesus had when He and His disciples stopped for water at an ancestral well.

Suddenly, I am standing alone with Jesus. I am part of this story and feel His palpable presence and my own slow awakening. I see nothing but the sunlight’s rays surrounding my friend who recedes into silhouette.

I squint hard into the sun.

 Then Jesus declared, “I, the one speaking to you—I am he.”
John 4:26

Blinking into the light, I feel exposed. My friend is unaware that the Spirit has come alive in me, as we continue our walk and conversation.

“The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit.”
John 3:8

Though I close the door and say goodbye, there will be more conversations in the future. The seed of faith has been planted, watered, and has begun taking root.

I desire more. Always more. This is my weakness, this is my strength.

God was wooing me, drawing me to Himself, longing to give me more, the more I desired―in His way, in His time and, most important of all, on His terms.

On one Saturday afternoon, I walked into the Light of Christ, by which all are laid bare. I came into the presence of the One True Living God while walking on a city street on a sunny afternoon.

Through a number of conversations my friend and I shared over coffee, meals, and mutual common interests, God revealed Himself and invited me into His eternal Kingdom, and I’ve never been the same.

Has the LORD redeemed you? Then speak out! Tell others he has redeemed you from your enemies.
Psalm 107:2

My One Word 365 for 2015 is Redeemed. I share my faith & life journey on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram using these hashtags: #iamredeemed #onwardchristiansoldier