Tag Archives: Sunday School

Serendipity

Image Credit: http://kellieelmore.com/2013/03/01/fwf-free-write-friday-word-prompt-3/

Hallelujah! As soon as I saw this word, the spirit within me rose up, and I knew that I had to respond to this #FWF Free Write Friday: Word Prompt
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Do you know what it’s like to spend your whole life longing for purpose? Did you ever long to know that there was some reason for your existence? Yes, some people believe that we’re here by accident, but I’ve never bought into that theory. 

You see, I’m one of those people who believe in absolutes. I believe in black and white… I believe in the existence of good and evil… I believe in absolute rights and absolute wrongs… 

I believe that every man, woman and child was created and placed here on this earth for a very specific reason. I truly believe that every human being was created by God Almighty, and that before He even formed us in our mother’s womb, He had a plan for our lives, and I would like to share His plan for my life with you.

You see, while I have always believed in God, I didn’t always believe that everyone was created for a specific reason. I didn’t believe this, because for much of my life, I felt that I was a mistake. Indeed, there was a time that I hated to even look in the mirror, because I did not like the person looking back at me. I thought that person was an ugly mistake, and I tried for many years to mold myself into someone more acceptable. 

Image Credit: http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/829.html

For many years, I tried to be the person my parents wanted me to be, but I was destined for failure, because that was not who God created me to be. When I would meet people that I admired, I would try to take on the personality traits that I admired. I have a friend who is very meek and soft-spoken, and I tried very hard to be like her. The problem with that was that I am neither meek nor soft-spoken. I can be very loud and opinionated, which does not work well when you are trying to be meek and soft-spoken. 

For so many years, I didn’t know who I was, or what I was here for, and I envied those who had purpose in their lives and walked confidently and comfortably in their skin. I spent so much of my life trying to be acceptable to my family, to the people I looked up to, and to the people that I went to church with, and the truth is, I was miserable, though I was very careful not to let anyone see it.

Then, out of nowhere, as I was preparing for a Sunday School lesson that I was about to teach, I had the serendipity of discovering a truth that changed my life forever! 

13 For You formed my inward parts; You wove me in my mother’s womb. 14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. 15 My frame was not hidden from You, When I was made in secret, And skillfully wrought in the depths of the earth; 16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. ~ Psalm 139:13-16 NASB

Image Credit: http://www.heartlight.org/gallery/523.html

God chose to reveal the answer to this problem of my existence that had haunted me all of my life serendipitously, as I prepared to teach a Sunday School lesson to teens. He revealed to me that He formed all of my inward parts, and that He had skillfully woven me together…

That meant that He had deliberately given me buck teeth, which required braces when I was younger. I wasn’t just some ugly freak. He had skillfully created me like that for some reason that I didn’t understand. And the scoliosis that caused me to wear a back brace as a young teenager, He had deliberately created that curvature in my spine. Again, it wasn’t just the result of some freakish accident – this was a result of His divine plan…

Now, here is the most amazing part of all of that:

14 I will give thanks to You, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made; Wonderful are Your works, And my soul knows it very well. ~Psalm 139:14 NASB

Image Credit: http://www.preeminenceofchrist.org/fearfully
_and_wonderfully_made.htm

I am fearfully and wonderfully made… With all of my physical problems, my back problems, the arthritis, the crooked teeth I had as a child, I was and am still fearfully and wonderfully made. I was created in His image. I wasn’t a mistake. He deliberately created me, with my loud voice (it’s the voice of a prophet and preacher), with my strong, uncompromising beliefs (a prophet cannot back down from what the Lord commands him/her to do, no matter what the cost). 

He wasn’t surprised by all of the suffering that I’ve gone through in my life. I’ve been abused, rejected and lied about. I’ve been cursed and ridiculed and belittled. And God not only allowed these things to happen to me, He ordained it!

16 Your eyes have seen my unformed substance ; And in Your book were all written The days that were ordained for me, When as yet there was not one of them. ~Psalm 139:16 NASB

That’s a hard thing for many people to swallow, and you may wonder why I would find comfort in knowing that He ordained all of the painful events in my life, so I will try to explain it to you. 

I was a prison minister for almost ten years, and God allowed me to love and minister to those women because of what I had experienced in my life. You see, if I had never suffered rejection, abandonment, and abuse, I wouldn’t have been able to relate to those women as well as I did. If I hadn’t had those experiences in my life, I may not have had the love and compassion for those women that I have. You see, when I went in the prison to minister to them, I never felt that I was above them. I knew the truth — that it was only by the grace of God that I wasn’t an inmate.

Image Credit: http://www.oneyearbibleblog.com/2008/05/may-17th-one-ye.html

If I hadn’t suffered the things that I’ve been through in my life, I might never have known the love of Christ. I might have never realized how desperately I need Him, if I hadn’t suffered as I did. If I hadn’t suffered the things that I’ve been through in my life, I wouldn’t be the woman that I am today, and I certainly wouldn’t be writing as I do.

You want to know something? As I write this, I’m not even sure this is a good example of serendipity, because the truth is that I didn’t just find this wonderful news without looking for it. The truth is that it found me. God sent His only begotten Son to find me, and if He hadn’t purposefully sought me out, I would never have discovered these wonderful truths.

Can I share just one more thing with you? Did you know that you are fearfully and wonderfully made? Did you know that God skillfully knit you together in your mother’s womb? Did you know that God has an ordained plan for your life? Please don’t let what I’ve shared with you scare you off, because I saved the best news for last.

28 And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose for them. ~ Romans 8:28 NLT

Isn’t that wonderful? Because I love God and I’m called by Him, He makes every bad thing in my life work out for my good! Do you love God? Have you heard Him calling you? If your answer is yes, rejoice! Because He will cause everything to work together for your good too! 

If your answer to that question is no, then I pray that God will open the eyes of your heart, and that He will reveal Himself to you. I pray that you will believe in Jesus, His one and only Son, who died to pay for my sins and yours, so that we would no longer be bound by them. I pray that you will know that even though Jesus suffered, bled and died for the sins of all mankind, He rose from the dead, and is now seated at the right hand of God, and that He is coming back again to reign and rule over all the earth. I pray, in Jesus’ mighty name, that as you read my  post, you serendipitously come to know and love the Almighty Creator of the universe, and that you know that you are no accident.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers

Daily Prompt: Ode to a Playground

A place from your past or childhood, one that you’re fond of, is destroyed. Write it a memorial.
Daily Prompt: Ode to a Playground

I couldn’t believe it when I heard it on the news. I must have misunderstood what was said. Surely the church of my childhood… the church that held such happy memories for me… the church where I first came to know Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior couldn’t have burned. I hadn’t been there since I was around fifteen or sixteen years old, but I always had such fond memories of it.

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I remember the first Sunday I attended Gethsemane United Methodist Church, in Reliance, MD as though it were yesterday. The day before, some stranger and his wife came to visit my mother and father, and invited my sister and me to ride on a church bus to this church. I couldn’t believe my parents said yes! They didn’t even know these people, and they had agreed to let them take my sister and me on this bus.

Although I was only around ten or eleven at the time, I had a vivid imagination, and I was very distrustful of people and their motives. I was certain these seemingly nice people were going to get my sister and me on that bus, then kidnap and murder us. The whole ride to church, as the bus would stop and pick up more and more children along the way, Mr. W. stood at the front of the bus, singing songs about Jesus and laughing and smiling. It was really a lot of fun, but I wasn’t about to let my guard down. I didn’t trust these strangers, not one little bit.

I was surprised and relieved when we reached the church, but I was still suspicious. “They probably brought us here in case our parents call to check up on them,” I thought to myself. “They’re probably going to kill us on the way home from church.” Praise God, they obviously didn’t kill any of us, or I wouldn’t be sitting here writing my story for you. Nevertheless, when we were safely delivered to our house that afternoon, after enjoying Sunday School, church and snacks afterward, I continued to be suspicious of them. Perhaps their plan was to win our parents’ confidence, and then, after several months, they would kill us. I remember, I was so distrustful, that I imagined different scenarios of our kidnapping and murder, and I would daydream, imagining different ways in which we might escape.

Eventually, over the months, I began to let my guard down and trust these people, who seemed to genuinely love us and care for us. I couldn’t believe that they really cared for me… my sister, yes, because she was cute and sweet and everything that I wasn’t. I remember how I hung out with some of the tougher girls, those who at the tender young age of twelve or thirteen had already had many boyfriends — and some of their boyfriends were actually men, not boys. I remember that I envied those girls, because they were so much prettier than me, attracting grown men!

As I reflect on these memories now, I am grateful to the Lord for guarding and protecting me, at a time in my life when I was so vulnerable and needy. I remember cursing and swearing with one of the girls, and going behind the community house to smoke cigarettes, because I so wanted to be cool and fit in… and be liked by the boys. I tried to act tough like one of the other girls in particular, whose name, like mine, was Cheryl, and I would be so disrespectful, because I needed to be accepted by someone… And there on that church bus, was Mr. and Mrs. W., who continually showered their love on me.

No matter how bad or disrespectful I was, they treated me with love. I can remember Mrs. W. looking up at me one time, when I had behaved so terribly, with such a look of unguarded love on her face, that it left me feeling ashamed… She acted like she really loved me, but how could that be? At home, when I was bad, my own parents cursed me and called me stupid, dumb@$$, worthless… But here, at church, when I really behaved terribly, Mrs. W. still acted like she loved me. When I misbehaved, she didn’t act like she was angry with me at all… Instead, she looked at me with her pretty, expressive brown eyes that looked as though she was hurt and ready to cry, and continued to love me.

I didn’t understand these church people, but I admired them and loved them, and I wanted to be like them. I remember one Sunday in church, when I was around twelve or thirteen years old, the minister preached a message, and I was compelled to move forward toward the altar, while the hymn, Just As I Am, was being sung by the congregation. There, at that wooden altar, with the red velvet cushions, I knelt on my knees, and asked Jesus to come into my heart and save me and deliver me from evil.

That afternoon, I couldn’t wait to get off the church bus and share the good news with my parents. I remember running into the house and breathlessly telling my mom that I was born again. That really irritated her, and she told me that if I was going to start acting religious like Mr. and Mrs. W., she wasn’t going to let me go to that church anymore. I was devastated. Mr. and Mrs. W. were good, loving people. Why shouldn’t I be like them?  I didn’t talk about Jesus to my mom and dad until many, many years later, when I was a grown woman.

I have such fond memories of Gethsemane United Methodist Church, in Reliance, MD, and although the fire completely destroyed the church on May 11, 1998, my memories of it remain intact. A couple of years later, the church was rebuilt, not on the same site as the original structure, but across the street from it. The new church is quite lovely, and although it is a brick structure, it bears no resemblance to the original. Nor does it invoke the same feelings that the original one did.

I pray that the people in this new Gethsemane will impact the lives of men, women and children as the people from the old one changed my life. To the old structure, I reluctantly bid a fond farewell.

© 2013
Cheryl A. Showers