Thursday, April 26, 2012

Touched By the Divine - Althea Bailey, Part II

December was a difficult month for Althea.  She had just ended the relationship with her boyfriend in November, and now she was dealing with her parents' pending divorce.  She had begun attending church, which was helping her to cope, but there were still days when the burden of her sadness took over. 

Christmas Eve was one of those days.

She kept thinking about how different Christmas dinner was going to be, now that her parents had decided to part ways.

"I woke up in the morning depressed, not wanting to get up", she told me.  "Crying again to God (I asked) 'Why?'.  I had faith in Him, but my spirit was weak".

She began questioning God about her circumstances, and then did exactly what she had done the last time that she was feeling this way.  She asked God to reveal himself and to provide her with his comforting presence once again.

"As I lay in bed crying, I knew I wasn't alone.  And no sooner did I ask, did a bright ray of SUN start to shine on me in my bed.  My blinds weren't even open, but the sun was shining directly on me and I felt it was God".

Again, Althea wondered if she was just imagining things.  Had God really just shown her a sign of His presence with the SUN?  She doubted her experience, and told herself that she was probably just making things up in order to help herself through the pain. Since she was feeling a little bit better, however, she decided to get out of bed. 

Later that evening, as she was relaxing on the couch, she grabbed her lap top to check Facebook.  As she was scrolling through her notifications, she saw a message in her inbox from a friend.  When she clicked it open, she realized that her friend had also sent a previous message, that she hadn't yet read.  It was a scripture sent to encourage her, back when she was preparing for her grad school interview in November.

The scripture was Psalm 84:11.  Althea opened her Bible to find it.

When she began to read, she started crying in awe...

The verse read, "For the Lord God is a SUN and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory..."

She now knew that she wasn't crazy.  Her experiences were real!  God was the one who had taken away her back pain and calmed her down, just weeks before, and now God was the one who had comforted her again,  by covering her with the sun's rays that very morning, to demonstrate His presence.  She marveled at God's impeccable timing.

"I wasn't supposed to read the message that (my friend) sent at any other time, but that evening. God is so purposeful and so amazing! ", she shared.

The realization of God's tangible presence sparked a new excitement in Althea.  She had been attending church every Sunday, but hadn't officially joined yet out of fear that she wasn't ready.  But as the weeks went on, there was an urging in her spirit that said, "Stop visiting and join!". 

So the following morning, on Christmas day, when the pastor extended an invitation to those who wanted to give their lives to God and join, she considered accepting the invitation.  But the old fear crept in again, and she told herself, "Althea, wait 'til New Year.  You're not ready yet".

No sooner than the thoughts entered her mind, did the Pastor say, "I know there are those of you who are saying you'll wait till the New Year, but God wants you now. The New Year may not be promised to you".  

Althea knew that there was no denying that God was trying to tell her something.
She responded to the invitation, and joined the church that very day.
As she was filling out the paperwork, one of the greeters asked her if she'd ever had a water baptism.  When Althea told her that she hadn't, the greeter asked her to give her a date on which she could schedule the baptism.

Althea started to get nervous. "I pictured being baptized as being on 'lock down' ", she shared, laughing. "Saved, sanctified, the old world is no more... so I told the greeter, 'I'm not ready for that yet, I'll get back to you' ".

Despite backing out of a scheduled baptism, Althea couldn't stop talking about God the following week.

She used to be the girl at work that circulated inappropriate e-mails to her fellow female co-workers.  Now, she was the girl at work who was talking about the blood of Jesus and the goodness of God.

A friend finally stated the obvious. "Althea, I think you're ready to get baptized".
But still, Althea hesitated and responded with,  "No, I'm not ready yet".
She decided, instead, to find a Bible study to attend.

One of her friends invited her to come along to a Bible study that she was going to.  At the Bible study, Althea was given a book about the Holy Spirit.  The discussion began, and the topic happened to be-- Baptism.  Althea's friend said to her, "See girl.  God is trying to tell you to go get baptized!"

But Althea resisted.  She reasoned that it was just a coincidence that the Bible study topic was on baptism.  She left the study that night with her book, intent on understanding more about this "Holy Spirit business".

When she got home, she began reading and became intrigued by the story of Jesus fasting in the wilderness.  Since she was still a fairly new Christian, she didn't know where to find the story in the Bible, so she called a Pastor friend who she'd recently become reacquainted with.

He told her, "Oh, you can find that story near the beginning of all of the gospels".
Feeling embarrassed that she didn't know what a gospel was, she asked, "Which one would you recommend?"

He recommended the book of Matthew.

As she began reading, Matthew 6: 25 - 33 jumped out at her.
Do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body, what you will wear... Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?...See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin.  Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these.  If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?... But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.
Even though she had been excited about her new found faith, she was still broken and hurt over her failed relationship, as well as her parents' decision to divorce.
This scripture was exactly what she needed to see.

"As I was looking for the story of Jesus in the mountain, God found me", she said. "The words came alive, and I started to cry.  He had been giving me all of these bread crumbs because He knew... He gave me answers because He was anticipating my questions".

Althea prayed to the Lord, telling Him that she wouldn't worry about her circumstances.  She did, however, express how nervous she was about meeting the expectations of being a Christian. "It's so hard to serve you.  Especially as a young person", she prayed.

God gave her another bread crumb.  Matthew 7: 7, 8
 Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives; the one who seeks finds; and to the one who knocks, the door will be opened.
And then another bread crumb.  Matthew 7: 13, 14
Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it.  But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.
She continued reading her book about the Holy Spirit. 

"As I was reading, I learned that when you want to give your life to God, you need to surrender.  You ask Him to fill you with His Holy Spirit.  I didn't even fully understand what the Holy Spirit was.  But it sounded good, so I prayed for it.  I prayed everyday, 'Lord, give me your Holy Spirit' ".

And the more she prayed, the more God touched her life...

Please continue on by reading "Touched By the Divine - Althea Bailey, Part III"


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Unknown said...

Wow, amazingly beautiful. God is so good and His mercy endured forever

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