I have always prayed to God, for as long as I can remember. As a child, I didn’t go to church every Sunday, but we did go occasionally. It was the First Baptist Church and I remember my grandparents singing in front of everyone and Pastor Jay, who was the nicest man. I also remember being bored and not wanting to be there.
I believed in God because I was told to. I didn’t understand the difference between God and Jesus and the Holy Spirit. It was all too much for me. Sometimes we would pray at the dinner table but I didn’t really understand why and I didn’t ask many questions. I prayed because I thought, “better to be safe, than sorry!”
I was very lost during my teenage and early adult years. I didn’t have a solid foundation. I gave my parents a hard time, I snuck out, I drank and smoked, experimented with drugs and I was promiscuous. I was spiraling out of control and no one could stop me. I hung out with the wrong crowd, I was mean and I did a lot of things I regret.
In 2003, I was still very lost, but I was starting to feel a hunger inside of me. I knew something was missing from my life and that I wouldn’t be complete without it, only I didn’t know what “it” was. Something was telling me to go to church. I was at such a low point. I was a single mother, just trying to make it and I felt like church could somehow help me. It certainly wouldn’t hurt! I was desperate for strength and peace of mind and a sense of security.
One Sunday morning, I woke up and walked down to the church in the little town I was living in at the time. For the first time in years, I felt like I had family around me. It felt really good. I decided to try out a different church because I wanted to see what all was out there. Maybe I would have an even stronger connection with a different church. Before I knew it, I was a regular at the Assembly of God.
I continued going every Sunday. I couldn’t help but feel this longing for something more. There was still a missing piece. I would get emotional during service and sob and it felt so good to just let go and let it all out, but I was still searching for something more.
On April 18, 2003 I went to the Easter Cantata program at a much bigger church in the city. I was captivated. I was completely overwhelmed with emotion. As “Jesus” was dying, I couldn’t control my tears. My entire body was covered in goose bumps. I was shaking, as if I was freezing cold, only I wasn’t. Then “Jesus” rose from the dead and I was crying so loud I was probably embarrassing the people I was next to. The pastor took the stage and asked if there was anyone that would like to come forward and accept Jesus into their life. I didn’t hesitate. I grabbed my son and we walked up to the front of the church, in front of all of those people and I raised my hands and told Jesus that I accepted him into my heart. I accepted Him as my Lord and Savior.
On the way home, I felt such a sense of calm, like everything was just….perfect. A friend had mentioned to me that sometimes, a born again Christian will be shown a miracle or a sign of some sort, to help remove any lingering doubts.
My miracle came that September. I had been diagnosed with the early stages of cervical cancer. I had to have a procedure to remove the cancerous cells. A few days before the surgery, my doctor had to take a biopsy to determine how much of my cervix was to be treated. It was incredibly painful and I was terrified to have the surgery.
Two nights before the surgery, I had this nagging feeling in my gut that I had to make a major change in my life. I didn’t know exactly what it was, but I knew something was telling me that my lifestyle needed improvement. It was like an instinct, a gut feeling. I went to bed that night and I prayed that God would come to me in my dreams and give me the answers I so desperately needed. What did He want me to change? What should I be doing different?
I woke up in the middle of the night, or I thought I was awake. There was a black presence hovering over me, pressing me down into my bed. I believe it was the devil. It was crushing me. I couldn’t move or make a sound. It was awful. Then, from behind the dark being, came a bright light. I could see the outline of a man. Slowly, the light overcame the darkness. I was no longer afraid.
I got out of bed and was very distraught and confused. Was that real? Was I still dreaming? I went downstairs, got out my bible, lit some candles and prayed. Suddenly, I knew what I had to do. I knew what God was saying to me. I didn’t actually hear a voice, but I felt it in my soul. I had to cut someone out of my life. Someone who was not good for me.
The next morning when I awoke, I was calm again. I had clarity. I was at peace. I ended the relationship. As hard as that was to do, I knew without any doubts, that it was the right thing. It was not a healthy relationship and I knew that I was heading down a dark path if I were to continue with it.
The following night, the night before surgery, my doctor called me at home. I remember his voice, still to this day. I couldn’t believe he was calling me at night, at home! He said “Laura, I don’t really know how to explain this but you don’t need to come in for the surgery anymore.” I asked him what he was talking about. I was scheduled for surgery the next day! He told me “it must be a miracle, but your biopsy showed no cancer cells at all. They’re just gone”. This was the moment I had been waiting for. He healed me.
I talk to my friends and family about God a lot and it’s frustrating that I don’t have all the answers. But I do have my missing puzzle piece. I don’t understand every part of the bible. But I now have a solid foundation, always. And I’m still a sinner, as we all are. But now, I know that I am unconditionally loved. I know that I am worthy. I know that I am forgiven. Knowing I am no longer lost, that is faith.