I wake up to the cool air of my room, and the light eagerly peers through the shades to shine directly on my face. A light groan escapes my lips as I say, “I’m getting older.” This was the ritual of my birthday for as long as I could remember. I would gaze at my hands, breathe in deep, and let the last year pass through my lips in a sigh. I know that some people can say that they don’t feel any different when they reach their birthday, but unfortunately, that was not how I remember the last 27. I assess the damage and the wins as if passing this particular point in life was a miracle that I barely attained. I sometimes catch myself thinking, “Still alive old girl? Cool. Let’s keep moving and get another year done.”
As odd as this may sound, a global pandemic was not the reason I suddenly became grateful for birthdays. When I was four years old, I started to visit my great-grandmother’s house in the south. At the time, she still took great care of herself, despite being in a wheelchair, and would fix me cabbage at lunch. I remember thinking that I never saw anyone so old, and I marveled at how well she carried herself still. Each movement of her hands was with purpose and grace. Her voice was as soft as a dove, and her actions were that of a lady. I was immensely proud to be her great-granddaughter and would devour every bit of cabbage she gave me. She said it was the key to her long life, so… that was what I ate that summer.
As we sat down to watch The Price is Right on her old television, I would play with the skin on her hands. I recall looking one year at the wrinkled hands of my then 98-year-old great grandmother as she said she was blessed to have made it this far. She would tell me that her wrinkles and her grays were reminders of what she overcame with the Lord on her side. “This old girl is still walking for Jesus. Remember that”, she would tell me. She didn’t mean her legs, which had stopped working the way they should. She wanted me to know despite all the trials she went through as an African-American woman of her time; she would never stop moving because of Jesus. One winter in the future, my great-grandmother died, and her funeral was the first that I would ever go to. I cried as I placed a rose near her headstone, realizing I would never get to play with her wrinkled hands again. So now, every year, I look at my hands, wondering if I will be as blessed to get as far as she did in life.
What could I do with my hands in the time that I have?
Aging is a normal part of life, and so are the significant life markers along the way. Some people think that a birthday is a huge milestone, while others only see substantial accomplishments worth celebrating. Looking back on the last couple of years, I can honestly say that every moment, good, bad, or even mundane, is a blessing. No matter your situation, God will make life worth the journey.
When I was in university, my friends and I would all love to chat about the future. To us, it was a bright uncharted land for us to take as our own. In our minds, we would dream and map out how our life would unfold one big moment at a time, from graduation to dream careers with family. The desire that filled our thoughts often was marriage. Who would we spend our life with, how would we spend it together, and how on earth would our wedding day look like? My friends and I would make Pinterest boards of our goals and compare wedding décor for fun. We all knew that one day the girlish dreams we would write down would become a reality, and we were not going to lack vision. Each of us graduated and went on to conquer life in our way. It was only a matter of time before I could dust off the old wedding board for actual wedding plans.
I grinned on the rooftop at sunset with my then fiancé on his knee, asking me to marry him. This was him; this was the guy I was going to spend the rest of my life with. Finally, it was happening, and now I could begin my happily ever after. Enamored by the beauty surrounding us, it was only a matter of days before the reality set in that I needed a wedding day. Finding the perfect venue was hard because, until that point, I only vaguely knew colors or themes. Nothing was set in stone until I found the ideal place. It was called the Sterling Castle, and it was the halfway point between his family and mine in Alabama. I was never really one to be the center of attention, so I wanted to feel beautiful for just one day, bringing people into a love story rivaling the best romances ever written. We would dance on a cloud, have pictures in front of the stone castle, and have fireworks lighting up the night sky. It was perfect. I was locked in, loaded, and we decided on a date: July 5th, 2020.
A beautiful place for an irreplaceable milestone.
The only way to describe a pandemic changing lifelong plans is breathless. For what seemed like an eternity, I stopped breathing as I saw the headlines. The Covid-19 virus was global. The news rang out, and life as we knew it changed. We would be blessed to get married at all, much less get married in an American castle. Then I snapped out of it and exhaled. I called my now-husband Greg and asked if he wanted to get married sooner. He insisted that we didn’t know how bad the situation was, but he was sure of one thing, we were undoubtedly getting married; come hell or high water.
The pandemic didn’t get better, and everyone was on lockdown. My husband and I searched everywhere for any beautiful place open on the wedding date we promised each other. As time went on, we didn’t know if we could get married at all or what we could do in lockdown, and brides everywhere were postponing or getting married in their homes. The beauty of the venue became irrelevant to its ability to be open at all. It turns out a miracle happened, and we found a hotel that was willing to host us in my hometown. Our guest list was our parents, the pastor and her husband, the photographer, the wedding planner, and my sister.
That day I put on my wedding dress, got my hair done, and fluttered to the aisle. The whirlwind of the past few months was on my mind until I got to the doorway. My husband didn’t bail on me. We were still doing this in the middle of a pandemic. All of my family were in masks. We weren’t promised a tomorrow, but I still got to have him in my life. No matter what, I was still his. My husband cried as he saw me, and peace had filled my heart. I had a love that could weather any storm. I said my vows confidently before God, knowing that neither of us was going anywhere. We danced the night away, and I was blissfully happy.
I wasn’t the only bride that God made a miracle for, and she had her wedding date long before mine. There was a wedding in Cana that Jesus was invited to. We can imagine that wedding was going well until an unfortunate and unplanned change happened. There was no more wine! So Jesus being the good son He is, did what His mother asked of Him by performing His first miracle there:
On the third day, there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and His disciples were invited to the wedding. And when they ran out of wine, the mother of Jesus said to Him, “They have no wine.” Jesus said to her, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with Me? My hour has not yet come.” His mother said to the servants, “Whatever He says to you, do it.” Now there were set there six waterpots of stone, according to the manner of purification of the Jews, containing twenty or thirty gallons apiece. Jesus said to them, “Fill the waterpots with water.” And they filled them up to the brim. And He said to them, “Draw some out now, and take it to the master of the feast.” And they took it. When the master of the feast had tasted the water that was made wine, and did not know where it came from (but the servants who had drawn the water knew), the master of the feast called the bridegroom. And he said to him, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now!”
(John 2:1-10 NKJV)
When the master of the feast said, “Every man at the beginning sets out the good wine, and when the guests have well drunk, then the inferior. You have kept the good wine until now”, he had no idea that the people involved had no backup plan. When we dream of our life plans, many of us don’t prepare for the worst outcomes. We tend to want every detail to be in place our way, the way it usually should be. The wedding had the potential to be ruined, but because Jesus was present, they had something far better than expected, the best guest and wine in town. Whenever we depend on our sense of success, we leave out the room for God’s spectacular vision to take hold in our lives.
Instead of always getting what we want at the moment, sometimes God will wait to give you the best last.
After 2020 a revolution of people argued for less expensive weddings. So a whole generation reprioritized the marriage instead of a wedding ceremony the price of a house. God saved me from paying that much money and gave me a private wedding and a husband I adore. Now my husband and I can afford to dream further than one day in time. All because God allowed my original plan not to come to pass. What has God said no to you about that saved you from a mistake? How many times was there a blessing in the mess? If you are still here to tell the story, you are blessed to have made it through at all.
The Blessing of the Day
As time passed, there were many more milestones in my life. Finally, after years of wondering if I would ever finish a page, I published my first book Daring Believer. I’m not going to lie to you; there is nothing like conquering a life dream. As a martial arts champion in my youth and having earned a master’s degree at twenty-two, I was no stranger to significant accomplishments. However, the writing was a different matter entirely. You see, I was the type of person to sit quietly in the room and let other people speak up. I was content to be in the background, and in some ways, I still am. Then Jesus called me deeper into my walk with Him. It wasn’t as if I hadn’t toyed with the idea of blogging before, but this time I felt a fire burning in my soul to spread the gospel. There were too many times where God showed up and showed out for me in my life to stay silent now.
The day that I published my devotional, I felt wired. Excitement, nervousness, and adrenaline ran through my veins at high speed. I was amped up to see what God would do in this situation. But then, the door flew open, and I noticed that the sign over my work said: ” out of stock.” I had done everything right in my mind. I set up a pre-order, put the book out on multiple platforms, wrote it well, and promoted it. What could have gone wrong? I sat still in my prayer corner and asked God, ” Am I doing this right? I tried everything I could do, Lord. I hope you are pleased.” I sat still for what felt like an eternity, and then peace washed over my soul. Somehow someway I received an answer. I did what God told me to do. Only God could give the increase; as a servant, I just had to be willing.
I am not the only person to have felt disappointed after hard work. Peter had toiled all night fishing yet caught no fish, and he was a professional at it! What should have been a typical day’s catch was up in the air. His situation only changed when he allowed the perspective of Jesus to govern his actions.
“But when the morning was now come, Jesus stood on the shore: but the disciples knew not that it was Jesus. Then Jesus saith unto them, Children, have ye any meat? They answered him, No. And he said unto them, Cast the net on the right side of the ship, and ye shall find. They cast therefore, and now they were not able to draw it for the multitude of fishes. Therefore that disciple whom Jesus loved saith unto Peter, It is the Lord. Now when Simon Peter heard that it was the Lord, he girt his fisher’s coat unto him , (for he was naked,) and did cast himself into the sea. “ (John 21:4-7 )
Although we love to rely on our methods to get a job done, life will teach you to rely on Jesus for ultimate success. Unfortunately, Peter and his crew didn’t recognize Jesus amid their work, and they could not see the fish either. Jesus made Himself known by giving them the nudge they needed that no one else could provide. What situation in your life can only God create a solution? Sometimes our difficulties offer the means for us to trust in God’s sovereignty in life wholeheartedly. When Peter realized who he was talking to, he threw himself into the sea to get to Jesus. No matter how caught up in life trials you get, when you hear the voice of Jesus and recognize it, everything changes.
It just takes one word from Jesus to keep you from giving up.
Digging my feet in, I needed to know how to get this devotional to people who still wanted it. I called my distributors, and they told me, “This happens when you sell way more than amazon could expect. You are doing fine.” I exhaled and knew that no matter what it looked like now, someone could read this devotional. I got up the following day and continued the work I had in my hands, posting inspiration to people who had supported me and those who have yet to encounter Jesus. It was enough for me. I was blessed to be here working for Jesus at all. After a bit of waiting, people received their books. They said that they couldn’t wait for another one! I received many testimonies of how this inspired them; it meant more than I can ever express. You can’t control how God decides to move, and you should never want to. He can use one page to reach only one person, which would be more rewarding than a best seller. There are always more blessings on the day you submit your will to God.
Life can be a rollercoaster sometimes and a walk others. You never quite know what to expect around the corner or how things will turn out. But, as believers in Jesus Christ, we know that we have someone more substantial than any outcome in our lives. God knows the future, God holds the present, and He has conquered the past. God said,” For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end.” (Jeremiah 29:11). Therefore, we can trust God because He has never failed us and never will. You may be going through a rough time, an unexpected event, or an ordinary day, but He will ensure that everything will turn out for the best.