For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
I rarely write about religion or God because I think those things are just extremely personal matters. Not personal as in "I don't want to share my thoughts with you" but personal as in religion is something that I feel like everyone has to decide on for themselves. No one can or should tell anyone else how to feel about such things. I loathe and despise the feeling I get when someone (even someone I know well) tries to force their believes on me; its just awkward and uncomfortable and often offensive...so I try to make it a point never to do that. If you want to know how I feel about something...ask me. I'll tell you anything you wanna know. But I'm not likely to be the one to initiate that conversation, that's all I'm saying.
That said, every once in awhile something happens to me that I just have a really hard time shutting up about and not sharing with people. I know there is a God and that He is watching over us always, but I'll admit that sometimes when times get tough, I forget to remember that He's there. Sometimes it gets so dark that God just gets a little hard to see, you know? But what amazes me and what I am so thankful for, are the times when something happens that makes me see, without a shred of doubt, that I am loved and protected more than I can even comprehend. Those moments when I can literally feel the presence of God so strongly I can hardly fathom it. This happened to me the other day and I am not exaggerating when I say that I felt God so strongly it was almost as though there was a physical presence there with me. I was in my car, driving home, and I swear I almost pulled over I was so overwhelmed. Maybe others have experienced this feeling to?
When I first moved to New Orleans I kind of joked but often truly felt as though God had desserted this place and these people a long, long time ago. At times the corruption and the desolation here make it hard to fathom that an all-powerful Heavenly father could exist and still allow his people to suffer in these ways and there are parts of this city that are so dark and dirty and depraved that one wonders how the light of God could ever possibly reach them. There have been times since moving here that I've felt more profoundly lonely and lost than I've ever felt in my life and when I called New Orleans a "God forsaken city" I meant it.
What I've slowly come to see though, is that God is as alive here as anywhere I've ever been and when I slow down a little bit, when I'm still for just a minute and wait for Him, I feel His presence more strongly than I ever have at any other point in my life. I was not alone when I moved to New Orleans; I just wasn't able to see how protected I truly was.
For me it took getting to a place where I felt so helpless and so alone that I literally did not know what to do anymore. I guess I hit the proverbial "rock bottom." I've always prayed but this was the first time I've ever just broken down completely and begged God to take over because I knew I couldn't do it by myself. I didnt even know what the right thing to do would be; I just knew that for the first time in my life I knew that whatever it was, I couldn't do it alone. As humbling as it was to do that, the sense of peace I felt afterwards was unlike anything I've ever known. I heard God. He spoke to me as clearly as if He was standing in the room with me and He told me not to worry. He told me that I am not alone, that He has a plan for me and that he has brought me here to this place for a reason. I felt as though he was asking me to just have a little faith and to know that everything is going to be ok and that this is all part of His plan for me.
So...there you go. It's raw and emotional and I have no doubt that many of you who read this will think I've absolutely lost my mind. And that's ok; I just felt like sharing.