In a couple of days on October 23rd I am choosing to celebrate another year of life and all that God is doing in my life. For the past number of weeks I have been experiencing my own “pre-mid-life crisis.” Meaning, I have struggled to not think about everything that my life ISN’T. I have been tossed and turned by the waves in the sea of regret, believing that my life could be much more exciting and fulfilling had I made some different choices. But as of a couple of weeks ago, I am choosing to charge forward and break this pattern that has occurred for the past few years whenever my birthday approaches. But I want to talk about October 23, 2009, which was my 33rd birthday. It had been a little more than a year since I almost failed to see the age of 32 due to a near-fatal case of pneumonia. Yet, on this birthday all I could think about was… myself. I was sulking over the fact that I was lonely and had no one to celebrate my birthday with. All I could focus on was everything that my life wasn’t. So quickly I seemed to have lost the gratitude to God for surviving a VERY CLOSE encounter with the Death Angel.
Yet, on my birthday in 2009 I ended up ministering to two strangers. How funny is that?! While I was consumed with myself, my issues and being ungrateful, the Lord still chose me in spite of me. So it didn’t matter that I was attempting to “treat myself” for my birthday because my life was so “incomplete and unexciting.” I was going to be about the Father’s business whether I liked it or not… Now I did minister to a young man earlier that day, but I want to focus on my second ministry encounter that proved to be extremely eye-opening.
After dining and relaxing alone at my favorite and now-closed spot, “The Harlem Bar,” I walked to my car and spotted someone lying on the sidewalk in front of a doorstep to one of the old dilapidated buildings. “Oh Lord,” I whined to myself. The last thing I wanted to do was be bothered by a homeless person because I had enough “problems” of my own. (Never mind that I had done a little shopping and was driving around in a company-provided vehicle.) This area is in the Sweet Auburn District of downtown Atlanta and is frequented by a large number of homeless people. So as I attempted to just get in my car and drive off, I noticed that the person was a young woman. She had laid out a dirty quilt and it was more than obvious that the streets had not been kind to her. Before I opened the driver’s door, she called out to me. I reluctantly walked over to her, already dreading the idea of having to give her any money. But then she began to tell me about herself and all I could do was listen. She was only 17, but the streets had added about 10-12 years to her appearance and she was also pregnant with twins. She lifted up her shirt to show me her very-pregnant belly as proof. However, what really saddened and shocked me was that she indicated that the twins were in fact the result of her being raped. Even worse, she revealed that she was HIV positive! And you know I just realized that this girl at least had enough love and compassion in her heart to not abort her pregnancy. So as I stood there and listened to her, I could discern that she was telling the truth. Compassion raised my heart and I was no longer thinking about myself. So I ministered to her and we prayed. I gave her $20 and was on my way. As I drive off, I began to kick myself because in my mind, I hadn’t done enough. I was thinking that I hadn’t asked her more questions, and I wondered if I should have taken her to a shelter or bought her some things. However, peace came into my heart when I looked through my rear view mirror and saw her praying with her eyes closed. She even had a serene smile on her face. At that moment, the Holy Spirit confirmed to me that all was well and that I did everything I was supposed to.
I learned a valuable lesson on that birthday and it was to always be about the Father’s business. You never know how God can use you to touch someone else’s life. I felt such a conviction as I drove home. This teenage girl was facing situations far greater than mine. So now as I approach my birthday in a couple of days, I am committed to celebrating another year of life and focusing on others more than myself. In the past couple of years, there have been some individuals I’ve known who have passed on, and almost all of them were young. Life is precious. Yes I know I’m preaching to the choir on this one, but I can’t help but wonder how easy it is to demand life to go a certain way, even when that was never a part of the covenant we have with Him. I am constantly reminded that we were created for His good pleasure.
Every once in a blue moon, I do wonder what might have happened to that young woman and her babies. I wonder if they are ok and if she is off of the streets. I pray that this young lady will be made whole and that her children will have wonderful, productive and healthy lives. It would be a privilege to know that I got to be a part of a beautiful and miraculous testimony. Father please forgive me for my selfishness and self-centeredness. I should always be postured to be about Your business. Amen.