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.
October 23, 2011 at 7:24 pm
First of all, my brother…and now long-time friend…I’d like to start off by saluting you on your special day! HAPPY HAPPY birthday Nathan! I celebrate you, your birth, but more importantly your REBIRTH!!!! It’s really very hard to believe you are now in your mid thirties….especially since I’ve had the pleasure of knowing you while you were still in your twenties!!! My how the time does fly! At any rate, I pray that you have an absolutely pOweRfuL day!!!
With that being said, I’ll simply segue into the heartfelt topic on hand. Ahhhh…..the epiphanies of life! There’s nothing like the sudden realization that the puzzle you’ve been putting together all these years is finally beginning to make sense….especially when you’ve stumbled across the missing pieces! Solomon sums it up best in the book of Ecclesiastes. Humankind is always searching for meaning in this life (or meaningless pleasures). There’s always this emptiness…this void…because our search is motivated by “stuff”/people/riches/pleasure. So much of what Solomon thought would bring him happiness – money, women, wisdom, fame – crumbled before his very eyes. Even today, people wonder, “how could that be” when he seemed to possess (literally) everything! But the divine message is this…..the only one who can give true meaning to our lives is our eternal Creator. Why? Because He’s the One who has placed eternity in our hearts. That’s why our soul’s eternal quest is a yearning for something that will last. It will NEVER be found in clothes, cars or cribs. Not even in pleasure, popularity or power. But ONLY in having a relationship with the ONE who created us, cares for us, and gives true meaning to our lives…our Eternal Creator. Efforts to live without Him are not only meaningless, but destructive. Not only is He the beginning of wisdom, He TRULY satisfies!
So, it really doesn’t matter which womb was used for one to enter this earth. It’s not our decision anyway…it’s HIS decision. But I can assure you, that WHOEVER pursues righteousness…holiness…kindness…HIM, will find life, and life abundantly and EVERY fruit of the Spirit! God bless!
Angel aka “PrayzQueen”
October 26, 2011 at 9:37 am
Hey fam, as I read this I couldn’t help but to think of times when I was selfish in the times others needed me. Thank you for sharing this moment as I have been convicted. I love n miss u. I already wished you “happy bday” so I’ll say have a blessed day n hope to see you soon.
October 26, 2011 at 4:18 pm
Dear Nathan! I really enjoy reading “Spiritual Hard Candy”. Thank you for sharing the”candies” with us. You must be “special” to be able to write material like that. Thank you for being YOU! Love&Hugs to you from Grandpa&Grandma
November 1, 2011 at 10:56 pm
I identify with that feeling of not being where you had hoped to be in life and looking for God to fill your moment with something meaningful. I would like to be about my Father’s business and feeling like I’m doing what God would have me do in the moment.