Today’s story was worth waiting for! It comes from a young mother I have been in awe of since the day we met. She is not your typical mother. Her story is not one that most would think is well put together. She has shared pieces of her story with me, and each time she does, it makes me roar with laughter in my spirit. The goodness of God toward her has been absolutely outrageous! She is always pursuing more of Him, and I am continually amazed at what she has endured, at the messes He has pulled her out of and walked her all the way through. I am sometimes confounded at the way He speaks to her when we pray together. He reserves endless beauty and mystery for her, because she knows she is His beloved bride. She walks through all that life brings her way – and it brings a lot! – with an air of royalty about her. She remains somehow rooted in His love, even when her world is tossed and turned and she is beset with confusion over her circumstances. Still, always, her root is never overturned.
She makes me jealous for more of God….for letting God be more for me than I can sometimes limit Him to being. She seems to have a wide-open sky in her perception of God, giving Him room to paint anything He desires on the canvas of her heart. She leaves plenty of room to always be amazed, and it inspires me to do the same.
This piece of her story is honest and vulnerable. It is a coming-face-to-face-with-reality story, the kind that forces us to consider where we are with God, where we are in our pursuit of everything. It is, if we will allow it to be, a recalibrating story, one that has the capacity to turn us around and get us moving in the direction we really should be headed…straight toward the heart of God.
I pray you will be inspired by what God told her to share with you, and I pray it will catapult you into a deeper place with Him.
“My name is Monique and this is my resurrection story…
I had originally written out a different testimony, one that I feel is my message in life to share. But I just couldn’t seem to send it. My heart was telling me that was not it. So I began to pray, ‘God, which story? What do You want me to share? This is what He led me to offer…
Before I ‘knew’ Jesus, I had only received Him as my Lord and Savior. I didn’t know Him as my Best Friend, my Father, my Husband, and my God. In the years when I recognized Him only as Lord and Savior, we had a servant and Master kind of relationship. In those years, I spent many years crying at the altar and praying for my Ex-Husband and our marriage. I had read several marriage books, praying wife books, books on the power of prayer, etc. But having lost all hope in God’s intervention, despite my pleading, I decided ‘I’ had to do something about my situation or I would die inside.
I believe it was July 2008 when things began to change. I found myself laying in a courtroom holding cell, recalling a dream I had had two weeks earlier. I was marveling at the fact that every event of the two weeks leading up to that moment (leaving out no details) was a living re-enactment of this dream. I mean, right down to the very thoughts I had had in my head!
I had shared the dream with my mom, and she told me that God was using the dream to warn me, but at the time I did not take it seriously. I never thought God would use a dream to warn me about police raiding my house. I had never experienced God speaking to me that way.
Well, it was in fact God warning me. Looking back, I can see His hand all over this story, so let me take you back to what led me to that courtroom holding cell, and attempt to sum up the events that changed my life and my faith forever.
I had been arrested with several guns and drugs, and was eventually facing charges of sales and transportation of an illegal substance. I would like to add so much explanation here, but no matter how I try to dress it up and fancify the way I ran my pharmaceutical career, the plain truth is that I was just a drug dealer. I went to court, and I was released on $200,000 dollars bail. Immediately, I hired a lawyer, and the trial began. Everything seemed to move so quickly.
Once I was back home, I tried to process what had taken place. I was laying in my bed one day, and I began to to play back my life, thinking about all of the decisions and choices I had made that led me here. Three months prior, I had lost my 21 year old brother to the same game. He was using the same drug I was selling and was wanted for a string of several robberies. He was all over the news. We were living together in an extended stay type hotel when he was shot and killed by Oakland Police. I was devastated. I was also divorcing my husband at that same time. So much was going on inside of me. I had prepaid my rent for the entire year so I was able to slow down on the dealing, but it was too difficult for me to stop completely at the time. It had become my security and my identity.
As I lay there overwhelmed, I began to pray, crying out to God and telling him my fears for my future and the fears I had for the future of my daughters. And God began to speak to me, in the middle of my sin and mess. So clearly, God began to speak to me! And I began to hear Him!
He told me that my sentence would be probation, and that I would not go to prison but instead be sent to Shepherd’s Gate for the duration of their 14 month program, with my daughters. When I went back to court, that was my exact sentence!
God continued to speak to me that day, telling me about myself. He led me to a passage in the book of Hosea. These are the verses that reached out and grabbed ahold of me:
Hosea 2:5-23 (some verses left out, for emphasis on what was used to speak to me):
“She says, ‘I will go after my lovers who give me bread, water, wool, oil…’She shall pursue her lovers, but not overtake them. She shall seek them but not find them. Then she shall say, ‘I will return to my first Husband, for it was better for me then than now.’ But she did not know that it was I, I that gave her the grain. I that gave her the wine and oil, who lavished upon her silver and gold…'”
It goes on to say….
“In that day you will call me ‘My Husband’….. I will betroth you to me in righteousness and faithfulness. I will betroth you to me forever and you shall know the Lord…And in that day you will know that I am the Lord.”
Through these passages and more, God showed me how I had chased after money and selling drugs (my lovers) to provide for my children and I. He broke my heart with Love, telling me. ‘You did not know, but I gave you this Home. I gave you the new furniture, the clothes, the jewelry, the trips and vacations!’ Every dollar I had made was allowed and even given by God!
I felt foolish, my pride stripped, but at the same I felt loved and valued! He consecrated my heart! He also showed me how, for so long, I had chased after my Ex-husband. I had been coming to God, day after day, begging and pleading for Him to change my husband. My heart had chased after him, and all the while, God was chasing after and pursuing me.
Months later I lay in bed, this time at Shepherd’s Gate with my two girls sleeping next to me. Upset from hanging up the phone with a guy I had begun talking to and really liked, I felt frustrated. He was at a party when I called, and I remember feeling so anxious during the call. When he wanted to get off the phone, I cried to God, asking, ‘How can he be at a party and answer! Doesn’t he know I’m stuck in here?!’
So many thoughts and emotions began to over take me. I began to notice this ugly feeling inside of me, and this is what I heard God say, ‘Monique, do you feel that?’ ‘Yes, Lord!,” I cried. ‘Well, he could feel that too. That’s why he wanted to hang up. Do you know what that is?’
‘No,’ I replied. ‘That’s neediness. It’s a hole, a void inside you. Think if it were the other way around. If the tables were turned, would you be able to handle a man who cried to you like that?’ ‘Not at all! It would be a turn off. I couldn’t handle that. I would be disgusted. It would definitely be too much for me!,’ I answered, listening to my own response.
‘Exactly! No man can ever fulfill that neediness, or fill that void. Only I can. Only my LOVE can fulfill & fill that hole inside you. A man can give you all his love, and it will only drain him, and leave you empty still. My Love is an endless fountain. Your cup will overflow!’
I laid there, recognizing that all the neediness was gone. I was amazed at what I just heard. Just like that, I had been CHANGED.
The more I began to abide in Christ, the more our bond grew, and I returned to my true Husband. God began to show me how, in different relationships, or through conversations when I would say or do something, much of it was to gratify something in me. I learned to examine my heart, and to question whether I was I seeking to draw something I shouldn’t from people. This had become such a selfish and destructive way of being in relationships. God would even give me insight when people around me did or said hurtful things, and I began to see that, most of the time, it had nothing to do with me. More often than not, it was a battle within that person, or a need that they were also trying to fulfill…an emptiness that couldn’t be met by me. I knew where the water source was, and that now I could respond and give out of this new abundance. This made me able to respond with compassion instead of defensively. It was truly amazing.
The closer I got to God, the more was revealed. A beautiful, priceless jewel God gave me in those days: the jewel of Himself. When Jesus became my Husband, when I began to pursue Him, when I Iearned to draw from Him alone, I became a full person.
I didn’t need money. I didn’t need a man! I was full! And out of that fullness, I could give. No longer did I need to go to someone else to receive something that God alone provided, and had all the answers to.
Our life, our joy, our purpose aren’t tied up in our status, nor do they lie within a man. It’s all in Jesus, Who pursues you while you run away from him, Who waits to fulfill every need, Who desires to see us become the full, overflowing women He created us to be.”