Joy to the world! I can’t contain my excitement on this Christmas Day!
As most of you know I’m in school working on my journalism degree and after much delay and struggle (because what’s a success story without setbacks) I’m finally set to graduate on June, 2nd. (Insert celebration here.)
Now I’m a journalism major with a concentration in Philosophy and so this semester my journalism courses focused on writing news stories about religion and culture in New York. In this aspect, I discovered something I truly love and I can see myself being a religion writer for the rest of my life. Nevertheless, for my final assignment I wrote a story about millennials moving away from religion and I featured a meeting my pastor, Dr A.R. Bernard, held at my church. The meeting was specifically for millennials and it was basically an open forum for them to discuss the challenges of being young Christians in an increasingly secular society.
Now, my church, Christian Cultural Center in Brooklyn, is a mega church with almost 40,000 members. I’ve never “met” my pastor. He’s on the pulpit every Sunday and he holds various meetings for the different ministries and so I see him in that capacity. But I’ve never been introduced to him nor have I ever had a conversation with him. While some people may find that strange, for me it is quite OK. His messages strengthen me and his spiritual DNA is a part of every experience you will ever have there. So, I lovingly call him MY Pastor because somehow he has a way of making you feel loved without knowing you… weird.
Follow me I’m going somewhere.
So I wrote about this meeting having never met or spoken to him, or anyone there for that matter, and then I handed it in to my Professor. He, in turn, loved the article so he decided to publish it on the college’s news site.
You can read that story here if you would like.
Now, imagine my surprise when, yesterday, I came home to a letter in the mailbox from my Pastor saying he read the article and he absolutely loved it. I stood in my doorway reading the letter with tears and shaky hands. How in the world did he find it? How did he even know who I was? Why did he go so far as to write to me and tell me that I have a God given gift to write and he is praying God opens new doors and grants me much success? I’m floored!
Such an honor!
Who but God?
My season of long suffering and discontentment is well documented here. But always the message and purpose of this blog has been “pressure builds diamonds” and the refinement process is dark and painful but God promised us an expected end. While blogging for me was just a creative outlet, it came to mean so much more than that – simply from the comments and emails I get from you guys just saying how encouraged you are from reading about my experiences.
This letter, yesterday, just solidified my calling. I mean, to some, it may be just a letter- but if you know who A R Bernard is, then you know it’s more than a letter – it’s a mark of distinction I could put on my resume… just kidding. But seriously, I know that that was God showing me that there is a reward to your diligence and perseverance. You may think you are just dropping pebbles in the ocean and no one notices, but God does.
So today, on Christmas, I’d like to give you the gift of encouragement and peace.
God knows where you are and he knows where to find you. Like mine, your season may be long and hard but know that there is purpose in everything God does. There is no promise or purpose without the wonder twins of pain and struggle. Rest assured that God promised us that he will never leave us and it is written “greater is he who is in us than he who is in the world.”
What does this mean for my future? Everything. The simple acknowledgement gave me the gift of renewed strength and purpose. And it is confirmation from God to me that I am exactly where He wants me to be.
That’s the gift I’d like to give back to you.
I’d also like remind you to use your gifts and talents. Trust your process, believe in your promise and have faith in God. He loved us so much that gave us his son Jesus, what on earth could be too good for us? Remember this, as you enjoy your holidays, hopefully surrounded by joy, peace and laughter.
Merry Christmas Diamonds!