~By: Arlene Alicea~
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. Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back from captivity. I will gather you from all the nations and places where I have banished you,” declares the Lord, “and will bring you back to the place from which I carried you into exile.” Jeremiah 29:11-14
Although I always believed in Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior, I did not have a relationship with Him until about two years ago. My relationship started when He came and found me as He promised and turned my life around.
At the worst time of my life, I was encouraged to go on a faith-based retreat in Georgia with a group of women. The location was a beautiful Jewish summer camp for boys. The group leader of the retreat was very much in a relationship with the Lord, as were most of the other women who were there.
My stay there was so majestic and relaxing. I spent time meditating and praying to the Lord for answers about all the problems I was facing. Then came the last day. Everyone was planning to attend service before leaving for the long trip back home. I wasn’t happy about getting up early, especially since I was the driver and I love my sleep! But, I went.
As I walked into the room, beautiful Christian music was playing. The hair on my arms stood up, and I felt this warmth entering my body. I started crying and couldn’t stop. I wasn’t sure what was happening, and my feelings were all over the place. I felt very vulnerable, yet so peaceful at the same time. Looking back, I know that was the moment the Holy Spirit revived my soul.
I approached one of my friends and asked her if she could spare some time to talk about what I had experienced. At that time, she was attending ministry school, but I did not know that. God was starting to place all the right women in my path; the women who would make a difference in my life.
After an eight-hour ride home with four women in all stages of their walks with God, being invited by the retreat group leader to church the next day, and the talk I had with my friend about what happened at that service, I began to pursue a deeper relationship with the Lord.
It’s been two years since that retreat, and these last two years have been a blessing from God. The pain of a divorce I never wanted and the loneliness I felt from not having my best friend next to me after 36 years of marriage started to feel a little bit more manageable.
The Lord began to fill my life with fellowship. I started attending life groups at church, and I joined women’s ministries. The Lord put all the right women in my path to lead me, teach me, hold me accountable, and, most of all, love me. God has replaced my loneliness with a purpose for my life. I live my life intentionally to serve Him everyday, and that is a blessing.
When God says He will leave no one behind, you can believe it. I was at my worst moment, feeling alone and forgotten. I prayed for a very long time, and then He answered and told me I was neither alone nor forgotten. He told me He had plans to make me new and give me a new heart. (Ezekiel 11:19)
He bought me back from the places of despair, desperation, and lack of self-worth. It was a long journey, living two years of crying everyday for something that was broken a long time ago, but with faith, His Word, and surrounding myself with strong women of God, I found peace and truth. I am a child of God, and I am worthy.
You are not alone. God is always there, and if you look you will find those He is placing in your path to guide you, encourage you, and love you. I am here today because I had faith that God had a plan. He knew the road I was on was not going to give me a life of salvation and love. He chose to go back and get me and save me.
He is just watching and waiting for you to ask. Seek Him in prayer and knock on His door. (Matthew 7:7) Ask Him for salvation. God will always answer you. You just need to be still and listen for Him. (Psalm 46:10) Spend quiet time in His Word and discover all the promises He has waiting for you.
Life was never meant to be a smooth ride, but through our trials and tribulations we receive God’s strength to get us to the other side. (Psalm 119:71) He positions us to be His disciples to help others know the joy and completeness that can only be found in Him.
I encourage you to search in your heart for the Lord. I promise the return will not be void. He has already decreed His promise to you! Don’t let the opportunity pass you by. He will never leave you standing alone.
"What do you think? If a man has a hundred sheep, and one of them has gone astray, does he not leave the ninety-nine on the mountains and go in search of the one that went astray?" Matthew 18:12