What happens when Jesus Christ steps into the life of a young lady who previously denied Him.
“3 AM” I said to myself. “It’s 3 AM again.”
This wasn’t the first time I’d awaken at that exact time. This was about the fourth time I was jolted from my sleep. I looked over at Al*. He was still sound asleep. I met Al my freshman year at the University of Maryland. I noticed him right away. It was easy to spot him since he towered over the majority of the students. He stood tall and lean at 6 feet 4 inches. However, it was his quiet confidence that peaked my interest. He was from Brooklyn, and he made sure everyone knew it. We started a relationship shortly after we met. I guess Al didn’t have a choice. I kept hanging around his dorm room. We both lived in Easton Hall, a coed dorm on campus. I lived on the first floor, and he lived on the second. I loved hearing the loud rap music blaring from his room as I roamed the hallways hoping he’d be home.
I’d peak my head into his room door, “Hey! What are you doing?” He’d always be playing some computer game. Al was a computer science major. He wanted to be a programmer, so he was always in front of a monitor. This particular time he was playing a game called “Redneck Rampage.”
“Can I play? Show me how.”
Later he would tell me that he knew I liked him. I kept showing up. After my sophomore year, we grew tired of rotating dorm rooms so we decided to move in together. When I initially proposed the idea, I knew it was wrong and went against my Christian upbringing, but college did more to shake my faith in Christ than strengthen it. I was very interested in the African-American experience and our culture and religion as was practiced before the African Slave Trade. I couldn’t reconcile Christianity with the atrocities that were done in its name. As a result, I rejected Jesus although I had accepted him as a child. Believing in Jesus didn’t fit into my “conscious” image. Al wasn’t a believer either so it was never an issue in our relationship.
However, after a year of living together and engaging in premarital sex, I started to wrestle with what I was doing. Something in my spirit kept telling me that what I was doing was wrong. I just ignored the still small voice.
“We love each other” I would say to myself. “What could be wrong with that?”
The turmoil in my spirit began to manifest itself in the relationship. I started to put pressure on Al about where our relationship was going.
“Do you love me? What are we doing? Are we going to get married? When?”
“Yes, I love you. I do see a future with you. Can’t you just relax?” Al constantly tried to reassure me that I was more than just a fling. After all, we had met each other’s parents. We went on vacation together. We talked about the future. Everything was falling into place. So, I wondered, “Why does everything still feel so wrong?”
These feelings went on for months, and our relationship began to deteriorate. We were both young and didn’t know how to handle to pressures of “playing house.” On one particular night Al and I said goodnight, and I watched a little television before I drifted off to sleep. This night was just like any other night. It wasn’t long before my sleep was interrupted by a troubling dream. It started off with me inside a dilapidated cabin. I had a shotgun in my possession and had propped myself up against the door as to not let anyone in. It was nighttime, and I was in the woods so I had a sense of danger. As a leaned against the door, the Lord approached and started to knock. On the other side, I was doing everything in my power to not let him in. Not dissuaded by my resistance, he continued to knock. Suddenly, Jesus began to speak, “Watch ye therefore, for ye not know when the Son of Man cometh.” In an instant, I woke up in a cold sweat breathing heavily.
“Al! Al! Wake up! Wake up! What’s happening to me? What’s going on with me?”
“What Lauren? What is it? Are you OK?” By the time Al had fully awakened I had tears streaming down my face.
“Something is going on with me. I think this is wrong. It’s wrong. I think God is trying to tell me something.”
Al didn’t really understand what I was going through. He just did his best to try and calm me down and reassure me that I was alright. I did my best to go back to sleep.
Several weeks later, I found myself at a prophetic workshop hosted by my aunt’s church. They invited a pastor who operated in the gifts of the Spirit to teach us how to hear from God. We participated in a number of exercises. Since I had just had my scary dream, I couldn’t resist asking the guest preacher what he thought it meant.
“I believe that God is warning you to prepare yourself. Not so much that something bad is going to happen to you, but you should get ready because you don’t know when the Lord is going to break into your life.”
I didn’t really fully understand what he was saying, but his interpretation gave me some direction. It wasn’t until several days later I discovered that the phrase left with me in the dream – “Watch ye therefore for ye not know when the Son of Man cometh” – was in the Bible. “Oh my God” I thought to myself! “It’s true. The Bible is true.”
I tried to settle back into my life with Al, but things kept getting worse between us. We finally reached a breaking point.
“We don’t have a future Lauren” Al screamed in frustration.
It broke my heart to hear him say it, but deep down in my heart, I knew it was true. I was being pulled in another direction, and I couldn’t stay where I was. Shortly after that, Al and I said our goodbyes. I packed my things and moved out of the apartment he and I shared. I got my own place and tried to create a life on my own.
Even though I felt the Lord pulling at my heart strings, I still rebelled against it. I was depressed from the breakup – I lost my virginity to Al and we had dated for four years. As a result, I partied. I linked up with one of my girlfriends and we became permanent fixtures in the Washington, DC nightlife. We went clubbing several nights a week. Some days we didn’t come home until the sun came up. We were fresh out of college and didn’t have any real responsibilities so all of our money went towards partying. Several months into the single party life, the Lord started to speak to me again.
It was Sunday morning, I’d just come home from the club at 5 AM. I only slept two or three hours, but I woke up early to get ready for church. I hadn’t been to church in years. The only reason I agreed to go was because my baby brother was singing in the choir. I shook myself and got in the shower. As the warm water hit my back, the Lord began to speak to me.
“Write this article about me for youth. What about this idea? This will be a great idea.”
I didn’t understand where the ideas where coming from so I blurted out loud, “Where is this coming from?”
“I said I would give you dynamic testimonies.”
Right in that moment, I knew it was Jesus speaking to me. I bent over and started crying in the shower. I thought I was going to die because of the things that were happening to me. I gathered myself together and stepped outside the shower. I called my mom who was on her way to my house.
“Mom, we need to talk. Something is happening to me. I think God just told me what he wants to do with my life.”
“OK Lauren. Tell me when I get there. I’ll be there shortly.”
I told her everything that happened to me that morning. She didn’t know what to say. She just nodded and listened intently. When we got to the church, the preacher said everything that had happened to me that morning. She said, “God just told you what he wants you to do with your life. Now, how bad do you want it?” I knew she was talking about me. I stood up and made my way towards to the altar.
“Lauren, where are you going? What are you doing?”
“I have to go mom. God is talking to me.”
It’s been twelve years since I made my way down the aisle towards that altar. I rededicated my life to Christ that day and enrolled in seminary shortly after my encounter with the Lord. Today, I’m an ordained minister and serve in the African Methodist Episcopal Church. I’m still on the path to becoming who God designed me to be. It hasn’t been easy, but I don’t regret it. I’m still happy that I said yes to the Lord’s call.
*Name changed for privacy