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Found and Remembered

It is truly a blessing to be loved and cared for, to be wanted and most importantly, to be remembered. Some of us just don’t know how good we have it.

I was recently browsing the Broward Sheriff Office’s website for a community event when I came across the link, “Found and Forgotten.” I clicked on it, opening a page with a list of dead people who had been profiled by BSO and had yet to be identified. Each victim was described by race, hair and eye color, height, estimated age and the clothes they had on. Many of them had been found in canals and wooded areas.

It saddened me to see that they were discovered decades ago, but still unclaimed. I wondered if their families had given up searching for them or failed to even notice that their loved ones were missing. Had these victims been disowned by their families prior to their disappearances?

The mystery surrounding their pasts and causes of death was overwhelming. The fact that they were in their early 20’s was alarming, as well. While we may never know their names and stories, it’s good to know that they mattered to God just as we do.

Ironically, those of us in the faith were once lost and dead (in our sins), but thank God, He found and saved us. Even when we have felt alone on our Christian journeys, “The LORD has remembered us” (Psalm 115:12).

Before Paul became an apostle — at the time he was known as Saul of Tarsus — he sinned against God by persecuting the early Christians and having them put to death. He was relentless in destroying the church. “Going from house to house, he dragged off men and women and put them in prison” (Acts 8:3).

One day, as Saul was on his way to Damascus in search of more Christians, he saw the light, literally. According to Saul, “A bright light from heaven flashed around me. I fell to the ground and heard a voice say to me, ‘Saul! Saul! Why do you persecute me?’” (Acts 22:6-11).

Saul learned that it was Jesus confronting him in a supernatural way, and he was immediately convicted. He repented from his sins and went about his newfound journey preaching salvation to sinners as Apostle Paul.

Paul’s conversion (and name change) from darkness to light is synonymous to the transition from spiritual death to eternal life, earthly gains to heavenly treasure.

The struggles he encountered throughout his ministry should have caused him to doubt God’s presence in his life, but his answered prayers (protection from a snake bite and deliverance from prison) assured him that he was remembered by God.

The same could be said about Apostle Peter. Before the launch of his ministry, he had a physical encounter with Jesus while fishing with his brother. Christ offered Peter an invitation he could not refuse — He called Peter out of darkness and into the light to become a “fisher of men.”

Instead of living his life in a dead-end trade, Peter now had an opportunity to do something meaningful. Jesus had chosen him to evangelize and enrich the lives of people who were lost and hopeless. Peter faced many challenges on his journey, but God remembered him, too.

Like the loving father in the parable of the prodigal son (read Luke 15), the Lord extended his welcoming arms to Paul and Peter, both of whom were part of a rebellious generation which had left God to pursue worldly wealth. Both men had turned from their hopelessness (darkness) after seeing the light. They had been found and made alive again; they had been remembered on earth and in heaven.

Today, God is still looking for the lost and seeking to make a claim on those who are “dead” in this cold and conflicting world. And for those of us who have been found, but are struggling in our faith walk, God hears us. Rest assured, He remembers us.

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More to life

I thought I was important when I got my college degree. I thought I was special when I got married. I thought I was unstoppable when I began my career as a journalist. I thought I was sitting on top of the world when I closed on almost got the house I loved (or so I thought). Somehow, the experience — the deal fell through — negated all of my previous milestones including my failure to become a mother.

Sidenote: I lost my baby a few months after I got married and it hurt…literally. I was in pain, found out the embryo was growing in my left fallopian tube (picture a cranberry inside of a straw), had surgery and healed sans painkillers because I cannot swallow a pill to save my life. I suffered emotional pain as well, but I got through it because in retrospect my pregnancy came at the wrong time. And the loss was no fault of my own as I initially felt. It’s just that God has other plans.

Not signing on the dotted line of that contract was another reminder that God was in control of everything, from my highest to least ambitions. It was as if I was one step away from the top rung of the success ladder, lost my footing and crashed on the ground.

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Before I continue, let me just say my husband and I are not renting. My husband bought a condo a couple of years before we tied the knot. I moved in after our nuptials and added a much needed feminine touch to the place. We remodeled and got some new furniture. It looks great if you ask me. Sure my name is on the deed, but it doesn’t feel like my accomplishment. It doesn’t even feel like ours. It’s his accomplishment. I guess that’s why not getting the house had such an affect on me. I wanted us to do something successful together…again. Why? Because it would lengthen my list of blessings. But the real reason is because I was a competitor trying to get ahead of those in front of me (and their lists). What a vain pursuit!

But thank God for failures. Sure, the disappointment of not becoming a homeowner messed with my confidence, but it also humbled me a lot.

I learned that a life in Christ is not about what I can get; it’s about what I can give. Unfortunately, society teaches us that fulfillment is tied to how much we own. That’s why we spend the majority of our lives pursuing success  at the expense of our souls. On the contrary, the Bible teaches us that only God can make us whole. We were not created to acquire and worship things. We were designed to worship God – to give Him all the praise, the glory and honor due to Him. And it’s not because of what He’s done, is doing or will do. We should  magnify Him simply because of who He is.

The things He blesses us with (He gives us power to get wealth) on our journeys are just the icing on the cake. And let me just say, too much icing, nevertheless, icing alone, is not good for our health. It makes the cake taste good, but the cake is still edible and appetizing without it. The cake (or bread) being Jesus, in case you missed it.

When I began living my life on purpose, all of my achievements did not matter anymore. Neither did my failures. There is more to life than academic, financial and familial achievement or letdown. The significance of our existence is tied to the evidence of God’s presence in our lives. Earth and everything in it shall pass away, but God is eternal. And if we have Him, we have everything we need.