I grew up in the single parent home of my mother, who successfully raised 6 children. If we were the Brady Bunch, then I’d be Greg. Though, my sister Joy (or Marsha), was 5 years older than me.
We weren’t rich, but we weren’t poor either. Then again, by some standards I suppose we were living in poverty but just didn’t know it. We had a nice 6 bedroom house with 2 bathrooms. My mom usually worked 2 jobs and wasn’t home most of the time. My sister Joy was more like a mother than a big sister in that she took care of us. She fed us, clothed us, made us behave as best she could.
I was the man of the house even though our stepfather was around seasonally. He’d show up when it was convenient for him. Meaning, he was broke or one of his many ‘women on the side’ didn’t want to be bothered with him. He wasn’t a bad guy, but he was considerably younger than my mother and didn’t know how to commit to having such a large family.
By the time I was 14, my mother decided that we should go to church and we got involved with a small Apostolic congregation on Detroit’s east side.
The pastor, District Elder Jessie Baggett was a gentle soul with a caring heart. He was a simple man around 60 years old. He probably had little formal education but was passionate about the Word of God and people in general. I learned from him how humanity was in dire need of help and rescue. Not only did we have a mutual enemy (namely Satan), who wanted to kill us all from the face of the earth. But he also wanted to make sure that when we leave this planet that we would spend all eternity with him in the lake of fire that is too hot to put into words. A suffering so everlasting, the mind can’t comprehend it.
He told us that the only way one can be free from the enemy was to have a savior. A savior who would be willing to take our place in judgement for our many sins. He told us that only one person in the whole world even qualified as a suitable substitute on our behalf. “Only Jesus could pay such a price with His precious blood”, I can still hear him say. I remember wondering why someone would willingly give their whole being for someone who didn’t ask for, or deserve such favor. I can remember so vividly the moment after having such a thought that my mind stopped, and all I could do was feel. What I felt was a love so overwhelming that it presently brings tears to my eyes just thinking about it. Feeling those same emotions right now just as big as the universe brings unspeakable joy .
The love of my heavenly Father is awesome, powerful, ever reaching and growing faster than the speed of light. The Father of light took children of the darkness and brought them to Himself. Now, we can be children of light! This is an amazing fact that can not be understood with the human mind. The human heart is too frail a vessel to contain such a love. So, the loving Father gave His children new hearts. Hearts that could feel what He feels, love what He loves and hates what He hates.
Though my mother loved us with all her heart, she wasn’t always kind. She would yell and cuss when we got on her ‘last nerve’. She’d occasionally throw things at us that weren’t meant for that purpose. But this was all before she knew God. Before we became members of Soul Deliverance Church. Before we were members of God’s family. After she got ‘born again’, she was an entirely different person. Peace, joy and happiness were the characteristics of this new woman who looked like my mother. I was in awe.
I saw the change in her almost immediately. Soon after, my baby brother James, decided he wanted to get baptized and give his life to Christ. To save face, my other brother Dorian and I decided to join him. When we were baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of our sins, something drastic had subtly taken place; New creatures were being born at that very moment.
Is my mother an angel who has never said a harsh word since meeting Jesus? No. Are my siblings and I perfect in every way simply because we made a confession of faith and got baptized as a public symbol to the world that we had done so? I wish. What happened to us over 30 years ago has be a gradual, outward change that reflects an inward transformation that is beyond any human comprehension. The more I get to know the God I serve and His boundless love, the more I want to share Him and it with everyone else. I want the whole world to know the love of God that surpasses all knowledge. It takes a superhuman to know the unknowable. And that is precisely what God has done for those who put their trust in Him. He makes us new from the inside out.