Brenda Cook, Celebration Gainesville
I am a walking, talking miracle. While I was raised in a Christian home and taught to be a disciple of Christ, my life took several wrong turns. I just wouldn't get out of God’s way. As a result of my choices, I went from being a mother, teacher, and functioning part of society to the depths of hell as a crack cocaine addict. I lived under a bridge, hustling on the streets as a prostitute, living to use and using to live.... I lost all hope and faith in anything.
I lived this way for over 11 years. I would try to pick myself up only to fall again and again. I would not put my trust in anything, including God. I was in and out of jails and rehabs, even tried to end my life but I would NOT surrender my will. I was determined to do it MY way. Finally, after yet another failure, the court sent me to finish my sentence at Lowell Correctional Facility. I had 8 and1/2 months. It was here that I made my first step. I had a choice...become a better criminal or try to find a better life. I went to church, went to recovery meetings and began to try to mend broken fences with my mom and kids. It was a struggle because I still wasn’t asking God for help. I still was running on self-will.
When I was released for the first time in 11 years, my mom invited me to come home to West Virginia to get back on my feet, an offer that I took, although I wasn’t sure it was a good idea. For the next months, and finally over two years, I learned how to live like a human. I was surrounded by love of my family, my church family. I slowly begin to reach out to God. It was amazing to realize He was right there all the time waiting. I was restless and kept making plans and telling God what they were instead of seeking His will. This, as you well expect, didn’t work out. I was frustrated and defeated.....and a place God can get some work done.
I begin to pray, sincerely for God’s will, and the answer I got was a resounding wait....which I ignored for a while and suddenly after what seemed like forever, I heard the voice say...it’s time, go back to Gainesville. I at once questioned God, You want ME in Gainesville….how about Orlando or ANYWHERE else. NO was my answer…Gainesville.
So I came back to Gainesville. My daughter wanted me to be closer to her. I went to my old job to say hi, and they pleaded with me to come back. A friend of mine from recovery offered me a beautiful place to live at a price I could afford. She even kept the utilities in her name. I wrecked and totaled my car so I couldn’t leave.
A year later I am a supervisor at that job. My daughter has learned to drive at 32. I have a dog and two cats to care for. I have an awesome pastor and church family at Celebration United Methodist Church.
All that was required of me is to surrender my will and listen to the quiet still voice of God and do as He says. Then I am required to tell others of the miracle of salvation and to live my life as God intends for us all. Happy, joyous and free.
In case you forgot, this is from a crack addict that lived under a bridge …..
Up June 25…
Yvette Carter, St. Paul UMC, Largo
The director of Open Arms Ministry tells how pride, for a time, kept her from asking God for help. And, when she did: “He comforted me in my tribulation and strengthened me to comfort others in need. I have found joy and peace in His service."
The Florida Conference of The United Methodist Church
450 Martin Luther King, Jr. Avenue
Lakeland, FL 33815
(863) 688-5563 or toll free (800) 282-8011