Looking Back at 21

God has continued growing me this past year. I’ve faced lots of challenges and doubts but I’ve continued walking down this path He has laid out for me. I can’t believe its already been a year and I am now 22, haha, feeling old. My hope for this post to show you what God has been doing in my life over the past year, in little snippets.

Nicaragua Affirmation and Continual Healing-July 2012

Last summer after I turned 21, I headed to Nicaragua and learned lots of lessons there. God used this trip to break me of a lot of my pride. He showed me that even though He had given me a cool testimony, there was no superior testimony, that He had given each one of us believers a unique story of grace and redemption in Him. Toward the end of the week, I was affirmed in what God had told me the day that I had accepted Him, January 6th, 2012. I was prayed over by a pastor in Nicaragua who told me God wanted to heal me more and more and that I was going to be an apostle in the Lord’s timing.

Re-entrance into the Real World-August 2012
I came out of Nicaragua so excited for the future and the plans that God had laid out before me. When I came back to America though I struggled and fell often but through hearing a sermon on CD about a “trampoline of grace” I learned to get back up, time and time again. 
Back to School, Waiting and Doubting My Ability-September 2012-November 2012
I felt like I was supposed to go back to school but the only school I could afford to go to was a technical school. So I swallowed my pride and went to this technical school. I also began the waiting and prayer process of finding a Christian university to go to in the fall. Hours and hours of prayer and a list of fifty colleges to sort through. Also this was first year back to school in a year. I was so worried that I couldn’t do it. I came in with that attitude and overworked and over studied and failed miserably for the first part of the semester. 
New Community, Serving Communion, Trusting God Completely-November 2012- December 2012
As I continued doubting and failing, my pastor and few trusted brothers and sisters, suggested for me to get involved in community and in the church. So I found a bible study on Tuesdays night with guys my age who went to the College of Charleston. These guys quickly became my best friends and an immense encouragement. I also began serving communion at my church downtown and it has been such an amazing experience. I finally gave school completely to God and the results came. I just did my best and left the results to God and I scraped out two b’s and a c in three very hard english, math and biology classes. 
Answered Prayers, Celebrating a Year with Christ, Baptism-End of December 2012-January 2013
Finally, after months and months of praying and seeking and asking, at the end of December 2012, God showed me that I would be going to North Greenville University in the fall. On January 5th-6th, I celebrated my one year of surrendering my life to Jesus Christ with 30 family members and friends. I got up and shared my testimony to this group on January 5, 2013, sharing the victory with these people who had walked through the mud and prayed for me non stop for years and years, pleading with God to have mercy on me. It was a great time of song and prayer and victory sharing. On January 6th, 2013, I stood before a congregation on my one year anniversary of knowing Christ Jesus and professed my love to Jesus Christ and His Lordship in my life. I was baptized and I came up from the water, thrusting my arms into the air, proclaiming the glory of God. 
The Deleted Blog, Visiting North Greenville-January 2013-February 2013
Well, I would love to say that after all these promises and victories took away all my past struggles but they didn’t. God was continuing to work on me and I struggled mightily, more than I had in a year. The blog I had, “Hope and Purpose” had become a great distraction and source of pride, so I deleted it. It was a new start and it brought about this blog, “Walking and Trusting in Jesus” signifying new growth I was experiencing. Walking more into the redemption of my heart and moving farther and farther away from my past. I also visited North Greenville University for the first time, with students actually on campus. The more we went round and round the campus, I was encouraged more and more. Students out reading their Bible, and talking and encouraging one another. This was a place of Godly community, I could tell.
New Creation, Men’s Retreat, Discipleship-February 2013
Well a friend who I had been reaching out to for a year, finally surrendered his life to Christ. He became my greatest encouragement. I also had an opportunity to go on a Men’s Retreat with St. Andrews and learn more about discipleship. The weekend was crazy as I had an opportunity to reach out a 13 year old boy and God provided funds for me to get him a long board and I’ve been writing him letters since I left. I came back and began to disciple my friend, teaching him more and more about God. I started to realize though that I was I putting all these things on him and that Christianity wasn’t about legalism and rules and things that you do. My friend grew so much and began to find his own ways of growing close to the Lord with just a little guidance and help from me when he asked. 
Growing Comfortable with School, Being Stretched-January 2013-May 2013
I went back to school this semester, halfway back to my 3.0. I had all the confidence in the world after last semester and I went in strong and finished strong, finishing with two A’s and two B’s, bringing my gpa to a 2.8, Amazing! It was a difficult semester as my beliefs were tested and questioned constantly by students and professors. I was there to learn though, and have a witness through my peace. Several students asked me throughout the semester if I was a Christian and I was able to share with them about the love of Jesus Christ.    I began to speak out more and more in class, not afraid to ask questions, becoming comfortable as a person. 
The Break and The Award Letter-May 2013
Well I had a month break off from school. It wasn’t really productive. I completely got out of my schedule and went to bed late and I was tired a lot. At the same time, I was expecting to be completely done with the  North Greenville process but this was not the case. The financial aid we had counted on was not very much. I was so confused and angry, I was overwhelmed. I went and sat on the floor of my room after I received the award letter and cried out to God. In my complete overwhelmed-ness God showed up and continued to affirm me in the promise. 
Summer School, Promises Delivered-May 2013-June 2013
With all this uncertainty going on, it was hard to focus on school. At the same time as our financial problems, God was showing Mom and Dad to do something crazy that didn’t make any sense to no one. He showed them to buy a lake house to bless others and find rest ourselves. We all struggled with the decision. We prayed a lot about North Greenville, the lake house and our future. After many hours and weeks or prayers, phone calls, emails, the money came in for North Greenville and we closed on the lake house.
A Week of Peace and Rest at the Lake-June 28th, 2013-July 4th, 2013
This week was just what the doctor ordered, a week of peace and rest. It has been great having no school or work for the first time in over 3 years. Just sitting and knowing God is a God who keeps His promises and His plans and purposes are the best. I’ve had to do a lot of trusting, waiting and praying, but it is all worth it now, because we are receiving the promises of God in full fold. 
Just bring all this stuff back up, on my 22nd birthday, and looking back at all, God has done in I and my family’s life is breathtaking. It truly shows how God is a God of redemption and power, love and grace. He surely does have a purpose in every one of our lives, a great, magnificent purpose, that we can’t even wrap our minds around. I know I will remember this year for a long time to come and I hope to build off this year, as I move into tackling year number 22.
Blessings ya’ll and have a blessed July 4th!
Joseph. 


One thought on “Looking Back at 21

  1. Amen. May your second year of surrender to Jesus Christ be as memorable as and more fruitful than the first. And may the reflections on tackling year 22 be even more amazing and more breathtaking as you continue to work in the kingdom of God. May God continue to bless you and reveal those things that bring him honor, glory, and praise.

    Blessings,
    KW

    Like

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