Several years ago I took part in a management seminar in which we were asked to retrace our professional steps and graph the highs, lows and plateaus of our careers. When we finished that exercise, we were instructed to chart our spiritual journeys during the same...
Brenda J. Davis Articles
Nearly 13 years ago, I was working on the CharismaNow
television broadcast when Steve Strang handed me one of the most
amazing honors in my professional and personal life. My assignment:
Interview David Wilkerson and Nicky Cruz at Times Square Church in
New York City. The occasion was the 40th anniversary of Teen
Challenge, and Charisma had already covered the story in
I once lived in New York and had the chance to meet both of these
stirring preachers. Like millions of others, I was first exposed to
David Wilkerson’s ministry through his book, The Cross and the
Switchblade, but when I began attending the Brooklyn Tabernacle,
I had the enormous privilege of hearing him preach many times. He and
my own pastor, Jim Cymbala, were very close friends. They shared
similar passions—their hunger to know God, compassion for the lost,
and their desire to see the church fully engaged in fulfilling its
calling and mission in the world.
I embarked on one of the most intense seasons of spiritual warfare in my
Christian walk. Though the topic was one I had a genuine passion for, I
experienced a tremendous struggle whenever I sat down to study and craft the
I was a long-awaited first child. My temperament was extremely compliant from day one. My sister, Bridgett, on the other hand, pushed every limit from the time she was an infant. And we have her grouchy-, swollen-faced childhood pictures to prove it.
From the time she was in diapers, it didn’t matter what my folks wanted her to do, Bridgett challenged them. My poor, longsuffering mother would have to go to war just to get Bridgett’s hair combed. Usually, while the battle raged, I was sitting perfectly still somewhere, immaculately dressed and meticulously coiffed.
During junior high and high school, Bridgett continued to chart her course, attempting to be her own person, not a younger version of me. Imagine! My parents often wondered, “How could two sisters be so different?” I wondered too. After all, wasn’t she supposed to be just like me?
When she followed the Lord to law school at age 50, Barbara Weller could not have imagined the role she was being prepared to play in the history of the American legal system.
Attorney Barbara Weller isn’t one for making big plans. In fact, the 65-year-old pastor’s wife and grandmother says, “I just want to do whatever God wants me to. I really have no plans of my own. I wake up every morning and say, ‘Okay, what’s on the docket for today?'”
Although she knows to some this sounds strange, it’s always been her approach. And so far, it’s served her well.
My education began in the early 1960s in Florida’s segregated public schools, where I was taught to love God and my country. I was encouraged to believe that racial hatred was an aberration of my country’s true nature. And I trusted that the inequities I lived with would become obsolete one day because they were inconsistent with our national character.
But during the civil rights movement, the nightly news exposed me to the racism and violence being played out across the country. I became greatly disappointed, and then angry, and I began to lose hope that my country would ever fully embrace me.
For years, America’s ideals meant little to me. The stories I’d read about the nation’s noble beginnings often omitted the fact that among the signers of our Declaration of Independence were several who owned slaves. It was an unsettling irony to me that men who declared freedom to be their rightful inheritance would deny those same “blessings of liberty” to others.
For most of us, envisioning how God wants to use us is easy. The real work comes in faithfully taking steps each day in the direction of His will.
At times, the way seems clearly laid out for us. But at others we feel confused, unprepared and inadequate.
You’ve undoubtedly had the experience of ministering to someone and coming away thinking you had utterly failed. But a few days later you encountered that person again, and she told you your ministry was an answer to prayer!
BECOMING ALL GOD DESIRES WILL MEAN SPIRITUAL TRANSFORMATION FROM THE INSIDE OUT.
Because of his keen observations of how God works in nature, scientist and educator George Washington Carver probably had as much insight into life as he had knowledge of plants. He once commented on the fact that people often assume, when they can’t see anything growing above the ground, that nothing is happening beneath it.
I’ve often made that mistake in my own life and in the way I’ve assessed situations regarding other people. Because of the many challenges facing our world and the church today, we may be tempted to think that positive change is a long way off; but that may not be true for the body of Christ or for its individual members.
When I was in worship one day following a particularly disappointing turn of events, the Lord gave this to me: “‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘Therefore I have hope in Him'” (Lam. 3:24, NASB).
This verse has served me well during the years when the dreadful “if onlys” threatened me. Surely, you’re familiar with them: “If only I were married.” “If only my dad were still here.” “If only things were different.”
Such musings are potentially very powerful in shaping a mood or mind-set. But praise God for the swift intervention of His counsel on those days!
Both my parents grew up on farms in rural Washington County, Georgia. As a result, they were able to pass along a treasure trove of country wisdom inherited from their parents and grandparents.
One of the pearls they were frequently prompted to share when I was a kid was “not to put the cart before the horse.” My folks wanted me to understand that the important challenges and opportunities of life require preparation and the proper ordering of priorities. Though in themselves these rudimentary steps aren’t always the most exciting or the most visible to others, the broader lessons they provide–perseverance, faithfulness and obedience–are vital to one’s ultimate success.
Truthfully, as a young girl given to much dreaming (day and night), I needed this counsel more times than I can remember. It was a known fact that I harbored more than a few lofty ideas about where I’d go in life.
We’ve all envisioned what we believed the future held for us. And a lot of what we’ve imagined has come true.
But timing is everything. And therein is the source of a great deal of our frustration. Whereas God’s view is eternal, ours is limited–and we feel compelled by what we perceive to be our short “life span” here on Earth to do everything now.
But lately I’m being challenged by the Spirit of the Lord to come to a new place of authentic peace in God, not because all my dreams are coming true at the rate I expected, but because I’m coming to know Him (see Is. 26:3). In fact, I’m just beginning to know that I know that He loves me and can be trusted to open opportunities for me that are the best.
This is why I’m grateful to Stormie Omartian for her ministry. Stormie calls us to do “first things first,” to cultivate a relationship of devotion to the Lord through prayerful communion with Him.
It’s not a new concept but one we can easily leave in the dust as we rush out the door to accomplish everything on our agendas. This performance mentality often has led me into confusion about whether to hitch the wagon behind the horse or, well, you know.
One of my most poignant memories of my late father is of him seated at his desk with his Bible open, studying. My dad was devoted to Jesus Christ and had an insatiable hunger for biblical knowledge.
I remember watching him many times as he pored over passages and prayed for understanding. Years later, I had the privilege of getting a seminary education, and one day during a class lecture, I thought of him.
Surrounded by my fellow graduate students in a stately lecture hall, my eyes began to water. I was imagining how much my father would have loved being in this class.
Sara Trollinger has established a much-needed haven for Teenagers who are battered by life’s storms.
Published reports on the state of the American family often reveal problems due to parental neglect and teen-age rebellion. But House of Hope, an outreach to teens and their families based in Orlando, Florida, has become a national model for ministries seeking to bring about family recovery and reconciliation.
Sara Trollinger, founder and president of House of Hope, was a schoolteacher for 25 years. Because of her work with emotionally handicapped students, she sometimes conducted classes with troubled teen-agers who were behind bars.