I Am With You Always
I am with you always, even to the end of the age. - Matthew 28:20
This statement has always stuck with me. Even as I embark on this new journey (which I am so excited about!) as Rescue America’s Vice President of Development, this statement "I am with you always" resonates with me constantly. In fact, I pray it each and every day. "God, you drew me here, I know you're with me. Please - strengthen me and give me YOUR abilities!"
This isn’t a statement that I’ve always embraced.
This is a statement that I grew up learning in Junior Church and Sunday School. I heard those words - time and time again. I heard them, but didn’t feel them.
My experience growing up in church was that of a person wandering around, but who never really fit in. I wasn't the popular person, and I definitely wasn't the person who brought a lot of attention to myself. This left me feeling unimportant, insecure, and LONELY.
This was exasperated by the fact that I was raised in an environment where I needed to “check boxes” to receive God’s favor and love. I found myself on the outside of this “religious” environment as well... and if I’m honest, I didn’t want to be there - I wanted nothing to do with it. As I entered my late teens, I truly didn’t want anything to do with the church. I would purposefully ask for Sunday hours at my job so that I would miss church.
This environment also caused me to develop a reliance on my own abilities. After all, if I can check boxes to receive God’s favor and love, then my works can certainly bring me closer to God and His will for my life.
I needed to be reprogrammed.
I had to re-learn everything that I thought I knew about God.
It wasn’t until late in my college years that I started to understand God and his ways. I wasn’t fully there yet, but I started to understand that He was always there. Unbeknownst to me, He was working in my life, despite my shortcomings. He provided for me in ways that I still don’t understand. Whether it be providing me the woman of my dreams (who I’ve been married to for 18 years), an incredibly energetic 5 year-old, a loving family, great relationships, great jobs...I could go on and on.
But I didn't accept it. I still felt that I had to bring something to the game!
Reprogramming is hard.
It wasn't until 2012, when I experienced a series of challenges in my personal life, that Matthew 28:20 became real for me. I had known Jesus for a long time - but this is when I truly came to KNOW Jesus. I came to accept that he was literally there with me during all of life’s challenges. During this time, the phrase “I am with you always, even to the end of the age" became something that I could feel. During the hardest times in my life, His presence was REAL. God was right there with me, walking through the most difficult challenges I had ever faced. He had always been there, and will never leave me. This period in my life resulted in the greatest amount of confidence that I had ever known. Not confidence in my own abilities, not based upon anything that I brought to the game, but rather based solely upon what God had done for me – my identity in Him.
Jesus' love changed me, and continues to do so.
My walk with the Lord from that point in 2012 was not as a blazing fire, but rather a slow flame that continues to grow and grow. God has changed and continues to change my heart on a daily basis.
This opportunity to serve at Rescue America is truly a calling from God. God has used my career thus far as an engineer at UPS and as a Development professional at a Christian media company (WAY-FM) to prepare me for this.
The plight of sex-trafficking victims is something that has become real to me over the past several years. If I can be honest, my brain still can’t comprehend the full scope of this nasty, horrible underbelly of our culture. I wasn’t looking for another job, but God was looking for me.
This verse “I am with you always, even to the end of the age” has become more real to me – now more than ever. God loves the marginalized – those who are in dark places being exploited for momentary pleasure. He IS with them. He WON’T leave them. He loves them. Rescue America is acting as God’s hand of rescue. This isn’t just a job for me – it’s a mission. A mission that God has been working in my heart to bring to fruition for a long time. I can’t wait to be a part of this upheaval of what the enemy meant for evil. In partnership with the Lord, we will turn it for good.