Dearly beloved, we are gathered here today…
No, I’m not even going there except to say thank you to an icon who’s recently passed away. Thank you for a lifetime of sharing yourself with the world, and for leaving your vision of art and sound for generations to enjoy. From childhood I was captivated by Prince’s prolific songwriting and phenomenal musicianship. If you’ve ever seen him live in concert then you understand he wasn’t so much a skilled musician, but the guitar and piano OBEYED him, producing classical, jazz, or R & B scores at his command. Social media’s exploded with dedication tributes, and I’d like to share my all-time, favorite song from the album Around The World In A Day. At 13 year’s old I thought hard about the chorus, and where I was in life:
Everybody’s looking 4 the ladder
Everybody wants salvation of the soul
The steps U take are no easy road
But the reward is great
4 those who want 2 go
Everybody’s looking for the answers
How the story started and how it will end
What’s the use in half a story, half a dream
U have 2 climb all of the steps in between
-Prince, The Ladder
You wouldn’t be exaggerating if you called that period of my life a “hot ghetto mess.” My family was literally falling apart at the seams with my parent’s separation, added to that we lost our home, and I had to leave my church, school and all my friends to start over in a new city. Crying hot, angry tears at my last bible study, our youth leader asked to pray with me. We bowed our heads as he quietly asked the Lord to keep me, bless me and shower me with His love all my days. I still remember that prayer because of its simple sincerity. Afterwards I felt calmly reassured, and had what’s now a reoccurring vision where I’m speaking to and encouraging millions of people. Even then God began to reveal His plan for me!
If you knew me then you’re laughing because in school I was the LAST ONE picked for anything involving public speaking. Math club, yes. Chess club, double yes. We moved around alot, and in first grade alone I attended three schools! With a horrible lisp that made it hard to pronounce complex words, and really crooked teeth that stuck out even when I tried to close my mouth, teachers rarely coaxed me to read aloud in class. International public speaker…um, no thanks Lord.
Fast forward ten years. I played hard, and lived as self-destructively as possible. Braces fixed my visible issues, but only God’s love and forgiveness could pierce my heart and fix my spiritual brokenness. Through all of life’s ups and downs the Lord has never left me, He’s kept me and continues to bless me, just as the young bible teacher asked long ago!
If you’re wondering “but what about the vision?” I not only travel the world speaking and teaching, but also use those hard experiences from the early years to mentor and encourage other women through a local non-profit organization. Nothing is a wasted experience when we give it to God. It seems that my tears, relationships, and embarrassments have become useful learning experiences to prepare others for GREAT success! In the last five years God has added the most wonderful dreams to my vision, and I recount the verse:
“‘And in the last days it shall be, God declares,
that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh,
and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy,
and your young men shall see visions,
and your old men shall dream dreams; Acts 2:17 (ESV)
Today would you consider this next question? What great thing do you dream about for your future? Is it help overcoming personal struggles from your past, or do you dream of having your own business where you control your financial legacy, or perhaps you want to have healthier and happier personal relationships? Maybe you seek a deeper spiritual relationship, and want a sense of purpose and connectedness. I believe that’s what Prince sang about in The Ladder!
When I was a child my problems seemed unsolvable. They loomed as big as a harvest moon on a clear night sky. Growing older certainly put things in perspective. Troubles didn’t go away, but my response to them changed dramatically. One night while sailing on the South Pacific, I looked up and there a full moon. It was magnificent and as I stared at it intently, I imagined I was holding it between my pointer finger and thumb.
My shipmates thought this was hilarious, but this is my perspective in life. Yes, it’s a fact that the moon is enormous, but from earth it’s so small it fits between my two fingers. In life even your biggest obstacle don’t stand a chance against a great God and His plan for your life when He says Amen. It is finished!
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world.” John 16:33 (ESV)