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Igniting Life by Onjalai Brown

My life has been a series of trauma points, yet God has gifted me with such indescribable joy! Although I was at church more than my own home, I would grapple with God’s ability to love me because I felt tarnished from molestation from a family member and then became a young arsonist setting fires as an outlet for my anger and embarrassment. The fires were innocent and exploratory at first, but grew larger in scale as the abuse continued. As you can imagine, this contributed to a continual dialogue of, “Am I worthy?” “Do I belong?”” Am I enough just as I am?” The answer is yes! Even though I must remind myself of this truth found in scripture Ephesians 2:10, “and for we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” I came to know Jesus personally at the age of 13 while attending youth camp. At that moment, the Gospel became real to me. I was immersed in sin and needed the saving Grace of Jesus to transform every area of my life.

In recent years, I have experienced devastating loss. I have buried my father and stepmother one year apart, walked with my mother through cancer, endured the death of my best friend and sister who I cared for until her last breath, experienced miscarriage, divorce, a cancer diagnosis and treatment, and temporary homelessness. These were like an all-consuming weight that made me question everything I once knew, and in moments of weakness there were several suicide attempts. Yet the Lord spared my life each time, as it said in Psalm 34:19 “Many are the afflictions of the righteous, but the LORD delivers him out of them all.” 

By the grace of God, I am still standing stronger than ever like a mighty oak that has withstood many storms. Some leaves and branches may have fallen, but the roots are firmly planted in the richness of the soil of Christ which makes it unshakable! For it says, “But blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit” (Jeremiah 17:7-8). I’ve come to know now more than ever, that I serve a God who loves me enough to allow me to face earth shattering trials so that I can be a beacon of light and hope for others on the journey! We suffer with Him but we shall be glorified with Him! 

When I look back, I see the evidence of His Goodness all over my life and through every tribulation. Isn’t it a beautiful and anchoring truth that nothing we experience on this side of heaven is wasted? I once was bound by shame for igniting fires of destruction, now God is using my lived experiences to ignite hope, life-change, and influence in the hearts and lives of all who I encounter.

In what ways has God rewritten your story and given you victory over your past? 

How can you share that with someone around you today?

Father, I pray over my sister reading this today. I thank you that she is more than a conqueror through you and her testimony will be a lighthouse in someone else’s wilderness. Help her see how you are using the very things that tried to crush her spirit to give her new life and freedom. May she be eager to proclaim how the Gospel has been made evident in her own life and give her direction on how she can lead others to that same truth in You! We love you and are blessed to call you, Abba Father. In Jesus Name, Amen.

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