Alpha Week: Healing Grace

This last Sunday, we heard how God is transforming lives through Alpha. This week, we are hearing stories of people at Lakeland whose lives are being transformed by Jesus in so many ways.

Be encouraged – He wants to work in your life and heart today too!

After this story is a short reading and some thoughts for the day.

Alisha’s Encounter with Grace

About two years ago I was living a much different life. I felt alone and discouraged about a lot of things. After high school all my friends ran off to college to do great things, leaving me behind. I felt insufficient, like I couldn’t accomplish those same things, so I stayed behind settling for a community college and a minimum wage job. I struggled to make and keep relationships, this bothered me so much! I felt lonely, like I was destined to be alone.

Crazy, right? Why didn’t I turn to God? He is always there and we are able to do great things through Christ! I know this now but for some reason I couldn’t see that then. I knew Jesus died on the cross for our sins and that’s about it. I never read the bible or found comfort in the fact that our God is a God of love that never leaves us.

So God started working in my life; he put me in a situation he knew would make me turn to him and see him for the wonderful God he is. Something happened that was very difficult to deal with but I know it was just what had to happen to get me where I am today. God was with me every step of the way and sent me great blessings to help keep me on the right path.

One of these blessings is my boyfriend, who has been sort of my guide. He has always been there pointing me back to scripture and God. He brought me to Lakeland which has also been such an amazing blessing in my life. Through the people at Lakeland and my boyfriend, God opened my eyes to who he really is. It was at Lakeland that I first learned of grace and what that word meant for me. A hunger for the word started in me, I was reading scripture everyday which is crazy to me. I never thought I would do that, but now if I don’t read in the morning all through my day it feels as though something is missing.

When I heard about Alpha, I jumped at the opportunity to share my faith with someone. (I thought it was going to just hit on the basics that I already knew… boy was I wrong!) I have a friend that I frequently discuss and debate with about Christianity and I find that I would frequently not have the words that he needed to hear to understand what I was trying to say. I prayed about it and God was definitely telling me to go and invite him. I did, we went, and I learned so much and made some really great friends.

During the retreat my boyfriend and I prayed together for the first time and I found myself sobbing, I wasn’t sad but I was sobbing. I truly believe that was the Holy Spirit touching my heart and softening it, and now I cry every time I try to talk about my faith or pray, not because I’m sad, but I think because its just so unbelievable this thing called grace that our God pours out on us. (I’m crying right now, writing this – haha).

Two years ago I was a completely different person than I am today and I owe that all to God! I am so much happier now! Two years ago if you asked me about my faith I’d have given you a rehearsed line I gave everyone who asked. Today if you ask me about my faith, my entire disposition changes, I get a huge smile, tears come to my eyes, and I eagerly try to explain our Holy Father and my relationship with him to the best of my ability. I pray frequently, read my Bible daily, and I can’t wait for church! Two years ago talking to others about my faith would be hard, but now the Holy Spirit guides me and I am able to talk to others and have God-honoring conversations I come away from feeling encouraged by.

Two years ago I didn’t serve at all, I was shy and stayed to myself. Today I usher and greet on the first impressions team and it’s one of the highlights of my Sundays. Looking from who I was to who I am today just shows how powerful a relationship with Christ is. I was lonely, discouraged, selfish, and angry. Now I am loved constantly and encouraged in many ways. I admit I’m still selfish, but God is working on that and I am a lot less selfish. I’m happy and when I do get angry It doesn’t eat away at my heart. instead I have a loving father I can talk to who shows me where I went wrong and how to respond in love and patience. Thank you for listening to my story.

Passage for the day: 2 Corinthians 5:21

Paul was certainly “religious” before he encountered Jesus on the road to Damascus. But after his conversion, He was transformed. He is the one who explained to the Corinthian Christians that Christ makes people new.

Has He made you new? Are you living in that newness today?

Take this passage with you through the day and spend it with Him.

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