Yet in my misery, the Lord had mercy on me.
I suppose to start this off I ought to give you a good idea of what I was like prior to discipleship. I grew up in a caring, compassionate home. My parents loved me and supported every wild idea I’d ever had. And, from time to time, they would bring my two siblings and I to church. But it wasn’t until junior high that I was faced with the reality that I needed a Savior or I was going to Hell for my sins, and God used a little girl to preach this to me.
My best friend’s little sister, Melanie, knew Jesus Christ as her Lord and Savior. She was five years old and had Diffuse Anaplastic Stage IV Wilms, an extremely rare form of cancer. She understood and boldly spoke of the fact that her time on earth was extremely limited. And guys, she was at PEACE with this. I was so confused and terrified in regards to my reality. She knew she would be with God and I didn’t. God used this little girl to get the gospel to me, and it was because of this that I accepted Christ as my savior. After my salvation, I spent a season going to a church in Greenwood with this precious family, which “kept me out of trouble” for a while.
Unfortunately, I was never intentionally poured into; I was never discipled. So in time I went a way that was right in my own eyes. It got real ugly real quick. By my senior year of high school, I was partying and living it up in the world. I was aggressively following after the world and all it had to offer me. I spent the next five-ish years addicted to things of the world: relationships, alcohol, and even drugs. I was miserable as well as confused. Everyone else was fine with what we were doing, but boy, oh boy was I convicted. God’s Spirit, the one He’d sealed me with to claim me as His own at salvation, was grieved. And I didn’t know what that pain was until I started learning the Truth. I was confused and did everything I could to drown out that cry within me. By the time I was twenty-two years old, I was facing an addiction to alcohol. Yet in my misery, the Lord had mercy on me.
Psalm 118:1 O give thanks unto the LORD; for he is good: because his mercy endureth for ever.
I asked God to do whatever He wanted with my life because I couldn’t be in control of it anymore.
In the summer of 2015, the Lord proved his mercy to me. He did exactly what he said he would in John 15. He tells us, “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth much fruit.” He used that season to purge me… and I mean PURGE me. He cut down this pitiful piece of the vine to almost the base. There was no fruit there other than my salvation. So, being the prudent husbandman he is, he took away all my worldly friends. My heart got broken. I no longer felt safe living alone, so I had to move back in with my parents. My car broke down, my Jeep broke down, and the car my parents let me borrow broke down all in ONE MONTH. And on top of all this, I was miserable, purposeless, and filled with bitter fruit. I didn’t understand it at the time, but today I can look back and say that was one of the most important and amazing seasons of my life. At the time it seemed like it an abundance of chaos, but now I look back and am able to see that it was a blessing. He didn’t give up on this thorny, withered vine.
During this time, my brother, Josh, labored in prayer for me, would stay up late talking to me at Steak ‘n’ Shake, and ask me every week to come to church with him. One week he asked me yet again to come to church with him, and, at the end of myself, I agreed. I drove about an hour to get to Midtown Baptist Temple, desperate for answers. I cried to the Lord on the drive to church. I probably looked like a crazy person, but that’s okay because I was desperate for truth, for protection, for love. I didn’t know where to get it. But that day, I asked God to do whatever He wanted with my life because I couldn’t be in control of it anymore.
I never expected him to answer me quickly, but he did as soon as I walked in the doors. I was approached by a woman I’d met once or twice: Kylie Grasher. I was certain it was compassion that had moved her to approach me, but would later find out that she was actually being obedient to the burden the Lord gave her for me during All Church Retreat that same summer. She was sensitive to the leading of the Spirit and asked me one very simple and incredible question…
“Do you want to start studying the Bible with me?”
True Christianity, which consists of abiding in the True Vine, leads to a life full of purpose, of good fruit
That one question would forever change the direction of my life. I eagerly agreed to this offer. I was startled but giddy at how promptly the Lord had answered my plea. Only God could have done this. We would begin meeting Saturday mornings, and those meetings would lead to discipleship. The process was hard at times, but so worth it. The work that the Lord had already done in Kylie allowed her to minister to me. I was able to see Christ through both Kylie and her husband, Jeff. They laid down their lives, in obedience to Christ, to love a fool like me. They sacrificed their time, money, resources, agendas, home, their car (yeah, I’ve had more car trouble believe it or not). They sacrificed everything so that I might be rooted and grounded, to see me established in worship, the word, ministry, and fellowship with other believers. They laboured relentlessly so that God would be glorified. I praise the Lord for their testimony and the work he has done in and through them. He used this season to continuously nourish me with Living Water. He did this earnestly, protecting me from the strong and dangerous elements and keeping out anything that meant to do me harm. He was loving and patient as He made His increase in my life.
Praise God that he can change us. Praise God that he purges us because He loves us. Just like Onesimus, I was once unprofitable, yet now I am profitable. I was once dry, weak and withered, but today I bear much fruit! I gratefully serve under Jeff and Kylie in MBT’s high school ministry—shout out to my youth ministry peeps. I’ve had the privilege to mentor, disciple, counsel, and serve in ministry from cleaning toilets to C&YA and Youth Hospitality. I’ve been a teacher’s assistant at the Living Faith Bible Institute, headed up Bible studies, gone on mission trips both stateside and internationally, and led others to the Lord by sharing His saving Truth. What an honor it is to be allowed of God to be put in trust with the gospel. And absolutely none of this is because of me. I simply told the Lord that I was willing to be changed. I want everyone to know that God loves them and has an incredible purpose for them, if they are willing to say yes to the job offer.
John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love.
Three years ago, I asked the Lord to take hold of my life, and that is exactly what he’s done. By submitting myself to and abiding in him, he is now glorified through my life. Today I am no longer addicted to the world, but rather, I have addicted myself to the ministry of the saints. (In fact, I am three years sober.) I am Christ’s disciple and I want to follow him in whatever he has for my life. True Christianity, which consists of abiding in the True Vine, leads to a life full of purpose, of good fruit—and this is the only thing I am interested in.
Psalm 116:1-8 I love the LORD, because he hath heard my voice and my supplications. 2 Because he hath inclined his ear unto me, therefore will I call upon him as long as I live. 3 The sorrows of death compassed me, and the pains of hell gat hold upon me: I found trouble and sorrow. 4 Then called I upon the name of the LORD; O LORD, I beseech thee, deliver my soul. 5 Gracious is the LORD, and righteous; yea, our God is merciful. 6 The LORD preserveth the simple: I was brought low, and he helped me. 7 Return unto thy rest, O my soul; for the LORD hath dealt bountifully with thee. 8 For thou hast delivered my soul from death, mine eyes from tears, and my feet from falling.
Lauren O’Hora is a young adult at Midtown Baptist Temple. In 2017, the Lord called her out of C&YA to be a leader in MBT’s Student Ministry. In this post, Lauren shares how the Lord renewed and transformed her through the discipleship process.