This week, my guest Faith-filled guest is my dear friend Jennifer Slattery. We met at the Blue Ridge Mountain Christian Writers Conference last year and Jennifer is an inspiration to me. I think you’ll see why when you read about her journey to faith.
Jennifer Slattery writes Missional Romance for New Hope Publishers, a publishing house passionate about bringing God’s healing grace and truth to the hopeless. Her debut novel, Beyond I Do, is scheduled to release this fall. She also writes for Crosswalk.com, Internet Café devotions, writes and edits for an international ministry called Christ to the World that shares the gospel, via radio waves, in 32 countries. You can connect with her online at http://jenniferslatterylivesoutloud.com, on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/JenSlatte or on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Jenslattery.
For years I fought God’s call, for one reason—I knew it’d lead to self-exposure. Back then, I feared others. That somehow someone from my less-than-glamorous past would see one of my books, happen upon my blog or an online interview, and tell the world I was a sham. That this smiling, preppy Christian once was a hopeless, homeless, bitter teenager bent on self-destruction.
Over the years, as God tugged and tugged and tugged on my heart, I realized He was calling me to something much scarier—self-exposure. And to be honest, it still terrifies me, but that terror lessons when I realize the beauty of His grace, displayed through my story.
Why did Jesus come to earth as a helpless babe, born to unknown peasants?
Why did the angels announce His birth to smelly, rough shepherds?
Why did God choose a homeless teen to write about His love and grace and the transforming power of His resurrection?
To show everyone—from the “best” to the “worst” that His grace is meant for all.
My testimony is far from typical, although perhaps it is more common than I realize. It’s also hard for me to share because of all the baggage attached to it and all the emotions tied up with my past. Yet it’s something I love to remember because it reminds me of God’s amazingly tender heart. It demonstrates how far God will go to rescue the lost and bring hope to the broken.
I first learned of Christ through a lady named Dorothy, a woman who lived in a tiny, humble mobile home who opened her home to a bunch of hyper, poor mobile home kids. I don’t remember much—how often we came or what she said. But I remember she gave us popcorn and that she told me about a God who loved me so much, He died for me.
That truth penetrated so deeply, I grabbed hold of it with my entire, young being.
And then we moved. And moved again. Far from Dorothy, who never saw the fruit of her labor.
But God didn’t let that emerging flame die. Somehow, we always lived near very strong Christians. These believers invited me into their homes where they loved on me and demonstrated grace in action.
During my teen years, things got crazy, and eventually, I ended up on my own, crashing wherever I could with my belongings jammed in a plastic garbage bag. Soon, I lost hope for better and fell into survival mode. But although I gave up on myself, God never did. He never left me, never stopped pursuing me. And when I hit rock bottom, I fell smack into the palm of His hands.
“See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands; your walls are ever before me” (Isaiah 49:16, NIV).
For the next decade, God gently, consistently, patiently showed me His love, and in doing so, showed me I was lovable. He showed me I had value. He gave me, in my hopeless state, hope and a purpose.
He hasn’t let me go since.