As a small child, this may come as a shock, but I was NOT the perfect child. In fact, when I did something wrong my parents would ask me why. “Why did you lie?” or “Why did you hit your brother?” I would answer “I dunno” and I meant it. I didn’t know why I did things I knew were wrong, but I had a sense that something was missing, I just didn’t know what. I found the answer at church. I grew up in a family where it was expected that you go to church. For the longest time, I thought church was a great place to play, sing, and hang out. When I started actually listening to what was being said it became apparent that I was doing things I knew were wrong. That was my nature, and not just mine, all of human nature. All people have fallen short of God’s glory, and we call it sin.
I can vividly remember the conversation I had with my father following this realization and his response. The solution is a relationship with God and I wanted this relationship, so I simply asked him. I said “Jesus, I believe that you are God and died for me. I want you in my life.” And it changed everything. I was so excited about my new relationship with God that I began by telling my friends about Jesus. As I got older I continued wanting to learn as much as I could about God. I started journaling, titling each entry Dear Jesus. I read and studied my Bible to get to know Jesus more and I keep a list of prayer requests and record when God answers them. I wrote about my hopes, fear and desires for the future.
There have been many small steps in my walk with God but a major step, in my faith journey brought me to Haiti on a church-sponsored trip to share Jesus, and our time and resources with the people of Port-au-Prince. Our team was tasked to build the second floor expansion of a local church. While building the new roof, the structure collapsed while myself and three others were on it. We fell over fifteen feet with rebar, concrete, cinder blocks, and scaffolding equipment and we all walked away with only scrapes and bruises. Anyone of us could have died, but we didn’t. I consider this a miracle that happened and I confidently say that I am hear today because God saved me. To this day, my favorite Bible verse is the one I read that morning about God’s faithfulness being renewed every morning. Lamentations 3:22-23 reads “Because of the Lord’s great love we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.” I decided that I wanted to share God with people as my life’s work.
I pursued my degree in teaching after I spent one year immersed in the Bible at Word of Life Bible Institute (location?). I wanted to ensure that I had an answer for why I believe what I believe from anyone who asked me. It was during college that I met and married my husband Sean while working to put myself through school. We settled in Plainville and I got my first teaching job, setting the stage for another major step in my faith journey. Exactly ten years after my trip to Haiti, I was confronted with how my body manifested the trauma of the event as an irrational fear of swallowing pills. That was the year that I was diagnosed with Ulcerative Colitis, a painful condition that causes more than three feet of my body to ulcer without a clear reason. The treatment: swallowing many large pills multiple times every day and three months of recovery.
At first I’ll admit I was mad at God, but in the midst of struggle I found peace and strength in God. It wasn’t easy, but God brought me to the realization that He needs to be my everything. From my journal at that time: “My prayer today is for strength, for courage to speak of God’s faithfulness to me in my affliction. I pray for wisdom with how to use the events of my life to glorify you. Lord, be with me every moment of today.” More devastating than my diagnosis, was the fact that it would be difficult to have our own children. After four years of recovery, Sean and I had started the adoption process when we unexpectedly found out we were pregnant and 10 months later had our miracle baby Eliott whose name means Jehovah is my God! Every day, taking my medicine is a struggle, but everyday God gives me strength, and everyday is a victory!
God has been faithful, every step, and He has been faithful through every part of my life. He has given my life purpose and meaning. I share this because I want you to know Jesus too. If you have questions, come talk with me after the service. Thank You.”
Rebecca Lawrence grew up in New England, loves teaching in Lawrence at a non-profit, and is excited to be a part of Cornerstone Congregational Church. She loves God, her husband and son, and has a heart for service.