McCracken-Brown, Michelle

My story with the Lord began as a young child. My mother sent us to church services with my aunt, a regularly active church member. At 16, I informed my mother I was of an age to make my own decisions, church was not serving any purpose for me, and I was no longer attending. 

I did not return to church until I was 33 years old. I had finished my service in the military in Omaha, Nebraska. At the time, I felt there was a void in my life and I had no purpose.  
I realized if I was going to discover my purpose, I needed to reach out to God. 

I found a job as a psychiatric coach and facilitator, and God placed me with two associates who joined me in Bible study at night when the patients were sleeping. I visited both coworkers’ churches, one at a mega church and the other at a smaller Catholic congregation. I attended other services as well, but could not find a church home. 

In my searching, I felt like God was calling me, and I remember saying to God,
I hear You calling and I’m trying, but I’m pretty frustrated right now.” 

The next day, my cousin, who was stationed in Japan with the military, contacted me for the first time in years. I spoke with her about what I was going through and she advised me to find a Church of Christ in the area. I went to service the following Sunday and was re-baptized the same day. I re-dedicated my life to Christ, and have been a faithful member for the past 28 years. As it turned out, the congregation was mostly military or ex-military and offered support for people transitioning from active duty back to civilian life.

I was home.

God has certainly been active and moving throughout my life. Since reconnecting with Him, I have had plenty of “it’s me again, Lord” times when I have seen the Lord working. In 2019, a few events occurred that transformed my relationship with God. Our church had a terrible upheaval over changes in the doctrine and we had an ugly split, along with all the relational pain and brokenness a split brings.

Simultaneously, I had a horrific accident and broke my leg in three places. I was homebound for almost a full year, lost my job, and of course the pandemic swept in. I was not in a good space, angry and saddened about the church split, the job loss, the accident. I felt betrayed by people I trusted and felt shame about my own lack . . . all with nothing but time on my hands for all these emotions to fester and grow. 

But God, two of the greatest words in the Bible! 

God used this time for introspection and growth. I realized I had become complacent with church and work and busy with life. I filled my days with serving and church activities, but left no time for a close relationship with God Himself. I had always been faithful in doing, but lacked faithfulness in knowing and pursuing God. I needed to build an intimate relationship with Him. 

While I was ridding myself of that which was not pleasing to God,
God literally and figuratively demonstrated He is Who He says He is,
He is faithful,
and His promises are true. 

All affirmed truths! 

There were so many lessons of faith, grace, and forgiveness, it was almost overwhelming.  I have always been a praying woman but even my prayers were transformed, and the Holy Spirit was ever-present, leading the way. 

Pruning removes diseased, damaged, dead, and non-productive tissue from plants. It promotes concentrated growth and encourages production of a maximum crop, without delaying maturity year after year. What an analogy for the last 2 years of my life! I am so humbled by His love for me! 

I now understand my purpose is to glorify God in all aspects of my life, to be faithful unto death, to be obedient to His word, and most of all, to love! Sisters, be devoted to the Lord; He will never leave us nor forsake us! Amen!

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