This Father-Daughter Walk
I was born into a Christian family (Catholic), and church was pretty much the center of most of my activities. I was a member of my church choir, the youth group and at some point a member of my Parish Council. In my country, Gambia, I attended only Christian schools (kindergarten- high school). I learned about many of the Bible stories at school and church. Some, I had memorized word for word as it was written in the Good News Bible that we used by then. I would later regurgitate the words during tests and exams, and I mostly aces my religious education classes.
For a long time, church readings were just another repetition of Bible class stories. In my teen and young adult life, I wasn’t a big trouble kid, I was not an angel either. I followed the church teachings most of which sync well with my culture and environment. I worked as a banker and had pretty substantial income for the country’s standard. Everything looked normal, but inside I was empty and incomplete, both professionally and relationship wise. I didn’t have a relationship with God even though I was told He is responsible for all the good things in my life. Then I started seeking him. I joined the Catholic Charismatic Renewal group and attended weekly bible teaching, praise and worship nights. Here, I began to understand the true meaning of the Bible stories. They ceased to become stories, but true word of God. However, I did not stay a committed member of the group and eventually stopped attending gatherings.
In 2009, I fell terribly ill, I almost died. During this sickness, I pleaded with God to save my life, and He did. I later recovered, and in the next two years got a visa to study in the U.S. At my college in WA State, I joined a Christian club on campus- CRU. Bible sharing, teaching and other activities at CRU really kept me grounded in the Word of God. In winter 2013 and 2015, I attended the annual CRU Conference and each time was a turning point for me. Throughout the past 3 years I have been continually searching for God. I started to intentionally read and study the Bible, watched more gospel preaching on TV, listened to praise and worship songs in my car and room which all helped me understand more about what the Word of God says concerning my life. It was in this process that I truly felt the revelation and deep meaning of John 3:16. I remember falling down on my knees and profoundly sobbing and thanking God for His Love. The more I search for God, the more I feel His presence and realize that God was, is and will always be right by my side and that He wants a personal relationship with me. Now, going to Sunday mass and receiving the body of Christ has a deeper meaning and healing that I can’t sufficiently explain. Through this journey, I have learned to forgive others who fault me, ask for forgiveness from those that I’ve wronged and seek for God’s mercy and Grace. One of the amazing feelings I have in this journey is the deep sense of peace, belonging and love I experience since I totally surrendered everything to God and trust in Him alone.
Prior to this, my knowledge of God was that He is a father in Heaven with whom I talk to only when I went to church or in need of something. Just like kids’ idea of who Santa Clause is, so was mine about God - play the good card, be on the good list, but play the bad game and be on the naughty list. The best part of this relationship with God is knowing that He loves me no matter what, and that I am saved not by any good deeds or might, but by the Grace of God through Jesus Christ His Son. Over the years I have enjoyed many of God’s favor. I just love how I can just be vulnerable to Him at any time, and He sure does respond whenever I invite Him in any thing I do. Though, I may have ups and downs in my life, the assurance of a Father who never leaves me alone keeps me at peace and hopeful. This journey gets sweeter with time. “Oh, taste and see that the Lord is good: Blessed is the one who trusts in Him!” Psalms 34:8.