This is a very long article by Joyelle Wills
I’m not sharing all of it here, but it’s well worth reading.
The link to the article is at the end. God Bless
I can never transform the culture around me as long as I am comfortable being just like it. I can’t follow the ways of the world and get to where God wants to take me.
Every word that I write is written with personal conviction because of my own failures, temptations, and battles.
First, I think it is important for you to understand my personal testimony – I grew up in the church, and I knew about God from the age of at least 5 years old. I answered my first altar call at a very early age, and I continued to answer altar calls until I was almost 40 years old. Throughout a majority of my life, I lived in fear and condemnation because I knew of God, but I didn’t KNOW God. I had accepted Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior, but I had never submitted myself to His Word. I religiously attended church; I worshipped like a good Pentecostal; I even went through the ritual times of Bible study and prayer…but I failed to put the Word of God into practice, and I lived most of my life confessing Jesus as Lord – but I wasn’t allowing Him to be My Lord.
By the time I was sixteen years old, I began to walk in rebellion. I no longer feared the punishment of my parents, and my belief in Jesus Christ waned as I wondered off onto a path of sin, bondage, and spiritual death that almost cost me my physical life. By the time I was 20 years old, I found myself divorced and headed into a lifestyle of perversion, addiction, witchcraft, and self destruction.
As I grew older, I became wiser in the ways of the world. I was miserable; I contemplated suicide on a daily basis. My religious rituals began to wane, and I became engulfed in a world of darkness and torment. I would attend church in spells throughout these rebellious years, and over and over again, I would find myself saying the same prayers at the altar. I would find myself emotionally charged by sermons and personally convicted by my lifestyle. But as soon as I would leave the walls of the churches I attended, I found myself right back in the cycles of sin.
It didn’t take but a few years before I found myself lost in a wilderness. I knew I was in the wilderness; I knew I had gotten way off track; I even attempted to get myself back on the right track. I failed every time.
By the time I was 30 years old, I was spiritually dead on the inside. It didn’t happen all at once but slowly – one bad choice at a time, one bad relationship after another – soon, I found myself in bondage to cocaine, crack, marijuana, alcohol, fornication….all the things I spent my life judging other people for – now became the very things that were killing me. I often found myself praying that God would take my life because I had no idea how I would ever break free. My suicidal contemplations became more severe, and much of my lifestyle was a reflection of how passionately I desired to die. During these years, I found myself in and out of hospitals, homeless, jobless – I was diagnosed with everything from manic depression, borderline personality disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, attention deficit disorder, depression – and everything about me echoed each diagnosis. But the doctors couldn’t help me.
I desperately wanted to change, but I didn’t know how. There was a disconnection between my knowledge of Jesus Christ and my ability to allow Him to transform my life. I was at the end of myself, and no professional could give me the help I needed.
God was not silent in my life during this time. There was hardly a day that went by that I didn’t, in some small way, hear Him calling me – He used many people to encourage me throughout these years, but it would be a great struggle to find my way back from the wilderness – back on the path God originally intended for my life.
The past eight years, I have been in the process of deliverance. It never happened all at once, as it often does for some people. Sure, there was an almost immediate deliverance from the lifestyle of hardcore drugs and fornication – but I can tell you that a majority of my lifestyle took way more effort to walk away from then it did to become in bondage to.
A couple of years ago, God began to do some serious work in my heart. I was free from most of my issues, but there were still areas of my life that I was struggling with. I wanted to change, but I lacked the power to do it myself. This is when God began to teach me about what it meant to abide in His presence. This is the point in my life where He taught me that religion would not be enough — that what I needed was a personal relationship with Him — that I needed to commit to a lifestyle of obedience to His Word, self control — I need to submit to the process of sanctification.
This has not been an easy process. It has taken a great deal of dying to myself. It has taken laying down a person that I was much acquainted to and very comfortable being –
I think it is important for people to understand just how close I came to dying…because this is why I can’t afford to take any sin in my life less than serious. As someone who struggled with drug addiction, lying, perversion, and all sorts of other evil for over 20 years of my life – I can’t afford not to take my salvation seriously. I have wasted enough time sitting on the fence and being lukewarm and religious. God didn’t give His Son, Jesus Christ, to just rescue me from hell! God raised His Son, Jesus Christ, from the dead, so He could live in and through me, and be glorified by His transformation of my life and manifestation in my life! I am living breathing proof that God is a God of restoration and deliverance. The lifestyle I live today is only because of the mercy, grace, and favor of the Lord Jesus Christ.
Today, I live free – today, I do not walk in the shadow of any medical diagnosis; I have no secret lifestyle that I am trying to hide; I know who I am in Christ, and I seriously want to damage the work satan wants to accomplish in the lives of people. I realize that God rescued me for one reason alone – to be a living and breathing testimony of what God can do in a person once she has totally submitted her life for HIS.
I cannot afford to sit stagnant. If I don’t grow in Christ, I will die. I need more than religious rituals. I need more than church. I need to be actively engaged as part of the body of Christ. I am looking to grow in Christ; I am looking for something different than what I have always known, and I am headed to a place I have never been! When you have been where I have been and almost died in the pig pen, maybe you will then understand why I take things so seriously.
We are each called to speak the same Message to different people. The people God has called me to encourage probably don’t come from the same walk of life as you. They need more than religion. They need a lifeboat! This is my cry – this is my testimony – this is the reason for my urgency – this is the reason I write. And there are many many people out there who are sitting right where I have been, and they need you to be all that God intends for you to be.
During the past six months, I have found myself hungrier and thirstier. I have had a deep-rooted desire for more of God. He has begun to show me that in order for Him to completely fill me, I have to allow Him to completely empty me. He cannot pour new wine into an old wineskin.
I know we have heard this over and over again throughout our church walls – but have we really allowed the Holy Spirit to make it relevant to our daily walks with Christ?
Warning – this is not going to be a message that tickles your ears – nor is it for the faint of heart. This message is for those who are looking for meat to chew on – those who are uncomfortable with where they are and desire more of the power of God to manifest in their lives. Please understand that I write what God teaches me during my personal journey with Him in hopes that it will make others thirsty and hungry too.
Let me give you an example of what I mean – something I just personally experienced:
I was convicted by how I spent my free time because I was a 40 year old woman who had been in church for most of her life but had never read the entire Bible from front to back, had no real understanding of Scripture, could barely find the different books of the Bible, much less tell you any great detail or revelation about the great patriarchs of the Bible and their relevance to my life today. My children could recite all of the lyrics to most every major pop song and discuss at length the story behind all of the favorite television shows and movies, but had very little knowledge of the relevancy of God’s Word, how to apply It, or what resources It actually provided them in their Christian walk, much less how to activate It in their lives.
Just recently, I disgusted myself. My husband and I rarely go to the movies; it seems like there are very few gems to find in the middle of the junk yard. A few months ago, the kids were all gone, and we decided to go see Part 2 of The Mocking Jay. I should have known better than to entertain the idea, but being that we had already seen the other parts- our curiosity had gotten the best of us.
The headache and stomach ache came as the previews began rolling….up popped a preview for an upcoming movie called Sisters – my mouth dropped open. It’s not as if I have never seen such filth before because there was a time in my life where that was much of my input. But this night, it just didn’t sit well. As I watched the homosexual innuendos, women parading themselves as street trash, and a celebration of debauchery and fornication preview before me- my ears stung with the giggles of the crowd, my heart pained with the realization that there were many children crowded in the theatre, and my Spirit became extremely convicted that this wasn’t where I would want Jesus to find me if He were to return! Why would I want to sit there – knowing that what I was trying to feed my flesh was sin in my Father’s eyes and quench the Holy Spirit?
I realized what I was watching was blatantly opposite of everything the Word of God says is Truth. There was this sudden moment of revelation that this was the place God wanted me to allow the Word of God to actually cause me to walk differently than I once had in my previous lifestyle. I heard the still small voice of God inside of me echoing – “Joyelle, is this true? Is this honest? Is this just? Is this pure? Is this lovely? Is this a good report? Is this virtuous? Is this praiseworthy?”
I found myself convicted. I realized that what I was allowing in my ears was not at all the things God wanted me to be thinking about. I realized that at some point I had to quit talking about the Word – and at some point – I had to actually do what It says. It became clear to me, that this was an example of where God wanted me to cast down every high thing that exalted itself against my knowledge of Who Jesus Christ is. I recognized that this was the place I needed to stand – I heard God speak clearly to me, “Joyelle, guard you heart diligently – for out of your heart – are your issues. You can’t engage in something contrary to My Word and expect not to become tainted by it.”
Daniel and I decided that the precious moments we had been sharing pursuing our Father’s heart was too valuable to overlook what He calls sin. We did something we have never done before- we got up and walked out within 5 minutes of the movie. Praise God, the manager even gave us a refund without any question. Sorry folks, I am going forward; I have a race to run- this world will never get the point until they see the body of Christ take a stand. And this is where I stand! No more lukewarm- ever!