After just 4 short months of finding our church home, we decided to take part in our first church conference/retreat.
It was the church's Summer Conference which is the largest conference of the year in which people from all of the churches in our network come together for 3 days to learn more about & worship God. If you missed the back story on my faith, you can click here. I knew about Jesus, I believed in Him, but having a real relationship with God was something that I lacked.
I was 7.5 months pregnant with my youngest at the time & had just been diagnosed a few weeks before with gestational diabetes.
I was still coming to terms with & trying to accept the fact that I had developed diabetes as a result of my pregnancy. I was angry because I had no risk factors for the disease, yet somehow I was now diabetic? I was having to count carbs, watch everything I ate, & having to check my blood sugar 4 times a day. I mean, what pregnant woman wants to be on a diet, right?!
I remember sitting during the evening session on the 2nd night of the conference & praying that God would protect my health & the health of my baby. Being a nurse, I knew that having gestational diabetes put me at a higher risk risk of developing diabetes in the future as I got older. I also knew that babies who were born to mother's with gestational diabetes were also at high risk for complications post delivery. I was scared & I was worried. I was worried about my health & the well being of my little one. I began questioning God & wondering why He would let this happen to me.
While sitting there with all of these things going through my mind, my small group leader, Jessica, asked me if she could pray for me. Because she was my small group leader (& my friend), she knew about other things that had been going on in my life as well, so she began praying. She was praying about things I had been struggling with, but wasn't specifically addressing the issues with the gestational diabetes & the fears I was dealing with.
Then, as I stood there with with my head down & my eyes closed, I felt someone else come up from behind me & lay hands on me. She stood there beside Jessica & began listening to the things being prayed. The moment Jessica paused, I heard this other woman speak up, she said....
"Tonya, I was sitting a few rows back & I saw Jessica praying for you & I kept feeling like God was saying for me to come over here & tell you that everything is going to be okay"
Well, that was it folks, I lost it!
Tears welled up in my eyes & began streaming down my face!
Keep in mind, the woman who had said this to me & felt like God had asked her to do it, was a complete stranger to me! She told me afterward that she blew it off the first couple of times she heard God asking her to do this for the mere fact that she didn't even know me & she didn't want me to think she was crazy, but she felt like God was being persistant in asking her. Let me just say, the moment I heard her say that God said everything was going to be okay, that I in NO WAY thought she was crazy, but instead felt completely at peace & so loved.
God loved me so much & knew me so well...He knew exactly what was on my mind & knew exactly what I needed to hear! Not only that, but He used a complete stranger to deliver His message which was also a total faith builder for me & something that He knew I needed! There is no way this woman would have known what I was going through or what to say to comfort me, but God did! It was in that moment I knew that He loved me.
Later during the conference, members of my small group & one of our staff pastors gathered around me, layed hands on me, & prayed for my health, the health of my baby, & for the remaining weeks of my pregnancy. I never once had a single complication with the diabetes. I was able to control it the entire time with my diet alone & my son was born without any complications as well.
Or was it the hand of God watching over me?
I'd like to think it was the latter. :)
No matter what it was, I do know one thing, that God loves me & He knows everything about me. He knows me even better than I know myself! The reason he knows so much? Because He loves me & cares for me deeply just like he does with all of his children. And it doesn't matter what you've done or how rotten you think your life has been, I know without a shadow of a doubt, that He loves you too!