First, I'd like to start by paying my respects to the beloved Pastor Leonard Jones. You know, it's something to remember all the things your pastor did when you were a child, and believe that he was the best man in the world. I understand that all pastors have their flaws but to a child their like the earthly Jesus who is leading you to the real Jesus who is faultless and blameless. This weekend, people from all over will honor his life, his ministry, and his love. I was baptized by him in 1980 and as he grabbed my hand and said come on Danya, I can remember feeling so safe from all hurt, harm, and danger; as Christ grabbed his hand, I can imagine that he felt the same as I did on that wonderful day.......safe from all hurt, harm, and danger. Rest in Peace Pastor Jones, and I promise daily I'm getting right because this church will one day go home.
Now when I read the Word of God and it speaks of the patriots of their day, my mind often reflect on the patriots of my day who paved the way for me. Not by preparing a career for me, but by preparing me for everlasting life and life more abundantly. I can't help but remember all the days Mother L.B. Ford (my grandmother) sat me at the table with her Sunday school book in hand and said, "Read this and tell me what you think the Lord is saying here." I would read and as I tried to rationalize what I'd read with the intellect I had, she'd say, "Just let the Holy Spirit tell you what it means." Then as if a light would turn on, there was a glimpse into my mind at exactly what God was telling through the Boyd Sunday School lesson writer. For this she will forever go down in the book of Danyelle as one of the patriots who lead me to my purpose.
There was Louis Jefferson Ford who sat me at the table for dinner, and as I prepared to bow for grace he said, "Today you need to give a scripture." All I could think of sitting at the table, with the eyes of him and my grandmother peering at me as if they were pulling out the answer to all of their questions, was "Jesus wept." He said, "Yes He did but you must know more than that scripture to remain grateful for your food." The next time, I told myself I would be ready and when he sprang that at me, I'd give him, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believed in Him would not perish but have everlasting life." I knew it, I read it in Sunday school, but when he asked I just couldn't think of it all so I said, "Jesus wept and He died." With a slight nod he said, "That's part scripture and part reality, next time do better." I was ashamed and sad but he reminded me, "You learn the Word so you will never forget to be grateful." For this she will forever go down in the book of Danyelle as one of the patriots who lead me to my purpose.
Then there was Estelle Sample who would call me up to read in front of the whole Sunday school class week after week. I would dance up reluctantly in my ruffled lace socks and ponytails ribbon tied, wondering of all the people in the class, why did she have to pick me? So one day I got the courage to tell my grandmother on her and this is what she said, "She keeps calling on you because she sees something in you." What did she see? I didn't quit understand but she reminded me that by and by I would understand it better; and I do. For this she will forever go down in the book of Danyelle as one of the patriots who lead me to my purpose.
There was the white haired lady who sang so eloquently by the name of Dorothy Carthorn. All I wanted to ever do was dress and sing like her. She was all I thought I ever wanted to be and when she allowed me to get close, she realized that I viewed her like she maybe should have viewed herself. I will never forget the watch she bought me with the reminder that a young lady should always be on time. I shall never forget and although I struggle someone deep down I know that when a woman finds integrity, she finds a reason to be on time. For this she will forever go down in the book of Danyelle as one of the patriots who lead me to my purpose.
Then there's Zanzie McCoy who said to me, "Danzell you can do it gal. Now get these here chullin and start this mission back up." I never knew that in order to groom a church mother, it started in her early twenties when she wasn't fit to live and surely not fit to die. She took me in my lowest moment and gave me something greater than I. For this she will forever go down in the book of Danyelle as one of the patriots who lead me to my purpose.
Then there was the great Superintendent David Gatlin. The man filled with wisdom who could somehow see more in me, than I could see in myself. He would gather his bible and I'd sit in a chair to the right of him and he'd pour into me verse by verse, page after page. No one imagined that I'd be so interested but something longed for me to know why holiness and nothing else. He said, "One day when you stand before people, always be mindful of what you wear. If you can, wear a robe because everyone is not there for the right reason." It took years to understand but a blessing to have obeyed and for this he will forever go down in the book of Danyelle as one of the patriots who lead me to my purpose.
As I write now, I'm almost overtaken by my tears, but this one thing I know.....had it not been for these and so many more, I would have never stepped into the light of my living. And I said to Pastor Jones when I struggled with the longing to preach, "I struggle with my purpose." And he said, "Now I don't believe in women preachers but if you get big you can always tell them you came from me." At that point I didn't feel rebuked but I felt that no matter what he knew I would do what I felt right and he wanted nothing more than to be known as a patriot who lead me to my purpose.
So although they are gone, I would like to one day be considered as them. A woman who lived with integrity. Who blessed the Lord with her heart and her substance. Who loved in spite of but because of her love for Christ. Who gave a child a reason to break away from shyness and to explore the fact that they can do all things through Christ. Who was a role model to some young lady searching for truth. Who pushed someone to their purpose by recognizing the spiritual gift in them. Who gave someone proof that the Word works and gratefulness dispels haughtiness. A woman who understood that holiness without no man shall see the Lord. So as I once feared death, I understand that my patriots prepared me for life on earth without neglect that I'm just a pilgrim passing through this foreign land and everything I do is about the day when the angels will "Take Me To The King."
You know how we feel like the fruits are in total operation in our lives until you are placed in a situation and realize that the fruit you thought you have was no longer on your tree, or either just a little rotten. Well, that's exactly how I was and I'm truthful enough to say, "My fruit tree needs to be prune and repaired." If you are wondering how can it be done, let me tell you. In order to reproduce, grow, prune, or replace any of your fruit, you must go back to the giver. Now might I add, you better be careful when you go there because you will be put to the test until your harvest is developed!
Sometimes we feel that as soon as we get the Holy Spirit, we should readily be equipped with all of the spiritual gifts and fruits of the Spirit that He gives, but unfortunately that's not so. Just as you came to the realization that you needed the Holy Spirit to become involved in your life, so it is with His gifts and fruits. He is readily able to produce in you what can rightfully belong to you, but you must come to an awareness for your need of them; with gifts, you must understand the purpose of having them which is to edify the church. Now your Spiritual fruits are to equip you for life in harmony with the Spirit and others who have been blessed with the same fruits. So here's my dilemma.....
I decided to let each fruit of the Spirit have its very own tree in my life. By this, I can put each one to use as needed and recognize where the lack is and the need for pruning, picking off, sharing, and cutting down to replant. So in my life I have a love tree, joy tree, peace tree, long-suffering tree, gentleness tree, goodness tree, faith tree, meekness tree, and temperance tree. The blooming and production of each tree allows me to maintain a level by which my flesh is constrained. Now, as most of you know my husband was in a horrible wreck December 2012 and it has taken so much and many of my fruit to maintain the level of care that he has received from me. As well as, to give to others who at their point of need bring buckets to my tree. Now he's doing much better but in order for him to have liberty of moving around in our home, I had to remodel!
If any of you know the hassle of remodeling while still living in the home, you can testify that it is not easy. There have been days that I wanted to throw the workers out, the supplies out, and my husband out and just say, "All y'all come back tomorrow!" Nevertheless, my fruit would drop on my toe causing quick realization that I shouldn't even feel or think those thoughts. Then, as I sat this morning in meditation, I realized that my long-suffering tree was getting weak. I somehow got one of those fruit bugs on the loose. He's chopping at that tree and no doubt has went to his nearest kin to let them know a party is going on. This morning I realized that my tree sort of resembled a tree that has been battered by the winter storms. My long-suffering tree is suffering a deficiency! With that said, I had to pray this morning for some more power to suffer through.
I know some of you like me are dealing with a lot of suffering lately. It almost seems like when you finally get over one storm and your suffering pains seem few, them something else is thrown in the mix. Well, if I can encourage you today, I would start by saying to you, "Tell the Holy Spirit exactly what fruit you need in order to make it!" Then I would encourage you to ask Him to give you whatever He sees you lacking. See sometimes we think it's our temperance tree and it's really our long-suffering tree or even sometimes we thinks it's our peace tree and it's really our meekness tree that needs help. But one thing is for sure, the Holy Spirit knows exactly what fruit needs attention because He gave, can sustain it, and knows when it's in need of His help. Just say this, "Holy Spirit one of my trees needs some work!"
Like anything else in our bodies, when there is a deficiency going on we feel it. Boy! Do I feel my deficiency. And although my body isn't aching as my proof, the spirit of anger jumping in is all the proof I need. When the spirit of anger invades my life, I have come to understand that there's only room for him when I have a deficiency in either the Fruits of the Spirit or usage of my Spiritual Gifts. You must know your body, soul, and spirit in order to detect what's ailing you. So with all that said, pray for me as I continue to pray for you. Pray that the worm that's on my tree is killed and the kin folks he brought with him suffer just as he. Then come into agreement with me that all is well no matter what, and I will do the same for you. Be Blessed!