Over twenty-five years ago, I made the decision to leave my hometown in Detroit Michigan. When I considered leaving back then, I was faced with the decision to either move to the west or east coast of the country. During 1992 what a young black male mostly heard from the media, the streets and others was that the average black male would not live past the age of twenty-five. Some young men were involved with a life of drugs, a life of crime or could possibly be killed by black on black crime. My mindset was that if I am going to possibly die before age twenty-five, I wanted to find out what I was good at before it happens. I first considered moving to Los Angeles, California, but because of the clothes that I wore, I had concerns that my life would be at risk. The types of clothes that I wore were Oakland Raiders jerseys similar to the rap group NWA. It was important to me that I did not present the wrong image about who I was and find myself constantly harassed by the police. I listened to rap music and I had even made a rap record called Running in Fear. On the other hand, if I moved to the east coast of New York, there were the issues of racism, homelessness, and poverty in the Big Apple. However, after much prayer, I made my decision to begin my journey of faith by purchasing a one-way bus ticket to New York.
When I arrived in New York, for a week I lived in a shelter with seven other men having to sleep with one eye open and the other shut. However, through the favor of God, the very shelter that I lived in became my apartment a few weeks later where I stayed rent-free for a year. I came to New York wanting a better life for myself with only thirty-five dollars in my pocket which was barely enough to pay for the next meal. I remember getting off the Long Island Railroad train in Hempstead, New York not having a clue which direction I should go and find a place to sleep. My dreams to some people may have been simple but to me they were big and I wanted to find out what I was good at before I died before age twenty-five. My dreams were I wanted to be a respectable man, become a good husband and a father who be there for his children. As I write this blog post twenty-five years later on my 50th birthday, the Lord has been faithful to fulfill my dreams. It was His grace and mercy that followed me the days of my life which made sure I would not be another young black male involved with drugs, a life of crime or killed. My journey of faith in the Lord has been because of three main reasons that I would like to share with you. The first reason why the Lord has blessed my journey of faith is that He revealed to me in His word that surrendering your life to Him is a journey of faith. The second reason why the Lord has blessed my journey of faith is that He gave me a testimony to declare as a voice and not an echo. Finally, the third reason why my journey of faith has been blessed is that every day the Lord reminded me that my story is not over yet.
Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
And lean not on your own understanding;
In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct your paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
My Journey of Faith
The first reason why the Lord has blessed my journey of faith is that He revealed to me in His word that surrendering your life to Him is a journey of faith. As a man surrendering your life to the Lord it is not an easy thing to do. Though it is not easy, however, it is a necessary thing you must do as a man. When you were a little boy, you were taught by those who raised you to hold things together. A man is supposed to not cry, he supposed to be in control and not to lose his emotions. A man can never fully understand the importance of his journey with the Lord until he surrenders his heart to Him. The world always tells us as men that we have to be on top and we have to be in charge. However, in God’s kingdom, the greatest place that a man can be is in the place of brokenness on his face before the Lord. The word of God says Psalms 34:18 that “The Lord is near to those who have a broken heart, And saves such as have a contrite spirit”. In our brokenness, God helps us to be made whole in areas of life where we have been damaged and wounded by people. In surrendering ourselves before the Lord He can then exalt us into places, positions, and blessing that He has ordained for us.
When a man surrenders his life to Christ it does not mean that he is weak or that he is soft. To surrender your life to the Lord is to acknowledgment to Him that you know, He knows what is best for you. In Psalms 31:15 the word of God says that “My times are in Your hand”. Have there been times in my life when I tried doing my own thing a part from God, the answer is yes my brother. Have there been those times when I became impatient and I could not understand what He was doing and I wanted to give up, the answer is yes my brother. Yes, there were many nights I walked in my neighborhood park with tears in my eyes and crying out to the Lord. In the midst of the storms of life, I felt the temptation that said that I should not come back home to my family. However, I am so grateful to the Father that He gave me the strength to stand on His promises which helped me to continue my journey of faith as a husband, as a father and as a man.
A Voice, not an Echo
The second reason why the Lord has blessed my journey of faith is that He gave me a testimony to declare as a voice and not an echo. In my life, I have always felt this conviction on the inside of me that there was a message that I should share with others. I believed that the message was to give people hope, encouragement and to discover their dreams which were inside of them. I even one time went to see a motivational speaker who taught people about learning how to find the message that was inside of them. I soaked up every minute of that motivational speech that the speaker gave which fueled me to want to know the message and the voice that the Lord had given me. I would share with most of my childhood friends that I did not want to just talk about one day being successful but I wanted to go out and give it my best. Over time I have watched how the Lord has brought clarity to the message and the type of voice I would speak to people. Through all my pain, my mistakes, and tears, the Lord would transform my lemons into lemonade that would be a blessing to others.
As I celebrate this major milestone today, the Lord has helped me understand that a man without his darkest struggles is a man without a voice but only just an echo. You ask Elder Strong, what is the difference between a voice and someone who is just an echo? What causes an echo to happen is when a person says something, the reflection of the sound bounces off the surface like a wall or a building. Instead of the voice of the message bringing change into the life of those who hear it, what was said by the person bounces back having no influence on them. In Proverbs 18:21 the word of God says “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit”. Through my journey of faith, the Lord has taught me the importance that my words have power and they must always be rooted and grounded in the promises of God. When I was I was a child, I spoke as a child and what I said to people was only echo that bounce back because people never took me seriously. However, when I became a man and put away childish things. I spoke with a voice of authority that let the devil know you cannot have my family, you cannot have my marriage and you will not destroy my destiny (1 Corinthians 13:11). My brother the Lord does not want you to be a man who is just an echo in this life. However, the Lord has called you to be a voice that cries out and your life would point people to Jesus (Matthew 3:1-3).
My Story is not over
Finally, the third reason why my journey of faith has been blessed is that every day the Lord has reminded me that my story is not over yet. One of the many revelations that the Lord revealed to me is when He asked me the question what was the meaning of my name. The name Walter is German and which means “ruler of the army or strong leader”. When the Holy Spirit instructed me to take my last name and put it in front of my first name, He said to me that I have called you to be a “strong leader”. The Lord revealed to me because I am Walter the third, that for three generation I have been calling for strong leadership from your grandfather, your father and now from you. I committed myself to the Lord that I would accept his call my life, to be a leading man, a leading husband, and a leading father. I know that my story is not over though things may not be happening as quickly as I would like it to be. I know that the Lord is the Author of my life and He still has more chapters to reveal to me which He has already written before I was formed in my mother’s womb. The word of God says in Psalms 139:16 that “Your eyes saw my substance, being yet unformed. And in Your book they all were written, The days fashioned for me, When as yet there were none of them”.
On this day I want to encourage every man rather you are married, separated, divorced or single, your story is not over. If you are a natural father, godfather or a father through adoption, despite what may be going on with your children, our God will have the final word in their life. The Lord still has more chapters which have been written to reveal to you by allowing you to see a new day that you have never seen before. Yesterday is behind, today is the present before you so do not look passed it focusing on tomorrow. Enjoy your journey of faith man of God by walking by faith and not by what is discouraging you. The word of God says in Hebrews 12:2 that Jesus is the “Author and Finisher of our faith”. Your faith maybe being tested and tried by fire but my brother your story is not over. You may feel that in your journey, God has got you going around the long way to your blessings while it appears everyone else is being blessed right away. You may feel that in your journey, the times of delay feel like denial but my brother, your story is not over. There may be times when you feel forsaken and misunderstood by others but your story is not over my brother, because the Lord is for you, He with you and He is in you.