I spent 32 years being God’s gardener, and I didn’t even know it. I was never given a timeline that mapped out exactly what struggles I would have to endure before dancing through the flowers. At the time, it just felt like I was walking through dirt.
You see, I didn’t know God for 32 years of my life. It’s not that I didn’t believe in Him, I just assumed that if there was a God, I wasn’t His type. A child of an alcoholic mother and an absentee father, I wasn’t really their type either. I wasn’t the type worth sticking around for, and I wasn’t the type who deserved a present and loving parent. It made sense to me that God, wherever He was, felt the same. I saw God the same way I saw other kids’ parents; great for them, but too good for me.
I didn’t start those 32 years of gardening by mocking God, but that is where I ended. It brings me deep sorrow to admit. That the God I love and worship so passionately now, I so frivolously mocked before. But I openly share that part of my story because it is, it is a part of my story. It is the part that makes my testimony so powerful. It is the part that proves Jesus is alive and forgives all sins. “You believe in Jesus?” I asked my dad. “I didn’t think you were that stupid.” A way to mock both my father and my Father.
Fast forward to my final moment in my life before Jesus. I was a 32-year-old woman, completely wiped out on the inside. For 32 years I searched for love, belonging, and meaning, and somehow ended up addicted to dangerous drugs, in and out of jails and psychiatric hospitals, and prostitution. I was tired, and I had neither the ability nor the desire to live to see another day.
Prayer was the only thing I had not tried. Desperate, I clenched my hands over my heart and fell to my knees. “If anyone can hear me, fix me or take me!” That night, a man came to me in my dream. He had the bluest eyes I had ever seen. Transparent blue like the sky, with sunlight reflecting from the inside. He told me Satan’s only weapon was using me against myself, and He told me He saved a room for me in His Father’s House. He never told me His name, but He didn’t have to. I spent the next 24 hours searching the internet looking for a picture of Jesus that reflected the face I saw. I still have not found an accurate picture, but I have no doubt that is who it was.
The narrative of my life is a two-part story; the 32 years before I met Jesus, and every day after that. Not only did I never use drugs or prostitute again, but I use those very struggles to encourage and empower other women going through the same. I once mocked the very same Name I now shout from the mountaintops. Turns out I’m exactly God’s type. I never wonder what would have happened had I reached out to Him sooner because all of the days leading up to that moment prepared me for my salvation. Every struggle, every heartache, every tear, were seeds being planted in God’s Garden. I didn’t know it then, but now, as I dance through beautiful flowers always in bloom, with my hands held to the sky in worship, it seems obvious to me.
If it looks like you’re walking through nothing but dirt, without meaning or purpose, how can you be so sure you aren’t God’s gardener?
Written in Jesus’ name by Nicole Reynolds.