Updated: Dec 20, 2020
Day 26: Crossroads (the Threshing Floor)
"No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it." 1 Corinthians 10:13
Today, I give thanks for the crossroads in life, moments of extreme testing and decisions.
Life is full of crossroad moments where we often wonder at the threshing floor, the gate/door, "what do I do" or "what's next" or "where am I supposed to go." We sit in a valley of decision, sometimes with great hesitancy, because we know that our choice has a huge weight in determining our future. At these moments, we must choose wisely. Our choices can determine if there is a birthing of forward progress and promotion or abortion, resulting in stagnation and death.
In crossroad moment, we are tested and stretched in ways that we have never experienced before. Most often, we are required to sacrifice something. Our innate talents, skills, and gifts are exposed and put to work. Our character undergoes a magnified scrutiny and the goal we are trying to reach is being planned out but not quite attainable yet. At the crossroad, to fully cross over the threshing floor requires bold action, faith, perseverance, submission, certainty and surrender (complete abandonment).
Years ago, I was in a very unhealthy living environment and needed to move immediately. Because of a previous difficult situation, I couldn't readily find the housing I wanted for me and Lilah. In addition to all of my other responsibilities, every day I was relentlessly searching and applying for a new place and getting NOTHING. Because my need to move was immediate, I remember begging the Lord to open a door of opportunity for me to find immediate housing, especially since I had exhausted all the possibilities of doing what I knew to do. My last (and only) option left, which I was beyond reluctant to do and avoiding at all cost, was to go into the shelter system. When God told me that He wanted me to go into the NYC shelter system, I was floored. I could not believe that the infinite, all-knowing, wise God of the Universe, who owned a cattle on a thousand hills', plan was for me and Lilah to go to a shelter. I thought my spiritual ears had been clogged and I was hearing from the wrong voice. All types of red flags and concerns started flooding my mind. I thought about how dangerous a shelter environment would be for Lilah and I was not at all in agreement with that choice. I had to fleece God. I said "if this is you speaking, you are going to have to give me three clear signs that we are supposed to go to the shelter by midnight." The last sign came at 11:59 pm that very same day. The next day with two bookbags on our back, we headed to PATH, the headquarters for Department of Homeless Services (DHS). To hear more about that experience, you can purchase a copy of my book "Thirty Days of Thanks: A Journey Towards Healing and Deliverance." We spent the following eight months in a NYC shelter system being extremely uncomfortable, horrified, and tested.
In that crossroad moment, I had been tested and had to make a decision. Do I stay where I am and die or do I trust God for forward progress and promotion? The scripture verses in Proverbs 3:5-6 kicked in like never before. They reminded me to trust in the Lord and lean not to my own understanding. My understand could not fathom a shelter being the choice I should make. The scriptures also state that if I acknowledged the Lord at all times and every situation, He would guide me to where i needed to be.
During my time in the shelter, there were lots of sacrifices made and a stripping of many liberties. We had curfews; we had mandatory appointments and check-ins. We were subjected to illegal environmental conditions, such as lead and black mold, that could/would go uninvestigated by the institutional structures. The shelter was a drug dealing haven and had cases of domestic violence happening regularly.
My gifts were being exposed and used constantly; it was almost another job. Since I am an organizer/activist by nature, I began teaching the residents how to effectively report illegal conditions and circumstances that were occurring in our shelter. The racked up tons of fines while I was there that administration was secretly holding meetings on ways to get me kicked out of the shelter. Upon arriving to the shelter from work or an appointment, the staff would say "I told another person to come to your room to get help with an issue they are having." After seeing how I taught Lilah and used arts and crafts to teach her verbal skills and daily planning, the Department of Education coordinator for our shelter asked me to organize sessions with the parents who had special needs children to teach them how to more effectively help and work with their children as well as give them access to all the resources I had at my disposal. I printed out pages of all the available affordable housing buildings and apartments within New York city and state and collated them into packets. I made several booklet packets to give to every case worker and some of the residents. I used my connections to provide meals on Thanksgiving, gifts for the children at Christmas and a special mother's day beauty extravaganza. I made up in my mind that nothing would stop me from helping myself and the residents get to a better state than where we were.
My character was under complete scrutiny. The head administration of the shelter was waiting to see if there was anything that I would do to violate their rules and regulations. Since we had curfews, I had to get passes to go to church on Friday nights. Some of my church's events that were late on weekday or weeknights, my case worker did not give me passes for because he knew how much I wanted to go. Sometimes, I submitted to his authority and didn't go to the events at church. Sometimes, I went to a higher authority than him. He was often upset when I went over his head to get passes from his boss to go to a church event. Residents in the shelter were watching my every move to see if I could and would maintain my integrity at all times. They were watching to see if I could endure the suffering and persecution that I was undergoing and still maintain my faith in God. It was eight months of going through pure hell and God kept me sane and from the jail house. At all times, my integrity was in tact and I kept doing what God told me to do there.
The end goal of going through the shelter was to attain housing. After four months, I should have been out of that shelter. I had planned and applied for so many housing opportunities for which I was accepted. As punishment for helping the residents in my shelter, three housing opportunities that would have gotten me out the shelter much sooner were hidden from me. But, God allowed that too. When the opportunity for me to move into my building came, a lady whose name I don't know called my case worker and said that she had to stay anonymous but that the Lord told her to call and tell me that I had an interview with my building the following day that I could not miss. Her boss, who I met later, was going to hide this opportunity from me again but God said that He wanted me to move into this place and that this was the blessing he had for me and my daughter. How great and merciful, God is! I was planning for the goal, evil people were trying to block me from attaining the goal, but He made sure I would get to the goal anyway.
After I made the right decision and the extreme testing was completed, the promotion and revelation came. Lilah and I got our place in the complex God said was His blessing to us. More importantly, God chose to reveal to me the "whys" of it all. My great grandmother (Mama), a prayer warrior/intercessor moved to the Bronx many moons ago from down south and lived on Bruckner Blvd and White plains Road. She lived in the complex adjacent to where the Pathmark (now Western Beef) used to be. My great grandmother loved the Bronx and her community, just like I do. Her spiritual post was on Bruckner Boulevard; she prayed and was a gate keeper in the physical and spiritual realm for her community. She fed and took care of the community and the children in it. In fact, two of my uncles are the community children she took in and raised as her own, without the foster care system or adoption and without any distinction that they are not her biological children. (It is crazy how I didn't even know that fact until I was grown!) When Mama died, God granted her the gift of making someone else in her lineage another gatekeeper in the Bronx on Bruckner Boulevard. I was given that legacy. On the very day I viewed my apartment, as I anointed the walls and blessed it, God said "I know you didn't understand why you couldn't leave the shelter earlier but I was preparing this place for you. Like your great grandmother, I have given you this post and have made you my gate keeper on this side of the Bruckner." On that day, I not only attained my goal of shelter, I had inherited my legacy. And crossing over the threshing floor, I committed to serve my post (of the South Bronx) physically, spiritually and wholeheartedly.
Today as we give thanks for crossroads, while you are in your valley of decision, choose to meditate on Proverbs 3:5-6 and absorb it into your spirit until it becomes action. Be ready and willing to sacrifice, use your gifts and talents, undergo character checks, and plan for your goal. Most importantly, get ready for your promotion, if you can successfully pass the testing. I invite you to bless the organization Charity Water (https://www.charitywater.org/donate), which gives clean water, a necessity of life, to communities around the globe.
Have a great day of thanks!