“Dear God, come into my heart and make me powerful.” -Me, at the age of five.
I don’t like sharing the deep details of my first encounter with God, because my intentions would be exposed… and my intentions weren’t pretty.
After getting spanked with a belt for what felt like the hundredth time (young minds have a way of exaggerating, so don’t quote me, probably more like twentieth), I ran outside and laid down on the cool California lawn, staring up at the few stars I could see.
My mind went racing, contemplating that someone had to put those stars there, and to put those stars there, that someone had to be powerful. In that moment, all I wanted was to feel powerful.
I couldn’t run from being spanked. I couldn’t fight being spanked. So I allied myself with someone more powerful.
No one led me through a “sinner’s prayer”. No one told me the “magic words”. Desperate to become powerful and not alone, I prayed, “Dear God, come into my heart and make me powerful.”
Shortly after that, I prayed for a little brother to “annoy my parents”, out of spite and vindication. I was mad, but now I was powerful, and I was gonna have my way.
With confidence, I marched my five-year-old, cocky self to my mom, told her she was gonna have a baby, and it was gonna be a boy.
I had no concept of sex. In fact, I wouldn’t learn girls had pleasure in sex till I was 19 at Bible school of all places. But with or without my mom’s permission, she was gonna have a kid. Why? Cause I prayed, and God was living in me now.
Little did I know that my parents weren’t “planning on having a kid” anytime soon. But nine months later I had a baby brother.
Shortly after that, my mom asked me to pray for her friend to have kids. “She can’t have babies, Brandon. But if you prayed for her like you prayed for me, maybe she’ll have one.” I did, and nine months later she had a baby. A year later, she had another.
In my young mind, I was convinced that if I prayed and asked for it, God had to do it because I gave Him my heart, and He now lived in me. I was powerful. In the following years, I would pray for another family’s fertility and also a young girl that had leukemia. The family had a girl, and the child with leukemia was healed.
Why do I share this, especially when I could have hidden my motives forever? Why expose myself and not pretend I came to Jesus with a pure heart?
Because that’s just simply not true, and I think there’s a lesson to be learned here in how God functions.
In the book of Acts, there’s a man named Simon. He was a sorcerer. He wanted to be baptized so he could say, “In the name of Jesus” and perform miracles. He came to Jesus for power. Just like Simon, I came to Jesus for power. They were wrong motives. But He used it.
Not only did God answer my VERY simple prayers (“Jesus, give my mom a son”), but He used it to gain a place in my heart. Once there, He began to change it.
Twelve years after praying that prayer, I transitioned from believing there was a God, to trusting God with my life, from manipulating a powerful force, to being transformed by that force.
Jesus had THOUSANDS of people following Him for free food. They didn’t come for the messages. They didn’t come because they believed He was the Son of God. They came because there was free food… and maybe because He took jabs at religious folk.
But He used it.
He used my need to feel powerful. He used Simon’s greed for fame. He used a multitude’s hungry stomachs.
He will take what you have–period–and use it to gain space in your heart.
I do not trust Jesus because I magically saw who He was and instantly turned over my life in hopes of becoming a missionary to starving orphans in Africa, or some other noble, selfless cause. I came for a selfish cause–myself. But He took it. And I’m so glad He did.