All through life I've had to face the struggles that most of us do in order to overcome life's many hurdles. But it felt as though I had been dealt a hand that was much more demanding than some.

As a child I can remember how hard it was to deal with adversity, no matter where I looked, there it was staring me right in the face. It was something I couldn't seem to get away from. At times it seemed unbearable but somehow I had managed to stand up under its heavy weight. To this day, I am still trying to shake off some of my past in order to learn how to live with less and less excess baggage. This I attribute to the experiences I had encountered when I was a child having to maneuver my way through a large family, finding various ways to cope with life's day-to-day situations. It seems that even now, I am still trying to find that path. Time went on and I fell into all sorts of life's little grooves where I was taken along and to some extent, had to learn the hard way in most everything I did.

And now the story begins...

I was number 4 in a family of nine children, while even though I had it pretty good as I was growing up, there was always something missing. A void that no one through life should have to experience but unfortunately, some do. I had no real father figure throughout the time I was growing up due to the fact that my father was a Merchant Seaman and was seldom ever home because of his job. That left quite a void in my life that was really not revealed to me until some years later. I say this because as children, we tend to become so caught-up in our own lives that we hardly ever take a look at the circumstance around us. Therefore, we might not be able to assess that there is really even a problem. But it would fester years later.

There was always that emptiness in my life, which left me searching for something I could never find. It resulted in a lot of loneliness and frustration at times because I generally had a hard time learning how to deal with life itself. I never quite knew how I should react. From one day to the next, I found myself existing in a cycle almost as if I was reaching out of a pit, trying to pull myself up just so I could see the light of day. This for the most part, was a very frightening feeling but I would have at least survived another day. Growing up in a neighborhood with a large number of kids on the block made for numerous occasions where I had to try and protect myself from another part of me being taken advantage of in one way or another. I had no defense mechanism that I was aware of and this left me quite vulnerable to those around me. I found that people mostly liked me for what I had to offer, rather than for who I was. This kept me in a kind of fearful, watchful state of mind, which quite frankly, consumed a better part of me throughout the years. I was never really able to socialize to the point where I felt comfortable enough knowing that people accepted me for who I was and not for what I had to offer.

Several years had passed along with many of life's experiences only to find that it was now even harder to try and climb out of the pit that I felt I had been thrown into. Struggle after struggle, how would I ever make it? It seemed as though no matter what I did, I could never get passed that obstacle that stood before me. That sense of feeling secure in who I was, not worrying about what other's thought and being able to cope with life's every day problems in a rational manner. But in reality, some of the things that happened to me were not "life's every day problems". Those... I still have to try and let go of.

It's amazing how the impressions that have been stamped upon our lives at an early age, remain with us as though it were yesterday. And when we find that when having to deal with those feelings that come up, it's like having to cut away a callus that has been there for all those years, protecting us from an even greater hurt that would have taken place had it not been there. But did we ever stop and think that those calluses may have also interfered with us having to experience what was necessary for the vital development needing to take place at certain points in our lives? It's fine until we start peeling away the various layers in order to get down to the sensitive areas and in touch with our true feelings, but it also takes a lot of work in order to regain the ground we may have lost. Therefore, our minds end up being tossed to and fro as in a raging sea, not knowing where to turn to next!

I can remember several occasions where I found myself feeling outcast and that my normal surroundings had never really become a reality. No matter what I did, it was as though I was existing in a world that was not my own and it would become that much more difficult to deal with life's day-to-day events. Ironically enough, I managed to find comfort in all of this but it would only be temporary. I ended up carrying the weight of things that had happened to me for many years. This resulted in an even greater degree of loneliness and frustration.

Soon enough, times had changed and it seemed as though things were getting better and then suddenly, they'd start eroding right beneath my feet. I'd try and figure out why things were the way they were and where I might have gone wrong. My insecurities would start building and before I knew it, I was right back where I started. Somehow along the way, I was never really able to get on course and then would suffer the repercussion from not having had a strong foundation in my life. But years later, God would intervene taking up that slack, giving me something I never had.

He let me see that no matter what had taken place through the years, it was for my good and there was nothing that God didn't allow. He showed me, even though I could not see, His hand had been upon me and that He brought me through everything I had encountered. At times when in the midst of our troubles, we cannot see the world around us but God is still in control and will wait until the appropriate time to intervene. And that's just what He did with me! He not only brought me to a point to where He would teach me to trust in Him but then He comforted me right where I was. So God began to work in my life and it would be many years later that He would start to reveal even more of Himself and more of what my life was about. Even though it felt as though I had been in a prison for many years, it didn't seem quite as bad when I saw that God was working all of what had happened for my good. And what had happened was now being used to bring freedom to my life.

As I sought God and studied His word, He began to reveal to me that my life was just like someone in the bible and his name was Joseph. Some of you may not know the story of Joseph and if you care to, you can read about him in the book of Genesis chapters 37 through 50.

It was a number of years before I would experience first hand what God had meant when he referred to my life as being somewhat similar to that of Joseph's. What I mean, is that God would show me along the way through what had happened to Joseph that I too had some of the same feelings and experiences that he himself had to deal with in his life, while growing up. Some of which were identical and would require integrity and a great deal of character in order to succeed. For instance, one morning I was reading before I went to work (this would be the year of 1990) and all of a sudden the story of Joseph comes to mind. Immediately, the Lord started to reveal to me basically what would be taking place throughout a portion of my day before I had ever left the house. I kept this in my heart and proceeded to leave for work. I showed up on one of the jobs I had scheduled for that day and wouldn't you know it... what the Lord had said was now coming to pass. I had dealt with the situation accordingly! I then proceeded to go to another job I had scheduled and again... what the Lord had said was coming to pass. I had dealt with the situation accordingly!

Well, aside from sharing all the details, needless to say I was exhausted from what had unfolded throughout the course of the day. So I came home and laid down for a while before I would have to get back up and get ready to go to church that night. Well, I was in a state of disarray from the day's events along with some other things that had been bothering me. So during the time I was getting ready for church, I was thinking about how nice it would be if the Lord had a word for me that night. I remember as I was ironing my shirt, I shared this with the Lord and all I heard was; "You'll be last"! Well, that told me that somehow I was going to be ministered to. That night we were having a special guest speaker who operates in the gift of prophecy and he had come to minister at our church. My job was to lead worship before service and then turn it over to him for the remainder of the night.

After the worship service was over, the gentleman came up on stage and proceeded to lead us in some more songs. At one point, he had asked the congregation to stand and worship the Lord with our hands held out in front of us, so we did. During that time, I was focusing on the Lord and all of a sudden, here's what I had experienced... on the back of my head it felt as if someone had breathed on it and at the same time I heard the name "Joseph". I didn't know what to think and immediately I looked behind me to see if someone had whispered that to me. When I turned around, I saw someone who I didn't know and who was even more lost in worship than I had been. It had puzzled me for a moment but then I knew it was the Lord's voice I heard. Shortly after, the guest speaker asked everyone to have a seat.

The man began to call people out of the congregation and started to minister to them one by one. I could feel my heart racing, wondering if what I had heard at home was really true... "You'll be last". Wow, I had no choice but to believe! The most difficult thing at that moment, was having to wait. He kept ministering to people and as I saw it, the night was coming to an end and there would be no time left for me. At that, the man called to me and said; "Young man who lead worship tonight, the Lord gave me a word for you today"! After that, he asked me to come forward and he put his hand on my head and and began to minister. The first words that came from his mouth were... "Just as Joseph was thrown into a pit, so were you thrown into a pit"! And then he proceeded to minister to me through the story of Joseph. One thing I forgot to mention... I was last.

Through the course of events that had taken place in my life the only advice I can give, is that God is quite aware of your circumstance and He will work for good any and everything you go through in order that His life may be revealed through you, as a witness to others.

"And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose". Romans 8:28