Authors: Sarah Jakes,T. D. Jakes
Tags: #Biographies & Memoirs, #Ethnic & National, #African-American & Black, #Specific Groups, #Women, #Christian Books & Bibles, #Christian Living, #Personal Growth, #Religion & Spirituality, #Inspirational, #REL012070, #REL012040
© 2014 by Sarah D. Jakes, LLC
Published by Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South
Bloomington, Minnesota 55438
Bethany House Publishers is a division of
Baker Publishing Group, Grand Rapids, Michigan
Ebook edition created 2014
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means—for example, electronic, photocopy, recording—without the prior written permission of the publisher. The only exception is brief quotations in printed reviews.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data is on file at the Library of Congress, Washington, DC.
Unless otherwise indicated, Scripture quotations are from the Holy Bible, New International Version®. NIV®. Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide.
Scripture quotations identified
are from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
This book recounts events in the life of Sarah Jakes according to the author’s recollection and perspective. While all the stories are true, some names and identifying details have been changed to protect the privacy of those involved.
Cover design by Peter Gloege | LOOK Design Studio
Front cover photography by Brian Braun
Back cover photography by Will Sterling
Author is represented by Dupree/Miller & Associates
Because of family I’ll never be able to fully thank, friends that could never be replaced, and a blog that encouraged more people than I’ll ever get the chance to hug . . .
For the tears I cried and the ones I held on the inside. For the truth I wanted to erase and lies I thought I had to tell.
Then there are the two hearts that grew inside of me that protected me from dangers I’ll never know.
The insecurities I thought I could never love and the past I tried to escape. Because I believe all things, even our missteps, work tog
ether for the good of those who love Him.
I gave Him my pain.
I gave Him my shame.
And He gave me the grace to heal.
Foreword by Bishop T.D. Jakes
Introduction: Getting Lost
1. Growing Up Jakes
2. New Worlds
4. Blueprint for the Future
8. Wedding Bells
9. The Honeymoon’s Over
10. Playing Games
11. Every Ending Is a New Beginning
12. Grace on My Shoulder
Conclusion: Being Found
About the Author
I NEVER THOUGHT
as I rushed down the hall to the delivery room to visit my newly born daughter that the day would eventually come when I would be writing a foreword preparing your heart for one of the most riveting experiences of her life and my own. At that time I hadn’t been established as a writer myself, so I guess it was totally beyond my imagination that a day like this would come. Who would’ve thought that this little bundle of purity and protoplasm would bud and blossom through thorns and thistles and ultimately evolve to the degree that she has indeed been transformed.
I came into the hospital room; I had not long to refresh myself after her mother’s labor. Neither my wife nor I had caught even a minimal amount of sleep. So I was back at the hospital, dressed in a black suit and a black clergy shirt as it was Sunday morning, and I had in my hands a brand-new red and white ruffled dress for the baby to come home in later. She was the newest member to the Jakes clan. I also had in my other hand a worn Bible whose pages promised the Savior would never leave me nor forsake me. He didn’t leave me.
But I would come to learn that His promise wasn’t to my wife and me alone but would also extend to our seed!
Later I would lift her up into my arms and feel her fragile little body fit neatly in my hand, almost like the Bible I had when I arrived. Little Sarah, laying in white sheets, cooing from her crib, was almost as red-faced as the dress I had bought her. She looked up at me with walnut-shaped eyes that were almost as dark as a fine piece of onyx. She smiled a coy smile that would later be the catalyst from which I would become solidly and sometimes completely wrapped around her little finger. Some of you will remember I wrote the book
Daddy Loves His Girls
. I guess it is the way that many fathers experience waves of that protective love in the presence of their daughters. Anyway, her toothless grin radiated sunshine from her bed, and I can still remember the sweet scent of fresh baby oil and powder coming from her body. She was simply amazing!
What a surprise she was to us all. Her older sister was less than a year her senior. I had already been juggling twin boys, and now two girls, in my arms simultaneously. I was a struggling pastor who had lost his job at a chemical plant and was fighting to feed my family between feeding a small flock of church members in a rural area when she was born. At that moment I was uncertain that I would ever be able to adequately feed either the church or the children the way I desired. But I purposed in my heart to give both my best! Still, none of those bleak realities diminished the dimples on her cheeks or the effervescence of her radiant eyes as she stared at me from the crib.
Given the turbulence of the times in which she was born to us, I should’ve known that this was the beginning of an adventure as wild as an Indy 500 race car on an oil spill! I can assure you of one thing, there was seldom a dull moment back then. So when Sarah tells her story, all I can say to you is fasten your seat belts; you are in for a real ride!
Given our meager fare, and my concern with girding, guarding, and guiding my family, I was more preoccupied with provisions than purpose. This is a common proclivity among men. I looked at her and thought to myself,
How am I going
to feed another mouth?
Still, as I gazed at her somehow she distracted me from my focus on my responsibilities, and I found myself smiling at her little face.
For a moment I was wondering how this new arrival would affect our lives, and not just how she would add to our already strained budget. To all of this she just looked at me, opened her mouth wide, and yawned! She was something else. She was totally oblivious to the world’s economy, my layoff from the job, or anything else. It was nap time to her. That was all that mattered, and she just dozed off, fast asleep in my arms, leaving me to figure the rest out!
These were the early years of our lives. It was the beginning of a saga that would often be filled with uncontrollable laughter, as all my children have a real sense of humor. And at other moments we had an unspeakable concern and anguish as we steered all five children through the turbulence of adolescence. And if that weren’t enough to make your green eyes blue, we would be destined to figure it out while adjusting to living in the public’s glaring eye. We had gone from a simple rural life in a small town to life in the very fast lane of a cosmopolitan city. It was a world as foreign to us as a sky loft apartment on the planet Mars! But I guess it doesn’t matter the backdrop, life is always an adventure from which only the strong survive. All of us have a story to tell. But not all of us survive to tell what happened and how we triumphed over the many tragedies that happened along the way.
The path we were to travel was as curvaceous as the West Virginia roads where Sarah made her entry into this world. Even back then we had some battles, but none of those challenges prepared us for
the category-five storms that hit us when we loaded up the truck, like the Beverly Hillbillies, and headed to the bright lights and bustling highways of Dallas. In a few short years we would lose both my wife’s mother and my own. Illness would strike my wife multiple times and back pain would drive me to surgery.
I was too young myself to understand that all storms have an expiration date. I didn’t know that tough times are a part of life. That there is an end to tears and that they do dry up with faith and prayer. Little did I know that after deep pain and heartburn beyond belief that wisdom falls like the morning dew and that we would collectively become eyewitnesses to the transformation of a human soul from the best front-row seats imaginable. These are the seats you sit in when the drama you see on television and read about in the papers is now being acted out in your house!
I guess I should at least warn you. Do not expect a Sunday school storybook filled with Christian colloquialisms and religious rhetoric. Nor are you about to read a stereotypical memoir of young ladies’ or little girls’ experiences while growing up. Instead you will see the perspective of one little girl whose childhood was nearly stolen by “grown woman” experiences. But today she has become a tool fit for the Master’s use.
I will leave you now for Sarah to share the life lessons that have come our way. I pray that it ministers to you as it did to me. And I pray that your thirst is quenched at the living well of Christ’s eternal spring, as He deserves the glory for this book and the outcome of this story. It is to that eternal fountain that both my daughter and I invite you to come. Come and drink from the place where lost souls are found and lost passion is reborn. This is the gushing geyser of truth that may very well ignite your dreams to flourish as you encounter what God does with a child whose parents’ prayers are answered in her response to His sovereign call. No matter how
bleak the night, hold on. Joy really does come in the morning. For a moment we almost lost her to the dark night. But like the father of the prodigal son, her mother and I are thrilled to see her come back down the road. My daughter was indeed lost and found!
Bishop T.D. Jakes
AS THE MOTHER
of two elementary-age kids, I’ve learned that over the course of a school year a lot of things go missing. A backpack, water bottle, jacket, hat—you name it—simply doesn’t make it home after school one day. My casual questions about the location of a particular missing item are usually met with a blank stare by my son or daughter.
The first few times, this was very frustrating. It felt like I cared more about a
Dora the Explorer
lunch box than my daughter did. Or that I would miss my son’s basketball more than he would. But then I became acquainted with the secret that almost all parents learn to utilize in recovering half their child’s possessions: the lost-and-found shelf at school.
Even if the recovered items are small or seemingly trivial, I still love the feeling of finding something that was lost. Who hasn’t left their car keys in a jacket pocket or forgotten their phone in a waiting room and felt the relief and gratitude for finding it—then made the mental note not to let it happen again?
So much of our lives revolves around the pain of what we’ve lost. And the joy of what we’ve found.
From time to time, we all lose things. Yet some things we aren’t always able to locate and recover. Lost time is certainly one of these. And everyone who knows me will testify that time management is one of the areas of my life where I need the most improvement. No matter how hard I try to be on time, it rarely happens.
In the hours before I’m scheduled to be at an appointment, time ticks by so slowly. Then inevitably something comes up and it seems like someone has pressed fast-forward on my life. Suddenly I’m racing around my bedroom to get ready, hoping I won’t be embarrassingly late. A quick look in the mirror and I’m off to the car.
Then once behind the wheel it hits me: I don’t really know where I’m going. But once I’ve mapped out the best route to reach my destination and am on the road, I finally relax. I know I’m going to be a little late, but it won’t be too bad, maybe by just a minute or two. I turn to my favorite radio station, humming the words to my favorite tune. As soon as my heart reaches a steady pace, however, the cars in front of me begin braking. One by one the red lights appear, signaling my biggest fear.
I’m going to be very, utterly, embarrassingly late.
The traffic is at a standstill for as far as the eye can see. My exit is just a couple exits up from where I am, though, so I start veering off the highway. Surely I can find a side street that runs parallel with the highway to help me reach my exit. Turn after turn, decision after decision, I end up more lost and even later than I would have been had I just stayed on the highway stuck in traffic.
I hate it. I hate feeling like maybe I wouldn’t be so late if I had not started doing the laundry or had just waited to paint my toes. I wouldn’t be so far behind had I not walked the dog and washed the
car. If only I hadn’t become impatient and tried to find an alternate route. If only I had planned to be early for once.
Sometimes I find myself wondering just how much I have lost in life because of the moments when I tried to find my own way and ended up more lost than ever. What if I had waited to fall in love? Or if I had just finished that course, would I have graduated by now? I wonder who I could have been had I never taken a wrong turn on my life’s journey. Without all those wrong turns and unexpected delays, who would I have become?
As if these questions aren’t enough, I also feel taunted by the idea that I’m late. Can you relate? The later it seems we’ll be, the less important the destination becomes. We think to ourselves, “I can’t fix my life now—I’d have to start all over”; “I can’t dare to love again—it’s too late”; “I made a wrong choice, and now I’d rather stay here than try again.” How often do we become lost in the maze of our own mistakes? How stubborn have we become that we refuse to ask for directions or assistance along the way?
Too often, life has a way of making us believe that each wrong turn means we’ll never end up at our divinely appointed destination. But that’s not true. We must take a moment and stop our questioning and what-ifs to realize that time, like life, isn’t about how much we have; it’s about what we do with it.
It’s a funny thing, feeling lost. It makes you feel like you’re out of control. Being lost is most frustrating when you know you have an appointment to keep. When you get lost on a casual day, it becomes an adventure, an unexpected few moments to relax with some quiet time away from others.
Driving around and getting lost can become an exhilarating escape when you don’t feel like other people are watching the clock and wondering where you are. The burdens of the day, weighing on you so heavily that you’d rather be in a car taking the long way home than to admit that your reality is worse than your fantasy, slip away with your favorite song on the radio and the sun warming your face.
Sometimes you find yourself when you get lost.
If you had told me the girl who got pregnant at thirteen and felt like the black sheep child of America’s favorite preacher would now be a twenty-five-year-old single mom, divorcée, author, motivational speaker, TV personality, ministry director, and senior editor, I never would have believed you. But knowing it’s true, that I’m all these things and so much more now, I’d say the only way to get your bearings and find yourself is to trust that you were never really lost. Amid all your twists and turns, perhaps you simply haven’t discovered the right direction yet.
God loves the lost. And He loves to help us find our way when we turn to Him and ask directions. Jesus talked a lot about lost things. About a poor woman who lost her only coin and then swept every inch of her house until she found it. About a compassionate shepherd who noticed that one of his sheep had strayed from the other ninety-nine and needed to be rescued. About a loving daddy who let his rebellious son do his own thing before he came crawling back home to his dad’s open arms.
Often we think about our salvation experience as one of being lost before we are found. And this is true. But I also think that even though we may be found, sooner or later we’ll turn down a side street looking for a shortcut, finding ourselves lost again. Just because our salvation is intact doesn’t mean we always know where we’re going.
No matter how lost you feel, it’s not too late.
You can still get to where God destined you to go.
He’s waiting to find you no matter how often you lose your way.
My life now is everything I ever needed, but nothing I ever wanted. Growing up, I dreamed of doing things the “right” way. So I made decisions to create my vision of what I thought would perfect my image. After the unraveling of each of those attempts, I found myself lost—down-to-my-knees, tears-on-my-face, scars-on-my-heart
. I came to understand the only way I could be found was to admit I was lost. Because I realized that when princesses don’t follow directions, they can’t inherit the palaces that their Father the King has waiting for them.
We can’t find our way home unless we admit we’re lost.
In the pages that follow, I want to share my story with you. And yes, I realize that you may wonder what I, having lived only a quarter century, could possibly have to say to fill up an entire book. But I think if you’ll share my journey, somewhere along the way you will recognize yourself and your own experiences of being lost and found. And my hope is that whatever grace I’ve tasted and whatever wisdom I’ve gathered can now be given to you. My story is not always pretty, but I think you’ll agree that parts of it are beautiful. The parts where God finds me and reminds me who I am. The moments when He sees me as His daughter on a divine collision course with my destiny.
The same way He sees you.