We are influenced every day by people, and some have a lot more impact than others.
Did you know actress Selena Gomez is paid $800,000 per Instagram post? I guess that means she has some influence. Others who make a fortune influencing, or maybe a better term is “selling,” with Instagram posts include Kylie Jenner, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Justin Bieber, to name a few.
In a world that seems to increasingly grow darker, I am amazed at how God uses the most creative and unimaginable ways to let me see the light and know He is real.
Nearly 20 years ago I was given a gift—a Bible.
For someone who was raised going to church regularly, this may sound like a surprising gift. But I didn’t own a Bible, and I had never picked one up to study or read. Sure, I went to church and even attended Catholic school for nine years, but I didn’t know a lot about the Bible.
The gift came after a discussion about Jesus and how His death covers our sins.
I didn’t grasp this.
I don’t think my friends expected an immediate change in my thinking, but because they weren’t afraid to share the Gospel, my walk in Christ was furthered.
When I look back, it’s amazing to see how God has continued to call me to Him through others. I didn’t have a personal relationship with Jesus for the first 20 years of my life, but God works in His own time and in His own way.
I was always aware of God’s presence in my life and leaned into Him from a very young age. But when it came to what He did for me on the cross, I just didn’t get it.
But, oh, how much Ephesians 1:11 means to me now. “In Him we were also chosen, having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will.”
I remember the first time I saw The Outlook. I was living at my sorority house in college, and it came in the mail. I only knew Southeast as “some big church.” I didn’t even know where it was located. But being a lover of words, I was drawn to the newspaper. I wondered what exactly attracted so many to the church.
I soon moved to New York City, and it was no coincidence that my roommate was a deeply faithful, Southern girl. When I arrived, I noticed the Bible on her shelf and pegged her as a “Bible thumper.”
My roommate and I become fast friends and she took me to the Brooklyn Tabernacle. The church was on her New York City bucket list, but I had never heard of it.
That was the first time I was in church and thought: “I want to have what these people have!”
They were so filled by the Spirit of God. I had never experienced anything like it.
Fast forward a few more years, I fell in love and had a big Catholic church wedding. As part of the church’s required marriage counseling, we met for a few weeks with another couple from the church. I remember thinking some of the things they said were bizarre—like the fact that once married, my husband would become No. 1 in my life (aside from God)—not my friends or family.
But God was doing something.
By the way, I still had that Bible. It was collecting dust on my bookshelf.
Sometime later, I picked up a book on a clearance table at a bookstore. The author was Liz Curtis Higgs. I had never heard of her, but the cover drew me in. (Yes, I do judge a book by its cover.) Turns out, it was a series, and I loved it.
After I read the books, I was pretty surprised to discover they were based on real people—Jacob, Leah and Rachel in Genesis. I looked up the author and discovered she was going to be speaking at Southeast. I couldn’t wait to attend, but I had no idea what I was about to walk into. I walked into Southeast alone, and it was huge.
But God had me run into an old friend. It turned out this event was a kickoff for a Women’s Bible study.
One thing led to another, and I was sitting in my first Bible study. I’ll never forget how much I learned. I couldn’t get enough.
Suddenly the pages of that gift from so long ago were being turned daily.
About a year ago, I was driving home with my kids and a commercial came on the radio for The Southeast Outlook. My son asked me why I didn’t write for the newspaper.
God used an 8-year-old to nudge me in the right direction. His prompt encouraged me, resulting in the words you are now reading.
Maybe in my love for words, God knew that a Bible would be one of the best gifts I could ever receive. What a treasure that Bible has become. I’ve highlighted it, cried with it and rejoiced over it.
God’s Word has become everything to me. I now have a relationship with Jesus, and it all started because someone influenced me.
Let’s not take lightly how God uses us every day to influence those around us. Our words can bring life or death. Your relationship with Jesus has a direct impact on your relationship with others.
I have been influenced greatly by many—through a sermon, a song, a thank you, an email or even a smile. I’m thankful God uses others to shine His light.
When the light shines, the darkness loses its grip. Praise God for His great Word and grace. My prayer for you is that you become an influence to others, leading them to God’s loving embrace.
Amy Potter, a member of Southeast Christian Church, is a prayer warrior, wife, mother, teacher, worker, writer and a few other things—a Supermom.