Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father's house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know.
Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me. If ye had known me, ye should have known my Father also: and from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works. Believe me that I am in the Father, and the Father in me: or else believe me for the very works' sake. Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father. And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son (John 14:1-13).
When I was around 12 years old and living at home with my mother and siblings, my mother's sister came to stay with us while she was going to college. My uncle, her brother let her drive his brand new red and white convertible Mercury to school everyday.
We were being raised on AFDC. At that time my mother had four children, two girls and two boys. We were all living in a two bedroom low rent housing project.
For some reason that I could never quite figure out, my mother and her sister just couldn't get along. They were always bickering, my mother being the oldest, and her sister the baby out of ten children, she always had the last word. That much I remember.
But somehow or another I was always caught in the middle of their arguments, and it was driving me crazy, just wearing me down. But the straw that broke the camel's back was this...
I had bought a new pair of green tennis shoes to go with my green plaid corduroy skirt that I really liked. The skirt had white in it too, so I had a white blouse that I was planning on wearing with it.
The problem was that when I let my mother know that I was going to wear my skirt to school the next day, she told me that I couldn't because my aunt had been lying around in it all day long, and it needed to be washed. My aunt argued that the skirt didn't need to be washed and I agreed, so I begged and pleaded until my angry mother relented.
That morning after dressing in my skirt, tennis shoes and white blouse I left the house with two angry women behind. I was suppose to turn left and head up the hill to school, but I was so frustrated with no words to explain why.
I knew that even if I went to school that day I would have to return home, and be in the middle of two angry women all over again. The anger was mostly on my mother's side as I remember.
Anyway, instead of turning left towards school I got the bright idea to go the my father's house, and beg him to let me stay with him. My father lived in North Richmond and we lived in South Richmond. I didn't know exactly where my father lived, only that he lived in North Richmond.
Although I'd never walked that far before and I didn't exactly know the way, I was determined to find him. So I started out turning right, walking past the park, and up the hill towards Cutting Blvd.
I knew the general direction of North Richmond, and I decided that even though I didn't know where my daddy lived, I reasoned within myself that it was 8:00 in the morning, and I had all day long to find him before it was time for me to return home to my mother's house.
I had also determined to knock on every door in North Richmond until I found him or someone who knew him, and could tell me where he lived. I didn't think it an impossible task. After all, I had all day long to find my father.
I felt my way street by street until I saw a train overpass that I knew led to North Richmond, so I continued walking with a sigh of relief because at least I had found my way to North Richmond.
A few blocks up ahead I saw the first house and walked toward it, the first door I had planned to knock on. Just about that time a car pulled up and stopped in the middle of the street. A black man rolled down the window and asked me my name.
I told him, "Bobbie". He said "No, your last name." "Bates, my last name is Bates," I said. He said, "Is Bates your daddy?" That's what they called my daddy, by his last name. "Yeah, do you know my daddy?" The man said, "Yeah I know Bates," he said. "Do you know where my daddy lives?" I asked. "Yeah, I know where he lives," he said. "Can you take me to my daddy," I asked. "Yeah I'll take you." Relieved I walked across the street and got in the car, and he started driving.
Then suddenly it occurred to me to ask a few questions. "How come you stopped," I ask him. "Because you looked out of place," he said. "How did you know that Bates was my daddy?" I asked. "Because you look just like him," he said. I, of course, never saw the resemblance to that degree. "How did you get out here," he asked. "I walked," I said. "From where," he asked. "From 26th street in Richmond, off Cutting Blvd," I said. "Lord have mercy", he said and started shaking his head. "How was you going to
find your daddy if you don't know where he lives?" he asked.
"I was going to knock on every door until I found him," I said. Another lord have mercy. "Who do you live with," he asked. "I live with my mother," I said. "Is something wrong at home," he asked. "No, I just wanted to find my daddy," I lied because I couldn't explain it.
We soon arrived at my daddy's house. "Wait here while I go see if your daddy is at home," he said. The man got out of the car and went to knock on the door. My daddy answered the door, recognized the man who told him what happened.
My daddy had this scared look on his face. I got out of the car and went to him, and he gave me a hug.
My daddy was thanking the man for bringing me to him, and the man was saying that he thought maybe it was something wrong, but he couldn't get me to tell him what it was.
They went back and forth discussing me, all the time my daddy was hugging me. The man left and we went inside. My daddy started asking questions right away.
"How were you going to find me? We moved since the last time I bought you home. Do you remember how to get to where we lived before?" he asked. "No," I said. I don't understand, how you were going to find me?
"Daddy, I was going to knock on every door until I found you," I said. Stunned he said, "What did you say?" he asked. He called his wife from the back room, and told me to tell her what I had just told him. "I was going to knock on every door until I found my daddy," I said. Shaking her head back and forth, Earline said, "Bates, that girl was going to find you."
My daddy kept trying to find out why I was there. "You're supposed to be in school aren't you," he asked. "Yeah, but I didn't want to go to school, I wanted to find you." He asked, "Is your mama alright?Are the other kids alright? Is anybody sick?"
The questions kept coming, but since I had no words to explain why I was there, I kept asking him if I could come and stay with him. "I'll wash the dishes. I'll take care of the kids. I'll cook. Just let me stay daddy," I begged. "I can't do that, your mama will get mad. I am going to have to take you back home," he said.
No amount of pleading would change his mind. "I'll tell what, you can stay for two days, and then I'm taking you back to your mama, but I've got to call your mama and let her know you're here with me.
He picked up the telephone, called my mama, and told her the whole story. I couldn't hear what she was saying, but she wasn't arguing and she didn't sound mad. There was something peculiar in my daddy's voice I remember, but he didn't sound mad or upset, not that I could tell anyway.
I started washing dishes and cleaning up, thinking that if I did a good job he'd let me stay. But he didn't change his mind. Early the next morning my daddy got up and left the house. I think he went to work the night before. I remember my daddy and uncle both worked nights at the Santa Fe Railroad.
Two days later he told me it was time for me to go home. I didn't want to go, but I had no choice. I was scared of what my mama's was going to do, and I really didn't want to go back into that bickering mess.
We got out of the car and walked up the sidewalk to the house. Daddy knocked on the door. Mama answered the door with a look I'd never seen on her face before. Not quite fear but something close to it.
"Anytime my baby have to walk all the way to North Richmond to find me, something is wrong. If you two can't get along you have no business staying together." he said to my mother and my aunt.
To this day, I don't know how he figured it out, how he knew what was going on, but I was so relieved I could have cried. He went on and on. Neither my mother or my aunt said much of anything to him. I was looking at them and shame covered their faces, now that I'm older I recognize it for what it was.
I think my dad conducted his own investigation. He went to talk to my mother's brothers and they all decided that my aunt would come and stay with one of them, which she did in a matter of hours. Peace reigned at home again.
I didn't want daddy to leave because I just knew the moment he did my mama was going to let me have it, but she didn't. She didn't get mad at me. Nothing. I was shocked but happy and peaceful again, and proud of my daddy because he figured it all out without me having to tell him, and he made it better.
Decades later, about the time I had made up my mind to rededicate my life to the Lord, my daddy came to see me, and I reminded him of that story. I felt like someone lost in the wilderness at the time, and I was determined to find my way back to the Lord. I was telling my father about it and comparing that story to what I was experiencing at the time.
"I don't know how I'm going to get to Him, but I'm going to knock on every door until I find Him," I told my father. I knew very little about God during that time, but I had faith that I would find him and make it right with him. I didn't go to a church because I knew I could find God again without going to a church that was all bogged down in legalism. I didn't want that experience again. I only wanted God. So I began my 30 year odyssey. I knocked on every door until I found my Father. I fasted and fasted. I prayed and prayed until God changed my name, and unraveled the mystery of my destiny, my purpose in life.
I had my conversation with the world and found nothing but dross, a complete waste of time and energy. I realized that God was the most important aspect of my existence, that He alone loved me for who I was. I knew that He would never hurt me, that He only had my best interest at heart. I knew that He would guide me, protect me and bless me according to His will. I have never ever been disappointed in God. He has showed me wonders and marvelous things. Most importantly, He has armed me with spiritual weapons that even I don't fully comprehend. He keeps on unraveling mystery after mystery to me, and I am a blessed child of God.
The first thing I did was to bring my flesh under subjection according to the Word of God, to the extent that I am in control of my body, my body does not control me. The second thing was to wait on God. It sounds easy to just wait. But it is the most difficult thing of all. I waited through disappointment. I waited through betrayal. I waited through pain and suffering. I waited through hunger and homelessness. I waited through sickness. I'm still waiting for all the words that he has spoken over my life to come to pass. Many have already come to pass, but there is a whole book yet be. I wait with patience in His holy presence, because I thrive and survive in Him.
My heart is not troubled. I believe in God. I am on my way to the place that he has prepared for me in this life and the one beyond. I didn't know the way to my spiritual Father's house through the hell I found myself lost in, no more than I knew the way to my natural father's house, but I found them both by sheer determination and faith. My natural father has since passed away, but my spiritual Father has wrapped me in His arms of protection and loving care. I feel safe in Him. I may not know all the twists and turns remaining in my life's journey, but I do know that God will be there, that He will never leave me nor forsake me.
I began to ask myself years later, why did that particular man come along at that particular time, a man who knew my father well enough to see him in my face. I concluded that my faith bought him to me because I was so determined to find my father, not truly understanding that I was putting myself in harms way, that God sent me help even though I didn't know Him as my Savior, yet He was my Savior nevertheless. He knew who I was way back then, and sent me the right help at the right time. God is amazing!