Hope Is My Anchor
The unwavering expectation that God will rescue me in the midst of my life’s storms began at birth. On January 3, 1953, I was born prematurely, weighing only 2lbs. After the doctor declared me dead, I was wrapped in newspaper in preparation for burial. Someone noticed a movement and realized I was very much alive. God saved me.
My grandmother, Lizzy Nicks, demonstrated her hope in God by feeding me a spoon of milk until I was able to eat food. My mother, Mae Neil Nicks, demonstrated hope by praying for my healing seven times when I was deathly ill. My mother and father, Pastor James A. Nicks, Sr., taught me that there is nothing impossible for God by helping me understand Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is the assurance (the confirmation, the title deed) of the things [we] hope for, being proof of the things [we] do not see and the conviction of their reality [faith perceiving as real fact what is not revealed to the senses.]” - The Amplified Bible. They demonstrated hope in Jesus everyday while raising me and my sixteen brothers and sisters.
In 1974, our senior year of college, I married my college sweetheart Mr. Jerry W. Riney Sr. after graduation in 1975, we move to St. Louis., join Union Tabernacle M.B. Church and we raised our children. Four angels were born to this union Jerry W. Jr. (deceased), Tamala Teneil (deceased), Christopher Allen and LaQuiana Monique. We divorced after fifteen years. I believed that the God who saved me at birth would see me through this divorce– and He did. I continued to work at Washington University, where I’ve worked for 41 years. Sometimes I worked two jobs but I always paid my tithes because my trust and faith was in Jesus to see us through. The lights, water, and gas were never turned off and the house and car notes were always paid. I can say like David in Psalm 37:25, “I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread” (New International Version). Hope in Jesus was my stabilizer.
Ten years after my divorce, I married the priest of my life, Deacon Al B. Burroughs III on April 14, 2001. When you wait on God for a husband, He’ll send you just what you need. I now embrace his two children, Al B. Burroughs IV and Alexa B. Burroughs, as my own. Life seemed to be sailing smoothly until at 5:30 pm on July 26, 2007. While still at work, I received a phone call from my daughter and all I heard was “He’s gone, mommy. JJ is not breathing.” Drowning in a sea of emotions, I kept saying this can’t be true. I arrived at his apartment to discover that my first born, my Jerry, at age 33 had indeed gone home to be with the Lord. I needed a life line. As I prepared for his homegoing services, The Holy Spirit spoke to me the order of the service: I was to eulogize him; the sermon was to be “On the Returned Flight What’s your Destination?” and the invitation to Christ was to be extended. As a result, forty people came to the altar for a life style change: some to be saved, some to be delivered. Once again the God of my salvation delivered me in the midst of my life’s storm. Psalm 146:5 “Blessed is he whose hope is in the Lord his God, the Maker of Heaven and Earth, the sea and everything in them”.
The storms of unexpected death kept coming to my immediately family. My sister Rose Mary Nicks Johnson went home to be with the Lord on February 9, 2010. My sister Apostle Margaret Nicks McGhee went home to be with the Lord on July 26, 2012. We enjoyed a week of vacation together in preparation for her son’s wedding. The wedding was beautiful. I returned home and received a call that her daughter could not wake her up. The shock was severe. I was asked to do her eulogy. How would I have the strength to stay strong for her husband, daughter and son who were depending on me? Difficult times tempts us to question “Why did this happen?” But if we’re trusting in Jesus we never need to ask, “How could He let this happen?”, He may not reveal all His reasons to me, but He has revealed His character to me which assures me He never makes mistakes, is never uncaring and He never separates himself from our need.
I am now 64 years old. I am thankful for a grandmother and parents who taught me and my siblings that Jesus is our HOPE. I understand that my present situation is not my final destination. God has more.