They say God can make a way, even when there seems be no way, or hope, or direction. Where there once was only fear, anger, separation, and brokenness, meet Ana Gonzalez. ◊
A young girl growing up in northern California experiences a family broken apart by divorce caused by strife arising from a sibling’s tragic death, and then an angry step-father who abuses and terrorizes the family.
This once happy child turns angry and wayward as she is but collateral damage forced to make her way as a capable but lost teen. She rediscovers a transforming Christian faith centered on Jesus, and wholeheartedly challenges God to make Himself real to her.
In God-only ways, He does show up as she maneuvers awkwardly through the elite halls and corridors of leading high-tech Silicon Valley companies. Starting as a receptionist, she emerges as a top business producer and eventually launches her own recruiting and staff company working for some of the largest companies in the world.
I recently met Ana Gonzalez through Connect Silicon Valley, a non-profit Christian organization formerly known as the Silicon Valley Prayer Breakfast. Today, in various venues, Connect.SV brings together thousands of people of all faith backgrounds to connect around shared conversations and stories at the intersection of faith and life.
What struck me about Ana’s upbringing was the parallels that unfortunately exist in similar homes around the world. Even healthy God-believing homes of good people with good intentions get stressed to points of breaking under sad circumstances. Opportunities for sin and destructive behavior occur in all human environments. Relationships can come undone as do finances and the emotional and spiritual well-being of impacted children.
The implications have far-reaching effect.
In Ana’s case, she rebelled. Yet her trials fortunately led her to a new perspective on Christianity. A trusted teenage friend invited her to pursue further exposure to Jesus, a standard object of her childhood faith who was hardly more than an object of faith.
Certainly nothing personal. Certainly no one she could engage with and know like an intimate friend through the power of the Spirit of God. Or so she thought.
But by this point in Ana’s life, she was not interested in any half-way religious activity. “Religion” to her is what “religion” is to me – simply man’s attempt to reach God. It is false and empty. The real deal is grasping understanding of God’s attempt to reach man; namely, through the human incarnation (Latin: “in the flesh”) of God through the birth, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus.
Ana’s prayer and call out to God/Jesus was “If you are real and I’m going to dedicate my whole life to You, you have to show yourself to me!”
And that’s what happened.
Wholehearted conviction and commitment led to Ana surrendering her whole life and world to this Jesus of the Bible that she grew to love. While her job and career developed, in parallel, her life of faith and devotion to God developed as well.
2 Proof Points
Ana’s story had two dramatic incidents of God’s manifestation in her life that cemented her faith in God:
- “You Are Genuine” – One night she cried out to God in a prayer asking that she would be authentic and genuine in her faith – the real deal, true, not fake or false. “Please, don’t allow me to be fake like a Pharisee” she prayed. A few days later, a woman known to her only as a deeply praying woman came up to her and simply said, “Ana, the Lord says you are genuine.” To Ana, it was a holy validation of her heartfelt but secret desire.
- “I Was With You Last Night” – On another occasion, she acted out washing Jesus’ feet with her hair in the privacy of her own small room with her small children. On her knees with tears she pictured Jesus before her, like the woman in the Bible who was so touched by the love of God she washed His feet with her hair (see Luke 7:36-50). Ana says she literally took her hair and washed His feet as she cried to Him and pictured Him before her. She was at church shortly after that and someone prayed over her and said “Ana, the Lord says I was with you last night as you washed My feet with your hair.”
How did they know?! Ana was struck by the direct answer to her past prayer for God to reveal and show Himself to her. She now knew that God is serious business and truly loves His children who come to Him in humble faith without pretense. These faith milestones have become great signs and symbols to Ana of God’s love and attention to the details of our lives.
Ana’s story is emotional and moving. Actually, though, all of our lives are stories that, if told, are emotional and moving. When we allow ourselves to be honest and vulnerable with our lives before God, whether we know Him personally or not, we can all break down in tears of pain, shame, guilt, and brokenness. These are nothing but old strongholds that crumble in the arms of a loving Father who knows us, understands, us, and wants nothing more than for us to return to Him and His love, without condemnation, to truly restart a life of purpose, peace, and fullness.
Do you believe that God can make a way in your life?
For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9