May was thin, graceful Chinese freshman who lived in our dorm and was my friend. After a couple of months, she started having severe headaches. After flying to her aunt’s house in the states, my beautiful friend died of a brain aneurysm.

Her death hit me hard. She was my same age and a Christian. One day she was alive. The next day, she was gone but where did she go? And where would I go when I died? Was there a heaven? If so, how did I know for sure I’d go there when I died?

I lay awake at night watching the flames rise in the gas heater in my dorm room. They reminded me of everything I had been told about hell. I didn’t dare go to sleep. I could believe ardently in hell, but heaven seemed to be more of a leap of faith than I could make.

At the age of seven, I had accepted Christ as my Savior mainly to avoid those dreaded flames. What I wanted was hard and fast evidence that when I died, I’d go to heaven. I know there’s a moon because a man walked on it and brought back a moon rock, but how did I know for sure there was heaven?

I didn’t want Bible verses. I wanted real, solid, hold-in-my-hands evidence. No one on my Christian college campus could give me what I needed

Is Heaven Real?

I wanted and needed answers. So, the minute I got home for Thanksgiving break, I sat down with my dad and said, “Can you give me tangible, irrefutable proof that there is a heaven?” Instead of giving me an instant pat answer, he thought before speaking.

“I know what you want,” he said, “but I can’t give you the evidence you can hold in your hand. Some claim they have gone to heaven and have come back but that’s just their word. It’s not provable because it can’t be validated. I can’t travel there and prove heaven exists and come back here and tell you.”

He held up his worn Bible and said, “I choose to believe the words of this book. If when I die there is not a heaven, I will have at least lived my life for a purpose greater than me. It’s a decision that’s much more than just being saved from the flames of hell.”

He took my hand, looked me in the eyes and said, “Trust in Jesus. Surrender completely to Him and He will never fail you.” Before that minute, I didn’t realize I had a trust issue, but right then I realized I did. I had resisted surrendering completely to Jesus on the slim chance there wasn’t a heaven. His words were what I was looking for.

Leap of Faith

Recently I was reminded of Dad’s admonition when I heard the explanation that strongholds are what we trust instead of trusting in God. Back in college, I had been afraid to put all my eggs in God’s basket. As such, I was pretty much going crazy because I didn’t know what or who to trust. I didn’t want to trust in the world or myself. Still, it took a huge leap of faith for me to finally put my entire life and future in God’s hands.

God doesn’t want to be at the top of my list, He wants to be my list period. Nothing should exist on my to-do list unless it goes through the filter of what Jesus wants for my life. I shouldn’t be the director and orchestrator of my life. I have surrendered those positions to Jesus.

It’s a faith issue. It’s a trust issue. It’s a total surrender issue.          

Changing My Lifestyle

When God convicted me of my issue with food one of the first lies I had to dispel was that I am fat and will always be fat, I can never lose weight, even God can’t help me lose weight, and all the others I had believed that had become strongholds in my life. Then I had to accept and believe God’s truth. Doing that changed me and in the process I lost over 250 pounds.

It wasn’t easy. It wasn’t quick. It was a total lifestyle change. I am different only because I have learned to take that leap of faith and trust Jesus with every part of me.

There are always challenges when we live changed lives. Paul talks about it in this pivotal scripture, 2 Corinthians 10:5 NIV. “We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.”

To live changed lives, we must change our thinking. Incorrect thinking empowers the enemy. It leads us to think we can handle things better than God. All that does is delay the time when God can work on our problem. When we’re in the way, God stays out of the way. We must take command over those lies and tell the devil, “This lie stops here.”

God Is Our Stronghold

The book of Nahum tells us, “The Lord is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; And He knows those who trust in Him,” Nahum 1:7-8 NKJV.  We definitely want God to be our stronghold. We do that by trusting only in Him and not in anything else.

I’m so glad Dad helped me place all my trust in Jesus. As Philippians 4:7 says, I have the peace of God which surpasses all understanding and is guarding my heart and mind in Christ Jesus. This peace goes beyond natural understanding. It is supernatural.

Don’t forget to join us in Overcomers Academy. Just go to https://Teresashieldsparker.com/overcomers/. Doors are open now.

May you trust in Jesus with everything that is within you. May you yield completely to the Holy Spirit to direct your every step. May you love and honor Father God as the one true God in everything you do. And may your surrender to Him be complete so that your destiny will be made plain and clear.

It’s a surrender issue. It’s a trust issue.

Teresa Shields Parker
Teresa Shields Parker is a Christian weight loss author, coach, podcaster and speaker, who has lost more than 250 pounds and kept it off since 2013.

Her books include: "Sweet Grace: How I Lost 250 Pounds and Stopped Trying to Earn God's Favor"; "Sweet Surrender: Breaking Strongholds"; "Sweet Journey to Transformation: Practical Steps to Lose Weight and Live Healthy"; "Sweet Freedom: Losing Weight and Keeping It Off With God's Help": "Sweet Change: True Stories of Transformation"; and "Sweet Hunger: Developing an Appetite for God".

She also offers Overcomers Christian Weight Loss Academy and VIP one-on-one coaching program, more information on both is available under the weight loss tab. Don't miss her weekly podcast, Sweet Grace for Your Journey, where she shares tips from her personal journey of losing weight and discovering healthy living. Find that under the podcast tab and anywhere you find podcasts.