Finding God …
When the Unthinkable Happens
What does it mean to have an intimate relationship with Christ? Does it mean studying the Bible and developing a deep understanding of scripture, possibly one similar to a biblical scholar? Or is an intimate relationship more personal, one that involves meditation, honesty and prayer from the heart?
Certainly, there is no right or wrong answer as most Christians would agree intimacy happens whenever an action draws you closer to Jesus.
But for one Baton Rouge woman, it took the action of another — the unthinkable and horrendous action of a perfect stranger — to remind her that God is always near and his love is far deeper than ever imagined.
In the late 1990s, Staci Polozola was the victim of a violent crime. She was kidnapped and taken at gunpoint to another state. The ordeal lasted 18 hours yet somehow in those hours, “God’s grace was all over me,” she said.
“I still remember the exact spot on the interstate where I made the decision to make peace with what was happening,” she said, explaining that in her fear, she sought refuge with the only one she knew could help. But as her eyes and heart looked to heaven, her deepest desire wasn’t personal. Instead, the story of the Cross flooded her mind, and as she reflected on Christ’s Passion, she began to see her situation differently.
“I said to God, ‘Father, forgive this man,’ and almost immediately, I felt this calmness come over me,” she said. As she began to “let go” and experience an incredibly intimate and overwhelming sense of God’s love, her feelings of fear and anxiety were removed, she said. “By surrendering, I was able to trust God completely. In that instant, I knew everything was going to be okay.”
Prior to her ordeal, Polozola said she believed in God and always had a faith, but she was focused on getting by on her own. “It was all about me at that time,” she said, explaining that by allowing and accepting God’s plan for her life, even during such an intense and terrified moment, she was able to endure.
And there were other benefits. By trusting God and keeping her high levels of fear and anxiety in check, Polozola was ultimately able to break free from her kidnapper, who was later arrested, convicted and sentenced.
Polozola believes that with God’s grace, she has been able to move forward, but she continues to seek and experience a deep relationship with God through personal prayer and works of faith, which include volunteering in prison ministry.
She said some people who know her story are surprised that she can help those imprisoned, but Polozola understands not only the value of every life, but also the value of releasing bitterness and learning to forgive. “Some people hold on to hate, even with things less tragic, yet it drains the life out of you. You can’t live with that,” she said, offering encouragement for anyone wanting to develop an intimate relationship with Christ.
“It begins by making a conscious decision,” she said. “Every day, it’s a decision you make when you say, ‘I’m going to trust in God, and I want to improve my relationship with him.’”