by Robin Swaboda

      Have you ever wished you were talented in a way that your friends are? I have a friend who can knit the most beautiful sweaters. I knitted a sweater for my first child, which would have fit perfectly if he had been born A SNAKE! Nope-I can't knit or sew or paint. I don't even do crossword puzzles. They scare me. I think they're tests and as soon as I do one, my fifth grade teacher Miss Hendricks is going to come out of nowhere, grab it out of my hand, grade it and show it to my Mother. Nope-I don't do crossword puzzles either. I think God does though.

      Early in my Christian walk I heard the trials and tribulations we go through described as a tapestry. We only see the rough, ugly side here on earth but in heaven the Lord will show us the beautiful side of the tapestry as one event weaved into another. So, could the seemingly common events of our lives work together like a crossword puzzle.

      From the time I was eighteen it seemed I was destined to be in television. Doors were opened for me, which should have been opened for more qualified people. I moved up quickly from one of the smallest markets to one of the largest in just a few short years. I always thought it was because I worked cheap. Now I know it's because God was working His crossword puzzle.

      When I came to Cleveland in 1986, my career was my god. Television had given me everything I thought I ever wanted. A few years after coming to WJW, I started flying to New York once a week to tape a sports show with Ahmad Rashad. I bought a house, cars, jewelry and every gadget I could get my hands on. I had money and I had things but I didn't have peace. I wasn't really happy. In June of 1986, I was the cover story for Cleveland Magazine. The writer portrayed me as a new age spiritualist who simultaneously believed in God and reincarnation, Jesus and astrology. I guess I thought I needed to cover all the bases.

      God used that magazine article to draw me back to Him. Almost immediately after it hit the newsstands. I started receiving dozens of letters written by sincere and loving Believers in Christ who told me that they were praying for me to find the Way, the Truth and the Life. The love with which they wrote made me dust off my Bible and actually read it. It wasn't long before God led me to Isaiah 1:18&19 which reads, "Come now, let us argue this out," says the Lord. "No matter how deep the stain of your sins, I can remove it. I can make you as white as wool. If you will only obey me and let me help you, then you will have plenty (to eat)." It was then and there that I committed my life to Christ, asking Him to be number one in my life and to fill me up with what the world could not.

      Many things have happened since that summer day fifteen years ago. I now see that God has used all of them to get me where I am today, partnering with Connection Magazine. During my quiet time on July 4, 1998 I was asking the Lord whether I should go back into television. I had quit my anchor job at WJW seven months prior and was now being recruited to do the Morning Exchange on WEWS. My desire was to be home with my children but my husband was going back to school full time and the income would sure be welcomed. Once again, God led me to the book of Isaiah. This time it was Isaiah 43:18&19 which says, "Forget the former things; do not dwell on the past. See I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it? I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland." I took the job, which lasted about a year before they cancelled the show and put me on the 11 o'clock news. I lasted 14 months on that schedule before quitting this past November. I knew it was the Lord's prompting to quit, but I didn't know why.

      Jon Hanna, editor of Connection, approached me in December about working with him and the ministry. I'll admit I wasn't real receptive in the beginning but after I prayed about it, God started showing me His vision. Because I know personally of God's boundless grace and mercy, I hear Him maybe a little better than some. When I ask, He answers and usually in a mighty way. As I continued to take the matter to Him in prayer, He answered me in a most incredible dream. In this dream, I was standing in front of a large crowd of children. It was as ethnically diverse a crowd as I'd ever seen, so I assumed it was a school, though the crowd was very large. They began to sing our national anthem and as they did, adults of all races and ages joined them. Fireworks began to go off overhead and it was really quite spectacular. However, when the fireworks came back toward the ground they became bombs. I watched helplessly as these sweet children and adults were killed or maimed before my eyes. The scene turned to blood and body parts, screams pierced the air. Unable to move, I kept repeating, "I wish there was something I could do. I wish there was something I could do." When I woke up, I was still wishing there was something I could do to help those people. That's when God spoke to me and told me there was a way to help. "Those people in your dream are My people," God said. "You can help them by telling them the Good News of the Gospel. Tell them, 'The reward for sin is death, but the gift that God freely gives is everlasting life found in Christ Jesus our Lord.'" Romans 6:23

      Suddenly, the puzzle was beginning to fit. On July 4th, 1998 when God first gave me the scriptures from Isaiah 43, I thought it meant that I was to go back to work. Now I see that God really was doing something new. TV was not new, but He used that as the vehicle to get me where I am today, joining Him in the great Commission and taking the Gospel to a lost and hurting nation. TV was the platform that allowed people to get to know me. Now it's time to give back to the One who has given me so much.

      God is far from finished with His crossword puzzle that I call my life. I am not afraid though. I look forward to spreading His message of forgiven sins and eternal salvation to this great nation of ours. Who knows, maybe I'll even get to tell Miss Hendricks.