"When my heart is overwhelmed, lead me to a rock that is higher than I." - Psalm 61:2
I woke up this morning, so un-enthused about church. It was early and hard getting out of bed, I almost didn’t want to get out of it. Why not just skip the early service to go right into my volunteer duty at 11? I remembered that I want to start making a change in my life, prioritizing God’s presence, and I weighed the consequences of not going. I’ve put duty before cultivating relationship with Jesus and it was not pretty. Life sucks without God’s presence- once you’ve walked in it. So just remembering that outweighed me comforts of sleeping in.
So I got to church, felt a tug to sit in the back row on a certain side where I met a young girl, alone like me, who I was able to share a warm welcome to. That was nice.
During worship, I felt the presence of God just heavier then normal. I was caught off guard to the point where I had to wonder if it was because of all the prayers, anticipation, and expectation centered around on this day, as my church was excited about Easter- particularly the leaders. I however came in with barely any expectation, or anticipation, so thus I cried and fell into worship without knowing exactly what was going on.
Then the message began. My eyes grew big as I listened to the timing of God with the specific words He gave my pastor to preach on, this Easter Sunday. My pastor focused on the word “hope” like no one’s business… and the reality of how Jesus meets you where you are… not knowing how depressed I’ve been getting these past months nor hearing the fleeting prayer I felt made to pray 2 days ago for Jesus to meet us where we are.
At the end we stood up and he prayed for everyone, and right as I stood up I felt a tangible warmth surrounding me… like God was calling me to trust Him. Then I prayed and all strength left my knees in His presence. Though my pastor called for everyone who needed to hear this sermon to come to the front, I was crouched over my chair praying and thanking God. Then my pastor spoke very, very specific words that cut straight to the back row into my heart. Words that echoed a simple text my heart-broken friend sent me with his feelings about his guitar instructor who committed suicide. “You are of value, you are of worth, don’t believe the lies of the enemy. Don’t believe his lies. You have a future.”
Man, once these words hit me like a wave I let go and cried to the point of needing paper towels more then tissues… and then right after we were dismissed, I made a beeline to the bathroom only to have my cool/hip youth pastor stop me to say hello. Ha, I hope I didn’t scar him with my makeup-melted face.
But it was the same youth pastor God really zoned my heart on to go talk to make plans on serving this summer once again at a camp, later that very morning. I wasn’t going to again this year, just cause of my summer workload. But my months of saying “no” to him, in a moment, turned into a “yes.” Like a lasso, my heart did a 180 and yeah, since God was able to take the time out to come down to earth- I can surely take a week out of my summer agenda to hang with some kids.
Throughout scripture we see God using imperfect people for the sake of his mission. I never quite understood why Jesus chose the individuals he did, but I am guessing his reasoning was to further prove the validity of his being.
If you ever feel like you aren’t worthy enough, remember that Jesus used a bunch of flawed people to share Hope to a flawed world. In HIM we find renewal and mending. Jesus didn’t call the equipped, He equipped the called. And no matter what you’ve been through in life, remember that the same power that conquered the grave lives within you.
- Francis Chan (Crazy Love)
Today I’ve been thinking about the time I got radically turned on and inspired by rock n roll… for some reason. It was elixir to my 6th grade ears that were burned out by the regurgitated pop music on the radio at that time. I was in the back of a limo with a souped up sound system being picked up from school with a group of friends on the way to a birthday party. Somehow someway, one of the older girls hijacked the sound system and blasted her favorite songs. Among her favorites was AC/DC’s Back in Black.
That song was electrifying. It was less then a minute into it before I took someone’s pen and scribbled what lyrics I could make out onto my palms so when I get home, I could look it up. This was clearly a moment Shazam was created for.
That was the first time I heard the power of mere instruments without embellishing synths. Angus Young’s guitar cut through the stagnant air locked up inside that limo. All I heard on the radio up to that day was Kanye West and Brittney Spears- I had no IDEA what music sounded like before this decade. Alll this time junk was being played on the radio, there was this good stuff (or what I thought to be good at the time) behind it all. I felt like I finally found a strong part of my identity, because I was never able to lock into soulfully with the pop music on the scene during that time. It was all fake compared to these self-made rock n roll bands of the 70s and 80s.
Just as there was a large difference between generational music between my ears, there is a large difference to me between generational ministry from the original birth of Pentecost to today. If you look in scripture to the firey, persecuted Christians who were so inspired and filled by God centuries ago compared to today, it’s culturally abnormal. Can Christians today even identify with that experience? That authenticity was what strikes me as exciting- and it was authenticity that lit the fire of my new life through Jesus. Despite having grown up in church, hearing the same lines over and over, it took testimony’s of people whose messed up lives were changed inside and out by Jesus to grab my dull ears.
The nature of Jesus was most clearly revealed to me through sinner’s transformed lives. I thought Jesus was way more mainstream, “candy,” and popular before really getting to know Him. He actually desires getting into the dirt of people’s lives, ready and wanting to reach them wherever they’re at.
When we decide to show our scars & speak for the authentic,pure, abnormal excitement of the gospel- the covers of love and truth will be blown off. Let’s let people hear the cutting gospel, stripped of all the icing and embellishments.
- The Cross and the Switchblade by David Wilkerson
In Brennan Manning’s book Ruthless Trust, he tells the story of the brilliant ethicist John Kavanaugh who went to work for three months at “the house of the dying” in Calcutta. He was seeking a clear answer as to how best to spend the rest of his life. On the first morning there he met Mother Teresa who asked, “And what can I do for you?” Kavanaugh asked her to pray for him. “What do you want me to pray for?” she asked. He voiced the request that he had borne thousands of miles from the United States: “Pray that I have clarity.” She said firmly, “No, I will not do that.” When he asked her why, she said, “Clarity is the last thing you are cling- ing to and must let go of.” When Kavanaugh commented that she always seemed to have the clarity he longed for, she laughed and said, “I have never had clarity; what I have always had is trust. So I will pray that you trust God.”