We like answers. We need to make sense of things. We like tidy explanations, reasonable timelines and unlimited resources. We don’t like delays or inconvenience or disappointment. And if I can be candid, Western Christianity can be perceived as entitled, narcissistic and fickle.
That’s the hard bit.
The heart bit?
God longs for us!
He desires us–He desires our love.
He is saying to us what He was saying to Jerusalem as He wept over her:
“O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the city that kills the prophets and stones God’s messengers! How often I have wanted to gather your children together as a hen protects her chicks beneath her wings, but you wouldn’t let me.”
So when I was asked to share the things God had been placing on my heart, I felt a willing reluctance. What I had to say felt too much like a reprimand that I had no right to deliver. So I meandered for two weeks down rosier paths trying to collect a pleasing bouquet. In the end I agreed to let God use me, come what may.
We assembled that Friday night in a state of expectancy but without the burden of over-expectation or the knowledge of each other’s history, hurts or hangups. We gathered amid vulnerable greetings, jagged dreams and epic weariness. Five generations of sisterhood took seats and settled into the evening with smiles and unvoiced burdens resting in our laps like swollen wombs filled with the awkward combination of hope and disappointment.
The Holy Spirit was welcomed in prayer as the worship leader asked that the Presence of God would draw us into intimacy with Him and prepare our hearts to hear and finally, that He would be glorified in all that was said and done. Amen!
Presence of God.
My head tingled. Those were the only words I had in my mind when I arrived as their guest speaker. It wasn’t that I hadn’t prepared. The Lord knows how much I had prepared. And when two weeks of prep hadn’t yielded a satisfying package I had begun to wonder if my Yes, I’d love to! should have been an I’m sorry, I’m not available that night!
After a time of mingling we eased ourselves into the rich melodic chords that resonated from a lone acoustic guitar. We lent our unrehearsed voices to God in heartfelt worship. We lingered. There was no rush to get through the set, no digital numbers pushing us through to the next segment. There was no platform, no performer and no push to keep a tight schedule. As the last note settled into silence I felt breathless in The Presence. (That’s what I’ve been calling the Holy Spirit lately!)
And then all eyes were on me.
Those who gathered waited for something worthwhile, I’m guessing, to come out of my mouth–something that might fuel hope. I had been praying for them, praying that each one would come away with just one something that they knew came from His heart to theirs. Yet I literally had no idea what was going to exit my mouth when my lips parted. I uttered another silent prayer of faith, fully trusting that God’s pre-emptive promise would not disappoint:
“Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and will teach you what you shall say.”
You see, things have been stirring in my heart. Unconventional things. Ideas that seem abstract and countercultural. I’ve spent much of my life orienting to the norm and the status quo because my lack of identity and my sense of wellbeing depended upon it. When these inklings and ideas began percolating in my soul, I batted them away in deference to insecure conformance. Who was I to speak for God?
I opened up with the Cliff Notes of my testimony. They deserved to know a little about the woman they had come to hear. I shared what brought me, after decades of self-assisted Christianity, to the absolute end of myself. I shared the arduous shame-journey that depleted me of all self and ushered in a revelation of His love. The familiar I once was blind but now I see had become I once was caught in deceptive self-loathing but now I know His love.
After I had talked about the person of the Holy Spirit and the role He desires to fill in our lives,
after I shared that there is absolutely no substitute for intimacy with God,
after I talked about the overlooked need for Jesus-modeled solitude in our daily lives,
after I shared some of the ways Jesus’ life demonstrated an organic relationship/ministry model to follow,
after I urged us to take a look at the idolatrous photo filters we have placed over our lacluster lives,
after I expressed the ways we embrace friendship with the world and enmity with God,
after I talked about spectatorship assembly and Church, Inc.
after I urged consideration of the many distractions that keep our attention divided and our devotion diminished,
after I had challenged an examination of our worship, and
after I observed how so many of us have unwittingly substituted time in the bible for a quick read in Jesus Calling–I closed me lips and looked into the penetrating eyes of the women who gathered to sit with God.
And then the conversation that I had come to begin had indeed begun.
Thank you for reading today! Please take a moment to share your thoughts. And do, please, feel free to share Grace Grips with your friends!