At IF:2016, God asked me if I was more afraid of man or Him. He called to mind that phrase, which I had read long ago on a bookmark. He asked me…if He called me to repent something out loud to someone else would I?
I said yes. And my “yes” was more powerful than I knew. My yes to repentance became a yes to freedom. I realized it then. There is nothing shameful about confessing our sin to God. It confesses our need for Jesus. Oh, I had known it was sin. I tried to change it on my own so I could come to God unashamed. I couldn’t. It turns out, all God really wanted, though, was for me to come to Him to be changed.
Do you know what I love about IF? It’s filled with women who are changed by their honesty to God (not just to their small groups)…and they’re not afraid to share the specifics. Something bold happens when people are specific with their story. You start to see that you’re just like them, and if God could do it for them, couldn’t he do it for you?
I read two to three books a night growing up. From my 8pm bedtime til 3 or 4 in the morning, I was turning pages. God knew my love language was books. He saved me through a bookstore. A bookstore that a church lost $30,000 on, but they started it because they knew God’s voice. I know what it is to have your soul bought for a price you cannot repay. It is a grace.
Because I went to that bookstore, I went to a church. There, I encountered a living God who speaks and loves for the first time. I spent huge portions of my paychecks on that little new and used Christian bookstore and books have played an unimaginable role in my own story. I even found out about IF:Gathering by Author Ann Voskamp.
God woos me through books still. He works through books still. There are new revelations and there are confirmations and there is the being NotAlone in my sin, in my experience, in my understanding, in my revelation.
I would have told you in OT school that I couldn’t have done the project that I completed had I been dating. The endless days of work were incompatible with dating. I would have told you that I would have traded that project in a second for a relationship.
I would have told you after my trips abroad that that’s one of the few perks of being single, and I decided to take advantage of it…but that I would have traded all that in a second for babies.
I would have traded jobs and poems and, yes…I think I would have even traded my call to lean into writing for a relationship. Which basically means I would have traded God for a relationship. Which basically means that God had to wait for 28 years for me to say, “no, God. I wouldn’t trade your call for a relationship. I wouldn’t trade the plans I have for the plans you have. I’m sorry that I’m so slow to learn that being a part of your story will always be worth it.”
Now, if I started dating, one of my early questions would be “Do you believe that there’s a specific call that God has on your life?” And I would desire that a man would ask me that, too. If things were headed towards marriage, I would want to know how I can support him in his calling and development of his giftings. I am believing that God would send me someone who would do the same for me. Mutual sacrifice. Mutual submission to Jesus to be parents leading a family on mission.
Lately, God has been prompting me to pray bigger. Stop limiting Him with my belief that He’ll do a couple small things, and believe instead that He wants me to ask for Him to do big things. He keeps saying the same thing to me that He said in October (God’s heart in creating you). Maybe you can thank [me] for strength, because [I’m tell] you the secret. Men are not the only ones called to dream big dreams.
Right as I started dreaming these dreams, I started feeling the stirring of fear. Would my character be strong enough to withstand all the criticism or all the praise? Would I get so busy that I stopped fixing my eyes on Jesus? Would I become prideful again? Would I start doing it for praise? Would Jesus really use someone who sometimes feels so broken-hearted?
I have just started reading Rebekah Lyon’s book, You Are Free: Be who you already are. Normally I gobble books, but this one has me savoring and chewing slowly. It is the tool that God is using this time to speak to me.
One day I confessed,
Jesus, I am afraid to press into my calling.
I feel ill-equipped on my best days and like an emotional train wreck on my worst.
I’m afraid I won’t have what it takes to carry things out, or I’ll shrink back and avoid what is difficult.
Help me know which assignments are from you and not just thoughts spinning in my head. Don’t let me run ahead of your lead.
Please make it simple and plain.
In his graciousness, God gently responded: Don’t you see. I didn’t choose the wrong girl. I’ve had grace planned for you all along.
And we look up from our nonfat soy chai lattes while we scroll through Instagram, counting the number of hearts on a post, and we say, “Who, me?”
Yes. Yes, you.
You who raise your voice with your kids.
You who are addicted to social media.
You who “retail” your way out of depression.
You who question whether or not you have any real friends.
You who aren’t certain your life really matters.
You with your insecurity, your brokenness, your anxiety, your desperation.
You are the light of the world.
You are the salt of the earth.
You are the city on a hill that cannot be hidden
Dare you believe it?
I’ve also felt a strong stirring to not depend on the local church for my understanding of or experience of the Holy Spirit.
I’ve received a dramatic, scientifically unexplainable healing from God. God has also used me to pray for two patients to receive dramatic, scientifically unexplainable healings from God. Do you know that there are more people inside the church that don’t believe in my testimony than those outside of the church? But if they don’t know the Holy Spirit, how could I fault them.
I could tell you crazy stories of God’s leading in the hospital the last 6 months. His presence has been dense in the hospital rooms where I’ve prayed people through their 11th hour or through their darkness. We’ve prayed through fear and we’ve prayed for guidance. But I feel God calling me to more. I feel Him calling me to begin asking Him, when the spirit leads, for healing again, and believing Him for it. Guess what Rebekah talks about?
One Thursday while praying out loud, I paused mid-sentence and said something out of the ordinary.
“I sense that I’m supposed to ask for the spiritual gift of healing.”
Woah, I thought. Did that just come out of my mouth? My own words surprised me. I’d never felt prompted to specific action right in the middle of prayer. Of all things, a prayer for the gift of healing isn’t high on the list unless you want to be criticized or ostracized. But it kind of made sense. I’d encountered many stories of suffering in my travels, and I was often left unsure how to best respond. Maybe this was a way God wanted to use me. I felt a pull to surrender.
I knelt down and simply obeyed without overthinking it, praying, “Jesus, you tell us to ask for more of the Spirit, so here goes. I’m asking you from the gift of healing if you want me to have it.”
“We’re not responsible for the healing but we’re responsible for the asking” -@ The Well
Rebekah struggled with panic disorder. She documents God’s victorious rescue from it in Freefall to fly: A breathtaking journey towards a life of meaning. She observes in You Are Free:
This wasn’t my story of struggle; it was his story of rescue
I’m only three or four chapters in. God, in His loving-kindness, gifted me with this book five days before its release date (today), as some employee of Barnes and Noble unwittingly stocked the shelves with it early. I highly recommend it.