I’ve been hanging out with Kari Jobe a lot over the past couple weeks, only she doesn’t know it. I went to worship with her on Thursday, and in preparation for that I listened to her last album. A lot. Loudly. Kari’s music and style of worship makes me want to truly worship God, not worship the experience of worshipping God. It’s easy to get caught up in the bright lights and beautiful people and the contagion of other people’s love for God. I just had to block that out, close my eyes, and worship HIM.
I felt Jesus’ presence palpably, as if He came up behind me and put His arms around me. I could feel His face, His breath on my shoulder, His robes brushing my legs and feet. He came in front of me and looked me in the eyes, smiling. And here’s what He said to me: “Thank you for coming. Thank you for meeting Me here tonight.” Here’s what I, being such a holy woman, said back to Jesus: “You’re the only One Who doesn’t piss me off.” I am DEEP, people, DEEP.
Do you ever feel that way? Being a human is hard sometimes. Try as I might to love deeply, people piss me off. And I do the same to other people!
Here’s another thought that came to me that evening: no posturing. I don’t want to have to be a certain way. I want to be in Him. Just be. Let go of self-assessment, self-consciousness. Let go of self and just be in His presence. No need for thoughts or words or analysis. He can teach me what He wants me to know wordlessly. I just have to rest in Him and it will happen. Quit working so hard for what’s already been done. No striving for understanding. Just listen with the heart. It’s all right there.
One last nugget from my evening with Kari Jobe…I want to be spent by Jesus. I want Him to use me up so that on my last day there is nothing left but the shriveled up remains of my self…a shell of me that was used in the service of God and His people. Use me, mold me, shape me, Lord. SPEND me for Your glory.
Last Saturday I was driving down the road, heading home from the grocery store, listening to “My Lighthouse” by Rend Collective Experiment. I was jamming out like a Mom…you know, banging on the steering wheel and clapping my hands, displaying behaviors that mortify my adult children. I was basking in His love for me and for all of us. I was still living in the afterglow of the healing I’d witnessed earlier in the week. My friend and my daughter both invited me into their pain and vulnerability and allowed me to pray with them. What unfolded is nothing short of miraculous. I was reminded that Jesus heals. When we face our fears and take one step toward Him, Jesus takes ten giant steps toward us. He’s right there with open arms and an open smile, ready to heal our open hearts. It takes courage for us humans to feel the pain that propels us toward Jesus, but the risk is always worth it. Always. He gives us more than we could ever imagine. All we want is for the pain to stop. And He does that. But He also shows us the truth of who we are in Him. He gives us a new name and a new identity that we can hold onto in a tangible way. He removes the pain and fills us to overflowing with His goodness. While praying with my friend on Monday and my daughter on Friday, I was awed by how intimately He knows them (and each one of us). Jesus spoke to those girls in a way that must have left no doubt in their minds about His love for them. He truly knows everything about them and therefore, approached them in a way that spoke miracles.
Back to me, driving along…I was riding behind a dump truck that was open on top, brimming with imagined rocks just waiting to fall out, bounce off the road and hit my windshield. I’d seen his kind before and my windshield bore the scars and cracks. I didn’t want to get yet another rock hole, so I was keeping my distance. But it was annoying to ride just a little under the speed limit and I didn’t want to speed up enough to pass him on the two-lane highway. Mind you, these thoughts were only semi-conscious because I was jamming out to Rend Collective Experiment, foot-stomping and steering wheel slapping, singing loudly for God to hear. And then this thought came to me: “It’s already broken. My windshield already has multiple cracks in it.” I felt relief. The kind of relief that says, “Bring it on, big rock-filled dump truck! Whatcha gonna do to me?”
Then God gave me this thought: “I’M ALREADY BROKEN.” I have been bumped and bruised and cracked by life. And guess what? God has used all of it. He doesn’t allow me to feel pain and just leave me there. He gives me opportunities to offer my pain to Him, be healed, and He propels me forward to point others toward Him. So here’s where that leaves me: There’s nothing to fear. NO THING to fear. I’ve learned that I can do hard, and I can do painful because God always always redeems it. That redemption may not come in my timing, but it always comes in His perfect timing.
Are more hard times coming my way? Yep. Will I resist them? Yep. Will I want to run away to avoid the pain, and keep my distance from God the way I kept my distance from that dump truck? Yep. And yet God is there, knowing my tendency to run from Him instead of to Him. He’s not even mad at me about it. He waits patiently until I remember My First Love and fall into His arms. He heals me, refreshes me, and makes me new. I have nothing to fear but the fear of returning to Him.