As I reflect on the changes that have occurred in my life since I came into this season of prayer I find myself weeping out of gratitude and amazement. I could never have imagined all that has happened and I find it hard to give it language. The woman here today is not the person that said “yes, Lord” ten months ago. God has been busy.
I won’t lie. This has not always been a fun season of life. I’ve never cried so much, nor felt so lonely, nor felt so much like my very life was being sucked out of me with each passing moment in prayer. I know that sounds negative, but it is truth. I should have anticipated a breaking of sorts and the Lord knows I needed it but I didn’t understand the entirety of what I signed up for.
I came to the prayer room thinking I had it somewhat together. I came healed of extreme fears. After years of having none, I came with lots of friends. I thrived on knowing and being known. God had healed me and given me what I thought was the desire of my heart but then God asked me if I loved Him enough to give it all back and allow Him to show me true desire. In asking me into the prayer room, He took me out of the excitement and comfort of the social bonding that happened for me in the sanctuary setting and that had honestly become a distraction to my worship.
Clearly God was not impressed by my need for many friends. During these months, He has wanted me mostly to Himself. God has shown me where I created idols out of friendships and leadership. One by one false idols have been stripped away and I found myself in a place that was lonely and barren. It was there though that God showed me that my greatest issue was that I still had a deep fear of rejection by Him and that I had incredible animosity against Him. I didn’t really trust God. Actually most things I struggle with have roots in this distrust. Is God really who He says He is? Will He really do everything He has promised? Can He really restore, even what has died? Can I really give Him my whole life? That God loves me enough to ask me to change has transformed my life. God has proven faithful time and again to encourage me, answer my many questions and to show me how much He really likes the ME that He created.
In saying yes…I signed up for a life that is different and wholly other than what the world thinks of as a successful life. I didn’t know that my life would be “ruined.” I didn’t know that I would have, for the remainder of my days, an unsatisfied ache. I didn’t know that I was preparing for the last days and the return of my Savior (which was one of my biggest shocks). I didn’t know that to say yes meant that I could be blessed with the deeper things of God during this life and the one to come and to say no and lock myself behind my safe religious traditions meant risking my heart growing cold to those deeper things. (Not that I would be separated from God’s love but that I would close the door to greater awakening and deeper revelations that He has prepared for me. I don’t know about you but I want the deep…same old, same old doesn’t work anymore.) I didn’t know that this radical, fasted lifestyle would sometimes be messy; that it meant eating less, spending less, sleeping less so I could get up or stay up for prayer. I didn’t realize that my pursuits would disrupt the lives of those around me. I didn’t know that some would be so offended by my prayer life and or that they might think I had gone crazy. That my credibility would be challenged. Jesus said that we would be reviled because He was reviled but in return we would have what can’t be taken away…I didn’t understand what couldn’t be taken away was knowledge of this beautiful Man. I didn’t know that it would be possible to walk in power and authority or that even the smallest efforts of giving, fasting and praying could unlock my heart. I didn’t know that the cost would be great but the reward far, far greater.
Here I go weeping again…
It has been hard to give adequate language to everything I feel but it boils down to this…I have fallen in love with Jesus Christ and He’s bid me come and die so that I may actually live. I said yes and embarked on a journey to spend eternity experiencing Him and His love and seeking out a comprehension of God and His Glory. What can be greater?
What do you say when God asks to take you to a place of death to self only to realize that what will rise from the ashes is a hunger that can never be satisfied by anything less than the presence of the Lord? What if He asks you to persevere? What if He asks you, as He did me… “If you have to contend for the next twenty years before seeing your ministry fulfilled…will you still contend? Will you still go for it?” or, “If I send one hundred people into the prayer room next week, will you pray less?” Wow…like the disciples so long ago the words that came out of my own mouth put the last ten months into perspective, if just for me.… “This is who I am and it is all I know anymore.”
Even though I have often been in barren and lonely places, God has shown me that I am most definitely not alone. There are groups of hungry people coming together in this church and all over the world. They are people God has awakened and He is working in their hearts and lives. I find myself in an army on fire and desperate for the things of God and an army willing to pay the price to see it all come to pass. This is not something we invented. God gave this call and this desire and I believe He is calling each of us…He really is.