We’d only been climbing for an hour or so and I literally felt like I couldn’t go much further. It seemed like every hill I fought to get up would only give way to another one twice it’s size. We’d still had no glimpse of where we were actually going. I just wanted to know how close we were… how many more miles we had left to climb… how many more hundreds/thousands of feet I still had to battle up…
I didn’t know all I had gotten myself into… I did know that when we’d set off from the parking lot that morning to climb a mountain I still couldn’t see I felt a little fear and trepidation about the adventure.
It wasn’t until we’d mounted the hill I never thought I’d get up, and the landscape opened up in front of me, that it hit me. Sure, we had a very long way to go… yeah, that mountain in the distance with the snow on top was the one we were supposed to climb… true, we had to walk along an edge for an hour with a death fall on both sides… yes, my feet felt blistered and sore… But the question wouldn’t leave my mind and somehow it spurred me on—like somehow all the gusto I poured into climbing that mountain was a bit of an answer…
How high would I climb to fall into His embrace? How hard would I fight to see His face?
Maybe it’s fear that stops us. Fear of falling, fear of letting go of the idols that hinder us from loving Him…
I had to face a few of my own fears on that climb. I’ve never been a huge fan of heights… most of my nightmares end in falling off the top of some skyscraper and waking up seconds before I crumple on the concrete. But in climbing that mountain, we had to walk across an edge with a death fall on both sides. And though I had a few moments of panic, my mind was so set on the summit that I didn’t have time to let that fear consume me.
I wonder if part of the reason we don’t work through our fears is because we’ve gotten distracted and taken our eyes off the goal. We look around at all the things that might happen if we really throw ourselves into seeking Him… we look inside and see how messed up we are… and we shake with fear and say that there is no way. But just maybe, if we looked ahead to the moment when He’ll catch us in His giant arms and we’ll be able to gaze into His eyes, we’d be able to look up now and determine that we’ll be willing to do anything to reach that moment.
So often we let the mentality around us affect the way we live. We don’t throw every inch of ourselves into the pursuit of God. We tire of really seeking His face. We stop dreaming of really seeing Him because that day seems so far away. Honestly, we don’t want to expend the effort it takes to walk with Him like Enoch did. We’re not sure if we’re ready to abandon ourselves to Him that way.
But honestly, the only goal that is worth throwing every ounce of ourselves into is to be as close to Him as possible now-- and for all eternity.
We throw ourselves into our careers— studying for years for a degree that claims we know our field… we throw ourselves into sports and athletics for a medal that will last a few years and then mean nothing… we throw ourselves into making something out of our life here, but sooner or later that too will end. But for some reason, we don’t throw ourselves into seeking God, into fighting to see the face of our Jesus. As a friend once shared with me… We know we are to dig for the Treasure, but we move one shovelful and give up because we find nothing…
It’s no new thought… maybe we have to just go back a little and remember what we were instructed.
"Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith…”
There is nothing to say that we cannot walk with God now like Enoch did. And we have every reason to believe that if we fight for closeness with Him now, we will have it for all eternity. How can we be satisfied with anything less? How can stop short of doing whatever, and I mean whatever, it takes to see the face of our Jesus?
The real soldier willingly fights for freedom because He loves His country. The real Christian willingly fights for a relationship with the Omnipotent because they love their Jesus. It's not all about sitting and basking in His love. It makes the enemy mad to see heart who want to live life as close as possible to Jesus and he will do whatever he can to stop them. He attacks hardest what he knows is most precious. He's not about to let Jesus have the highest place in our hearts. He will suggest a million different "glossy" things to fill His place. If we want to spend each minute in His arms and one day see Him face to face we will have to fight hard. We will have to throw every ounce of ourselves into seeking Him.
But if we really love Him, we will count it all joy. We will want to fight because we cannot bear the thought of not being with Him.
We made it to the top of that mountain. I’m still amazed. And very very sore. But it was worth it.
And when we walk down those golden streets arm in arm with our Jesus, it will be worth it. Oh so worth it. Every ache and pain will be forgotten when we can lay our head on His shoulder and simply rest.
As we clambered down that mountain it seemed clearer to me than ever. No hight is too much to climb for Him. No fight too hard. No pain too much. Whatever it takes. Whatever.
How high would you climb to fall into His embrace? How hard would you fight to see His face?
Sometimes I wonder what it must be like for the Omnipotent God to look down at a world of hearts that are closed to Him…
David said it so profoundly…
“God looked down from heaven upon the children of men, to see if there were any that did understand, that did seek God. Every one of them is gone back… there is none that doeth good, no, not one.”
It’s heartbreaking. And it’s so far from all that God longs to give His children.
The last couple months have shown me a side of God’s heart I had never grasped before…
We’ve all heard a million times that God is personal and the One who will always be there for us and I’ve always believed and loved that thought. But somehow, it’s only been lately that I’ve more fully realized what that really means for me.
This God of ours is not some nebulas being who loves us but is somewhat distant from our lives. He is not merely a Master. His love is not some vague concept that we cannot feel.
The Jesus I serve passionately loves me with all His heart. The thought of loosing me is so hard for Him that He would rather come to earth and give His life than watch me slip away. He’s always there for me during the day to check in and see how I’m doing. He always has an encouraging word to speak when I’m down. When I fall, He picks me back up and holds my hand. All night long He watches me sleep, eagerly awaiting the moment I wake up, so we can be together again.
And I just can’t help myself falling in love with this Jesus. He is so tangible… so personal.
It’s not a matter of trying to want to spend time with Him. I just can’t wait for it.
Nothing in the world is as sweet as the time when I can leave behind all the distractions of my day and go out to my meadow below the ridge behind our house and just be with Him. It’s not an obligation now, it’s a privilege. I want to open my heart completely to this God. To tell Him absolutely everything about me. I want to give Him total access to the deepest corners of my heart.
I want Him to look down from heaven and find my heart open to Him… all day. Every day.
And I realize more and more that all He really wants is our hearts. I mean, everything is His. He owns all... except what He wants most-- the hearts of His children.
My heart burns to give Him more. I wish I had a thousand lives to lay on the altar for Him.
But nothing puts a bigger smile on His face than when we offer Him our little wounded, dirty, broken hearts.
And this whole thing about Christianity… it’s not about trying to do all the right things and be the good people. It’s about falling deeply in love with the Jesus who it’s all about.
Christianity is not merely a matter of the mind, but a matter of the heart.
And when we open our heart up to Him, He changes it, draws it close, and makes it like His. We may not feel any closer to Him today than we did yesterday, but we can know that though we may not see, He is working. One day it will all be clear, and we’ll marvel at a grace that is as far beyond our highest dreams as heaven is above earth.
This Jesus has had you in His heart for all eternity. And when the day came for you to be born, He had the biggest smile on His face that you can imagine. The day had finally come. From now on, He could lavish His love on you, and begin the journey of winning your heart.
And all through your life, He's been on that journey. Everyday He tries to show us in a hundred little ways how deep His love is. But so often we keep our heart closed and our face turned.
He's been running after us all our lives, trying to show that He loves with all His heart and that you are the most important thing to Him in the world.
Maybe it's time to just stop running from Him, and fall in His arms and live the rest of our lives in adoration for the God who wouldn't stop seeking us, even when we were ungrateful hard hearted wretches who thought we were fine on our own.
Because this Jesus? Life is a million times sweeter with Him.
*Photo credits-- Hannah Rayne
Miles pass under my feet, as I sit back in my comfortable (or not so much :)) plane seat and try to get the necessary sleep for the next few days. I'm never a very good sleeper on these red eye flights. And actually, I'm thankful for that. When the plane is dark and quiet and sleep evades, it's the perfect time for prayer.
I've felt my need of it in a special way of late. Something seems to drive me to my knees-- not as an obligation but as a necessity. And I realize more and more that it really is a necessity. Seriously.
Somehow we've had our eyes blinded to think we can live without it. And not just that... we've somehow come to think that there is a limit to the size of our requests. "Like I couldn't ask God to start a fire of revival that would sweep across the world, could I?" Why not?
I believe in a big God. One who speaks worlds into existence. I believe nothing is too big or too hard for Him. And if I really believe that... I won't be afraid to ask for big things.
Journal entry, April 30
Not for myself but for His cause... His children.
UKFC starts tommorrow... I'm praying for lives revolutionized. I'm praying for Him to start a fire in the hearts here that will not only change us, but that will be a witness to the onlooking universe and the world.
Behold, I am the LORD, the God of all flesh: is there any thing too hard for me? (Jeremiah 32:17)
I do believe in a big God.
Mile after mile pass outside the window as we drive. My mind still struggles to grasp the fact that another season of retreats is beginning. I'm excited. But I also feel a greater responsibility than ever before...
There's no time for playing Christianity. Who knows how many more years of retreats we have left? What if this year is the last? Will it just be another encouraging weekend with blessed fellowship, or will it be life changing? That's what I've been asking myself of late...
Because really, I believe in the One who is the ultimate Source of power. And if our faith is in Him, who says that miracles can't happen?
So often we relax our hold on that power, and leave the forces of evil unchallenged. Jim Elliot states it so well...
We are so utterly ordinary, so commonplace, while we profess to know a Power the Twentieth Century does not reckon with. But we are "harmless," and therefore unharmed. We are spiritual pacifists, non-militants, conscientious objectors in this battle-to-the-death with principalities and powers in high places. Meekness must be had for contact with men, but brass, outspoken boldness is required to take part in the comradeship of the Cross. We are "sideliners" -- coaching and criticizing the real wrestlers while content to sit by and leave the enemies of God unchallenged. The world cannot hate us, we are too much like its own. Oh that God would make us dangerous!
It's time for a change-- for action. Give us faith, Lord, that claims Your promises and acts on them. Let us taste Your power. Strengthen us to be a threat to the powers of darkness. Then we will see a year of miracles.
Just imagine with me what it's like to be God... I mean, really. Enter into the heart of it-- His heart. His is more than just a position of power.
You have invested your own flesh and blood in humanity, and you deeply love them. Your mind is filled with ways to bring them happiness. You are constantly planning good gifts to give them. You have their good in mind, in all you do. You forever look for ways to express your love to them. They are the apple of your eye, and your life is bound up with theirs.
But they seem not to notice you. They are consumed with their little this and that. They go through a day, sometimes without even acknowledging your existence. Sometimes they do better and say a few words to you in the morning, but that's all. Or they come to you with their list of things they want done, and when you answer their prayers, they mutter a hasty thanks, or none at all. And if you don't answer their prayers right away because you know better, they complain that you don't hear, or care. Their eyes are focused on all they don't have, and they miss the multiple gifts you give them each day. They blame their pain on you, and say that you don't understand.
You see and feel all this keenly. And it breaks your tender heart.
Because after all, who was it that gave them life in the first place? Who is it that gives them breath every second of their day? Who is it that wakes them up every morning to begin a new day? Who is it that has given them every good and perfect gift? Who is it that paints a sunset for them every evening, and that causes it to rise again every morning? Who is it who is there for them twenty-four seven?
Jesus. The answer to every question.
And though He has all the power in the universe... Though everything that lives and moves has their being in Him... There is one thing He wants more than anything else. And we often deprive Him of it.
He wants us to look up, and say two simple words... and mean them.
Words that would be music in Jesus' ear more than all the orchestras on earth... And you can whisper them right now.
It's for more than one day a year. We know that in praising God we are blessed (and that right there is a far underestimated fact.) But have you ever thought that it blesses Jesus too?
By embracing the little gifts, and thanking Him for all He has given instead at looking at all we don't have, we bring the joy back into our own lives, and more importantly, into the heart of Jesus.
Because if it was just you and Jesus on this planet, and His love language was words of affirmation... How would He be doing? Would He have received any from you today?
Take a moment to stop, look up, and whisper those two words in His ear.
It will make His day.
There's something special and sacred about moments out in the fresh air with the Creator. It rejuvenates lagging courage, and inspires weary hearts.
I have long loved my quiet moments outside with Him. But in the turmoil of the last few months I had temporarily forgotten it's blessing.
He's reminded me. And I am grateful.
It's not in the flurry of activity, or the life of ceaseless labor that the greatest blessings are found.
In recognizing each little gift He sends, and taking the time to thank Him.
In stopping to feel His presence and appreciate His love.
In accepting pain as a medium for His greatest blessings, and learning the sweet peace and joy of full surrender.
In embracing the privilege of this moment and the things we may learn in it, whether or not it suits our fancy.
In quiet moments with Him.
"The one thing needed above all others today is that we shall go apart with our Lord, and sit at His feet in the sacred privacy of His blessed presence. Oh, for the lost art of meditation! Oh, for the culture of the secret place! Oh, for the tonic of waiting upon God!"
Quiet. It’s not something I crave naturally. Actually, it’s something I can tend to shy away from because it throws me way out of my comfort zone. But I’m discovering—it’s vital if we really want to serve.
It was only a week ago that I found myself on a plane headed home, leaving the country and all the beautiful people I’d come to love so quickly. The flight was none too long for me to process the last week, and fill up the pages of my journal. And I found myself wondering why God sometimes brings us to the quiet when there is a world starving for service. Now a week later, I don’t have to wonder.
Our first, full day home found me up on a ridge on our property taking time to think and pray. It’s amazing how that spot has become special after only four days. And it’s been in that time of communion that the answer to the question I battled with on the flight home has become obvious.
Quiet is preparation for service.
David lived out his youth in a quiet valley before he was qualified to be the king of Israel. Enoch spent many quiet weeks in the hills before going down to speak to the people. Moses raised sheep for forty years in the wilderness before he could lead the children of Israel out of Egypt. John the Baptist spent his childhood in the wilderness before giving the message for which he was born. And our dear Jesus lived in a little village for thirty years before his three years of ministry. The disciple John never received the Revelation until on the lonely island of Patmos. Paul spent several years in the wilderness before going out on his missionary journeys that shook the world.
The pattern strikes me. Could it be that quiet always comes before we can do something great for God?
On my little rock overlooking the valley I’ve been doing some deep thinking. I came across a quote that says it should be the mission of the youth to give the gospel to the world in this generation. And that left me pondering… what is it going to take to make us give the gospel to the world in our generation. The answer that came really hit home. Before we can share the gospel, we need to be living the gospel. I mean, really living it—not just talking about it. We can’t share it’s changing power until it’s changed us.
And so I’m seeking to remove all obstacles. I want to be totally changed—completely revolutionized. I’m seeking to treasure the quiet, and really learn the lessons it provides. And quiet is more than just living in the hills. Because with our phones, iPods, and tablets we can bring the clamor of the city to the hills, can’t we?
We’re headed out again… but my iPhone is still in my closet at home. (I’m still blogging from my old computer, but limiting myself to using it very little). J My phone is one of those distractions that is watering down the quiet, and taking it away almost completely when we’re on the road. And it’s shocked me how even the few hours I've been without it have shown me how dependent on it I was! Far too dependent. That’s going to change. It seemed like every five minutes I would find myself reaching for it.
If it takes three weeks to make a habit… I’m going for three weeks without my phone. And if I succumb to the temptation to use it within that time… I’ll start the three weeks again. So far, it’s challenging me, but I’m loving it. I've had so much more time to think—really think.
And so on this trip I’m choosing to take some quiet with me. Jesus, you can have my phone, and all the other things that distract me from you. I’ll find my joy in some little mountain spot of communion with you.
Quiet is preparation for service.
We're off to start the next camp--this time in England-- and again the devil's not happy. Yesterday afternoon had the second member of the family go down with some very nasty stomach illness.
And that was enough to cause some fear and trepidation in the rest of us. If charcoal indeed works as a preventative, we've had our fair share.
But it struck me as we went to bed last night... this is the second time. Just a few weeks ago it was a broken down car. This time it's sickness. And to add to it, there's only the four if us over here to speak at the camp. None of us can afford to be down. This is probably our busiest camp of the year.
And yet a reassuring voice whispers in my ear...
I'm not going to leave you, child. This is my work, and it will go forward. "The Lord will fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace."
I'm learning slowly. It's another chance to trust. And by grace I will...
This family camp starts tonight and runs through Monday morning. And I know that we will need every ounce of strength He gives us. And yet... "My grace is sufficient for thee, because my strength is made perfect in weakness."
Thank you Jesus, thank you.
Alone--helpless. With Him--invincible.
I'm excited. I don't know what Grace is going to do this week, but I know that He does all things well.
If you think of it, would you please keep us, and all the precious people attending camp in your prayers? I know there's four hearts over here who would be very grateful.
I’m tired of dreaming Revolution but not acting it. I’m tired of the complacency that follows me everywhere. I’m tired of the fact that it’s so easy to spend hours talking with friends, and yet so hard to spend an hour on my knees. I’m tired of reading those quotes about young people finishing the work, and not doing a thing different. I’m tired of having plenty when there are children starving with nothing. I’m ready for a change. Aren’t you?
I might not be going to Africa tomorrow. In fact I know I won’t be. But aren’t there people starving here in America too? Starving for love—starving for Jesus?
Isn’t it time for a change? I mean a real one. Not one that just begins and ends in our imagination; but one that changes us, our friends, and eventually our corner of the world?
Isn’t it time to pray like we’ve never prayed before? Not just for ourselves but for each other? To not even think twice about spending an hour on our knees, at any time, if that’s what the Master calls for?
And isn’t it time to put aside all foolishness? I mean, when was the last time we got together and our first thought was to talk about Jesus? And even if it was, somehow it wasn’t what came out. I’m tired of how awfully easy it is in the moment to burst out laughing at the end of a funny story and soon be on to one of my own, and yet how hard it is to keep a straight face and totally change the direction of the conversation. Where do funny stories fit into the Revolution?
I’m only sharing what He’s put on my heart. And I know it’s not just my heart He’s working on. Because this whole Revolution--it’s something we embark on together.
And yet somehow we’ve got to start living it, not just for a day, but for a lifetime. How? This is the question I’ve been pondering, and I’m coming to the conclusion that the only way is through a total heart change.
Because you know what it’s like. One morning I wake up all ready to jump out of bed and spend time with Him, and the next day I have no enthusiasm. That’s got to change.
And I’m sure I’m not the only one who has those times when I’m so close to Him that I can almost sense His heartbeat, but then a few weeks (or days) later I feel a million miles from Him.
And yet somehow, I just don’t think we can be living the Revolution one day and not the next. He’s got to change our hearts so that we get out of bed whether we feel like it or not, and fall on our knees. He’s got to place in us the burning desire to live in His presence, so that when He feels a million miles away, we won’t rest until we know our heart is knit with His.
And we’ve got to put aside our feelings and live by faith. We can’t just live it when we feel like it and just dream it when we don’t.
Luther lived revolution in his day. What was his key? Prayer. Bible study. He didn’t just read a daily devotional and pray a “help me be good today” prayer. It was hours of prayer, hours of time in the word. It’s what gave not only Luther, but the fathers of our faith their power.
And so, I am challenging myself, and I’m inviting you to join me. An hour of uninterrupted time on my knees everyday. Maybe you’re all doing it already, and I’m the last to catch on…
As for all I’m going to say on my knees for an hour, or how it’s going to fit into my schedule when I’m traveling, to be honest, I don’t know. But He does. And this Revolution is because we love Him.
Let me share a prayer from my journal this morning, and let me tell you again--I want to live this Revolution together.
“Revolution’s flame, begin in me. Put my heart and life aflame. More than anything this world offers, light my heart with loyalty. Self—let it be no more. Only the dead wood is ignitable. Take away my plenty; my all is Yours. Just let that fire burn bright in me. Bring the furnace seven times hotter, until I am pure gold, reflecting You. Change my heart—make it like Thine, until my life matches my words. No more dreaming about Revolution—let me live it.”
The enemy is waiting to knock us flat. But in my mind I see a battlefield with a line of soldiers standing shoulder to shoulder. The enemy tries to break through their ranks, but he can’t. Sooner will they give their lives than give him the victory. Their prayers are constantly ascending for each other. They stand, a solid line of soldiers--fighting together.
I’m ready for Revolution. Jesus, I’m looking forward to that hour tomorrow morning. And I’m thinking I won’t be the only one. Do whatever it takes to make us live Revolution. I’m in, if You’ll lead me.
Will you join me?
20. Lover of Jesus. Daughter. Sister. Friend. Servant. Fan of the kitchen. Graduate of Masters of Biblical Counseling.
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