September 22, 2017

God Before The Heavens and The Earth

Good night, good morning, and anytime in-between that you might be coming across this post.  I have been attending a missions training school over the last month and our daily schedule for three days a week has enabled me to be praying and spending quality time with God from 10pm until 2am! If you've never spent time with God late into the night, let me tell you, the time is precious.  No one else is awake to interrupt.  There is no where to be, nothing else to do (except maybe sleep) but you can do that later...

Tonight is not one of my required nights in prayer but my room mate and I opted to do it anyway--for totally physical/human need reasons, to stay in a rhythm of sleep and being awake.  However, as is God's way, He has met me with some precious new knowing.  Over the course of the last couple of weeks, I have been attending a class about the life of David.  This man had a heart after God's own heart.  When he screwed up, he went right back to God without shame, fell to his knees in worship and adoration and desire for intimacy all over again.  No running, no avoiding, no feeling that God would not have mercy and forgiveness and abundant love always.  I want this!  David knew God by meditating on the law day and night; he adored the law and it gave him great joy to study it and know God deeply through it.  The Scriptures that David had access to were not the full Bible that we have today.  The law was the Torah, the first five books of the Bible; the books that I learned many stories from as a child in Sunday school and have since spent little time in.  But David loved these books and they were one of the ways he learned about and enjoyed God.

And so, I have embarked on meditating on this part of the Scriptures.  I kid you not, I have been stuck on Genesis 1:1 for a week.  I kept feeling like there was something there, something profound in this first verse of God's "autobiography" that I should understand about Him.  We could paint the obvious picture that "In the beginning, God created the heavens and earth."  Up until now, I have more or less read this verse to read an abbreviated version of this verse: In the beginning, God created the earth.  That's what is tangible and somewhat more understandable for me.  I'm on the earth and experience it every day.  But, have you ever stopped to consider, "...God created the heavens and the earth?"  We know little of the heavens without really delving into the Bible about them and it takes faith to believe they were created and exist.  The heavens are a whole other world--God's personal dwelling place, vast and glorious beyond our imagination.  He built the heavens and the earth to be His dwelling place.

It doesn't stop there though.  Tonight I was meditating deeply about this verse again and I thought about something I have never before.  God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit existed before anything else existed.  Go on to verse two and we see that the earth was formless and void.  In other words, there was absolutely nothing except dark open space.  If God is eternal, ("Behold, God is exalted, and we do not know Him; the number of His years is unsearchable." Job 36:26) then that means He was there in His fullness for eternity before time.  I invite you to pause here and just think about this for a minute.  Eternity before time is not something our humanness has the ability to comprehend.  I tried to imagine it myself but there was nothing there.  It was just darkness never-ending before earth time started.  That's where God was.  I would like to imagine that He has created other earths and lives and galaxies before this.  Eternity has enough time to fill with as many creatings of heavens and earths and ages as God would want to.  Was it really only the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit before creation?  According to the Scriptures, that's all we have.  "In the beginning, [of human and heavenly existenceGod..." Does your brain hurt yet?

And then this question came to mind, what did God in His three persons do all the time?  There wasn't day or night, there weren't people or earthly or heavenly things to concern Himself with.  There was no redemptive story yet.  Nothing but to be.  To be for eternity sounds super _______.  I don't actually know what word to insert so I'll let you fill in your own thought.  But God said, I AM that I AM. So He was.  The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit fellowshipped.  They enjoyed each other.  I don't know what that looks like even remotely.  I had a funny picture of them doing somersaults in the formless, void, dark endless space and laughing hysterically about it together.  But of course, these are things that I cannot fill in the blanks with.  It is not in my capacity to have answers for.  However, this is what humans--all the heavens and the earth were created for.  To dwell and walk with God and fellowship with Him in deep relationship, to give Him glory just by existing in His image and His creativity.  And this begins the story...

We have an incredible unfathomable God!  He's inviting you to discover all mysteries that are hidden in His story.  

March 13, 2017

The Best Tomato Soup

While I was in Uganda, I was blessed to know and be in community with several missionaries who came from the IHOP-Atlanta community.  The Sheehees were one of these families; they are the primary leaders of the school I worked at.  This dear family arranged a sending dinner gathering for me and one other volunteer who left on the same day.  All the missionaries and several of our local friends got together for a wonderful meal and some time of prayer as we prepared to leave the following day.  It was a really special time.  Will Sheehee gave me a prophetic word about John 14:8--Show us the Father and that will be enough for us.  He said that God is revealing the Father to me in a way that far surpasses my previous knowledge and understanding of Him.  And that I would hold my heart and all its contents out to the Father and His embrace would heal it more every day.  Even before Will shared this word of encouragement to me, I knew that God was slowly and gently touching me with this part of Himself.  My initial response was just to receive the words, pray into them, and invite God to fulfill it as He saw fit in this season.  I tucked the paper in my Bible next to the passage and pulled it out every so often.

I had more or less tucked it away for a later by the time I got to IHOP in January--that is until we had a class within the first couple weeks about the Father heart of God.  The class focused on reconciling with our fathers and with God, identify the lies we had projected onto God as a result of the pain many of our fathers have caused our hearts, rebuke them, and receive truth of who God is and act in forgiveness toward our earthly fathers.  As I sat in this class, I felt so discouraged because how are you supposed to reconcile with someone who isn't alive anymore?  The teacher suggested that I start meeting with another leader here to try to do some father reconciliation.

I set up this meeting and the ball started rolling on this receiving new revelation about the Father God during this season.  I don't think I have received all of what God wants me to know about Himself in light of this identity of His but I'm being changed.  I made a decision just moments before deciding to share these thoughts with you that I need to stop projecting on God what my father did in his life as my dad.  I have projected evil actions on the Lord, I have blamed the Lord, I have held a grudge against the Lord, I have misjudged God Almighty. These are all so wrong!  I have chosen to repent and walk into renewing my thoughts and words as I talk about my Father God and allow Him to renew my heart.

I have recently been convicted by the power of words.  I have not stewarded my words as well as I should since well, forever and it is time to pay attention to what I say and not let any idle or perverse talk out of my mouth but only what is right and good for building others up, including myself and God.  I need to speak only what is truth and the lies that I believe need to be rebuked.  For example: I've lost count the number of times that I have said I don't trust God or I struggle to trust Him.  While there are times that it might be true, I need to tell myself to trust Him and identify the areas that I do trust Him rather than focusing on the fact that it's struggle.  Words have power and I don't think I realize just how much even now.    

One of the most powerful and challenging things I have done in the prayer room this entire internship was to take some time to ask Father three questions and list to and write down His response.  The three questions are: What does He think about me?  What does He feel about me? How does He see me?  I spent an entire afternoon listening, writing, and crying at His feet as I let His words penetrate my heart filled with lies.  I have not dedicated enough time to continuously meditating on what He spoke over me but I have not experienced Father's love in quite that way before.  I never realized how much I need words of affirmation from Him and how powerful they are to the heart when I know that they are for real.

My Father delights in me.  He wants to spend time with me.  He wants to hear what I have to say.  He likes me.  He thinks I look good.  He thinks I'm smart and beautiful.  He applauds my successes and loves the things that I'm good at.  He likes to talk about me and thinks about me and prays for me.  He likes the things I like and wants to be a part of my life, my decisions, and my activities.  He takes care of me even when I feel like I'm not being taken care of, He still is.  Does Father not know how to give good gifts to me?  He has provided seamlessly for all that I need exactly when I need it.  He has never failed me.  The more I learn about Father and spend time with Him and talk with Him, the more I want Him to be a part of my life and the less negative my perspective is of Him.

After being in the internship for a couple months, I was in the prayer room and asked God to show me a memory that He wanted to heal my heart through.  I recalled when I was young at a New Years Eve party and got hit in the face with hockey puck.  Not a fun time.  There were two memories related to this incident.  The first that came to my mind was a few days after the injury and I was at home.  My right cheeks was so swollen it was hard to move/open my mouth and when I smiled, half my face drooped.  My dad was a great cook and he made me some tomato soup that I could drink with a straw.  I remember sitting at the kitchen table and noticed that he made the tomato soup with milk.  Weird, mom never did that.  But he explained that it was way better with milk--says the farmer... ;)  He was right, tomato soup is so much better with milk.

What I got out of that memory was this, dad loved me somewhere in there.  I have allowed myself to believe for far too long that if he loved me, he would still be alive today and wouldn't have abandoned our family.  Despite the darkness that took over, there was somewhere in him that loved me and wanted to provide and take care of me.  And he wanted the "best" for me--even if it was only tomato soup.  The gesture is forever sealed on my mind and now is a special memory to hold close to my heart.  The one that God used to reveal to me that not only did my dad love me, but He loves me so much greater than I can know and wants the best tomato soup and the best of all else for me.

The other memory was the night I actually got hit.  Now, bear with me, it's possibly that I don't have all the details right but I remember it like this.  I was ice skating around the perimeter of the outdoor rink and others at the party were playing hockey in the center.  No I wasn't the only one skating on the same rink as a hockey game.  Poor set up yes.  But that's what happens in little country towns in Vermont.  All of a sudden, whack!  A puck nailed my right cheek bone and just missed my eye.  I felt the instant pain that made my knees buckle and felt myself scream and begin to collapse.  Someone came up behind me and caught me from under my arms and tucked me in close and we skated to the shelter.  Or rather, I was held up from behind and my dad did all the skating.  I knew it was him even though I couldn't see him.  I felt his strength and safety despite the throbbing pain that consumed my whole face.  He held me while others put ice on my face and tried to calm me down.

Again, my dad loved me.  But this time, he loved me with his strength and safety and tenderness.  I have few memories of my dad, and most are not happy but again, this one will be forever seared on my heart as the time that God showed me, my father wasn't always dangerous.  He loved me and wanted to take care of me and keep me safe and when I was in trouble, would come out of nowhere and carry me to shelter and tend my wounds.  This is an accurate picture of my dad's heart and my Father's heart that I had allowed to smothered out by dark memories, grief, anger, and unforgiveness.

This revelation cannot be undone.  This is my Father's heart and my dad's heart redeemed in my soul and mind.  I did not know my dad well, but now I know him better.  I did not know my Father above well, but now I understand a part of Him that I couldn't have known before now.  I want to invite you to invite God into your memory and let Him redeem lies and heal you with truth.  It will change your life.