Friday, January 23, 2009

Cozy Campfire Days Are Gone

I am floored tonight. I watched possibly the best video ever…at least one of them. It’s called “Finger of God” (thanks Barb). As I sat there watching God moving on people I was overwhelmed and could not hold back my tears. I have been going through a battle that I had not even chosen to recognize. I have not spoken my battle out to anyone because I myself didn't even realize it was happening.

For the past week I can not even begin to explain how I have felt and give it justice…but I will try. I have felt like one of the most useless people walking this earth. I felt as if everything I had ever done was nothing but a joke. I felt like my faith in God was weak and empty – I felt like the people I have been trying to love all these years are unreachable and not only that they are laughing in my face right along with the enemy.

I’ve felt like a failure in the body of Christ…l felt like the epitome of 2 Timothy 3:5: “Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof” of which the bible says to stay away from these types of people. As I sat there and watch Heidi Baker ministering to the Africans, healing the deaf and the lame…loving like Jesus would I was floored.

All I could think about through the tears was a combination of two things…

1. Oh God you are good…thank you God. Let me do that for you…allow me Lord to serve you like that...use me God to bring people face to face with you.

2. What a failure you were in Thailand…you didn’t bring the fire of God as you came to do…you yourself never even reaped one single soul. What did you do? You stayed in your home and took care of your children and “did what you could, when you could” (my own words) You aren’t worthy of the name missionary…those people are real missionaries. You should never have gone. (this has no baring on what my husband did for the Lord in Thailand...John worked is bottom off and spread the gospel in places it has never been)

As I continued to watch…tears streaming from my eyes…I could not contain the joy and pure in aweness of our God and his goodness. I love everything about Him and His message. The message that changed my life…I was a lost teenager…heavily into witchcraft and desperate for someone to see me…someone to love me.

I had no talents to speak of…I wasn’t beautiful…I wasn’t witty…definitely not funny but what I did have was that when I placed my hands on a Ouija board it moved and I wasn’t the one moving it. When I wanted to contact a spirit…I did and things happened and that was exciting to my “friends”. I was so desperate to be special the devil took advantage.

I still remember the view at camp. They had gathered us on a huge hill after a full day of fun with the counselors and we sat at the top of the hill and in the distance we saw lights approaching. We were instructed that now was not a time to play or talk because we were about to witness something very important. As the torches drew closer I could hear angry shouting and crying at the same time.

Through the flames and smoke I made out the figure of the cross in a shape I’d never seen before. It looked as if it was floating flat and then as it drew closer I saw there was a man below it…beaten and bloody…carrying it as guards whipped him. I watched as people followed behind and wept…and some cheered. I watched as they nailed Jesus to the cross…one nail at a time.

When the pole went into the ground and I heard a huge thud as it settled it was like something hit my heart and I could not stop weeping. When he screamed the words “it is finished” I was in love. It had all come together. At that moment I recognized my need for a savior to cover my sins and what a desperate lonely sinner I was…and this man…this Jesus came to give his life for me. He came to bridge the gap between me and God.

It was never the same again…I’ve been in love with him since and I still remember when I was younger and things were much simpler…waking up in the morning and just laying there smiling…with an unstoppable grin…because I had Jesus in my heart and I could feel his presence and I literally needed nothing more.

I remember just bursting with His love and dancing because I was so filled up and had to release it some way. The Bible was the best book I had ever had my hands on and I devoured it daily…no one could destroy my love for Him – I am my beloved’s and He is mine was my confidence. Even when I lost my world…my best friend, my fiancé, my mom’s confidence in me, my comfortable foundation…I still laid there that night…face up on my bed and just smiled and physically spoke through tears…"but as long as I have you Daddy I am happy".
So how is it that now, I’m 29 years old and a missionary on a short term mission trip…mother of 3 and wife to a wonderful 1 and at times this questions rocks me to my core: (quote from Crazy Love by Francis Chan – GET IT!) "what if heaven was you and all those you loved, healed, no pain, no problems, just parties and fun and joy and love. But no Christ. Would that be ok with you?"

My heart is for the Lord but yet when I ask myself this question I am shocked that I know the right answer and have been there for a long time but in my heart of hearts I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that I live my life at times as if I am ok with JESUS not being apart of my EVERYDAY life. As if I am ok with being some where inbetween average and ON FIRE FOR HIM. When I say above average - please don't think I'm being self righteous or something like that...I just know I don't believe and live like the normal/average Christian lives but yet I'm not allowing myself to be on fire for him either.

I’m not ok with ANYTHING but totally and absolutely, head over heels in love with Jesus and yet I’ve allowed myself to become this above average Christian without allowing Him to consume me as he always has. I feel like the work of the mission field left me a bit jaded because I didn’t trust and lean on Him throughout…allowing the continuous disappointment and the inability to get through to people’s hearts consume me and create some sort of callous because I felt like I couldn’t “keep wanting more”.

I felt spent and it was either…settle for the average…settle and be ok with just doing what you can do – allow the opportunity to come to you instead of MAKING the opportunity. Go to church on Sunday instead of BE THE CHURCH on Sunday…love conservatively instead of love ridiculously…it’s the difference between abiding and watching from afar.

I had allowed myself to give over to the much easier path of conformity because it was too hard to keep giving it my all…it seemed too hard to keep believing for miracles and keep stepping out even when in and of myself…hope for that soul was gone…but in Jesus…there is HOPE.

I focused so much on our affect on Thailand – I am just now realizing its effects on me. Now that we are back and I can’t seem to meet with hardly any of the people I genuinely love and want to fellowship with – I can’t find time to go out on the streets and witness – I feel like a ping pong ball because we’re bouncing around between so many of the churches that have loved us and continue to love us…and I so desperately want to be steady and serve - nothing in life is consistant since John is gone sporatically and we still do not and have not been in a permenant home situation in over a year and a half...and I ask myself “am I willing to go the second mile?”.

Am I willing to allow God to reignite the blue flame…not just the steady flame but the raging fire that burned with love for my savior and set me apart? No matter what the circumstances...Am I willing to continue weeping even when my body says it’s been enough? Am I willing to push the envelope and press in…PRESS IN to God and allow Him to have me completely and wholly as He once did? Am I willing that after I’ve gone that long mile for Him…and my body aches and I willing to go that second mile?

Yes Lord. Yes Lord….Yes Lord….Yes…All for you King Jesus…because the lamb that was slain is WORTHY OF HIS REWARD!

I ask you as you read this to ask yourself if you would be happy if you found yourself in a heaven that consisted of you, your family and friends, all the comforts you need, with everyone healed and happy…but Jesus was not there…would that be enough for you?

Do you truly know Jesus Christ as your personal savior? Have you given your life fully to Him with reckless abandon? Are you walking with Him daily? Have you settled for less in your Christian walk…have you stopped seeking Him as you once did?

Brothers and sisters in Christ – I beseech you to get on your face before God…repent and go after God with all that you are. Believe your beliefs and relinquish your life to God and you will not be disappointed. If your heart has been moved by this post…don’t call your friend…or pastor to help you through this…get on your face before God and let the Pastor of all Pastors shepherd you.

Have a personal experience with God right now…right where you are. (I’m not saying don’t go to church…I’m simply saying…don’t rely on man to give you an experience…experience God for yourself right now…you have direct access through the blood of Jesus and an experience with God is not dependant on anything but your surrendered heart and God…alone in a room…then GO TO CHURCH)

Ask God to move in your life and speak to you. Turn away from the things that you know do not please Him and begin to seek Him with all that you are…don’t settle…for lukewarm or even warm…BURN for Him.

My absolute favorite song by Nichole Nordeman when I was a teenager:

Started rubbing sticks together
I thought a spark would take forever
I never dreamt this fire would appear

When Moses saw the Bush in flames
And heard the branches speak his name
I wonder if he felt this kind of fear

'Cause I'm burnin'
Yeah, I'm burnin'
And I know I'm gonna blister in these flames
So I'll stay here
'Till this smoke clears
And I'll find you in the ashes that remain

Used to be that I could say
My faith was one arm's length away
From any flame that ever felt too warm

Asked for matches, but I received
A gallon full of gasoline
Now my cozy campfire days are gone

'Cause I'm burnin
'Yeah I'm burnin'
And I know I'm gonna blister in these flames
So I'll stay here
'Till this smoke clears
And I'll find you in the ashes that remain

'Knock with caution at the door
'They said, 'Beware of what you're praying for'
So I'll stand here with my whole desire

In the middle of this forest fire
'Till I've nothing left to show
And new life begins to grow...


Barb said...

Awesome call back to a first love with Jesus.

Misty said...

Hey Steph!
I read this post a few days ago...actually in the middle of the night...I keep thinking about a lot of what you said, very thought much going on in this little heart of mine:) I did not know your testimony..isn't that crazy? After all these years, I never knew your salvation experience?

Misty said...

PS...I like the new template and I love the new blog title:)

Debbie said...

Please don't separate yourself from the work John did in Thailand when you and he are ONE.

BTW, read Ted Dekker's book Obsession - a great parable on the obsessive love of God, both ways to us and from us.

(member of SHOP)

Meggan said...

Wow, what a post!
Thanks for your encouragement as I'm just stepping into my mission in Greece. But it sure helps realizing that wherever I am is my mission field for sharing God's love. :) I am SOOOO enjoying Greece. :) I hope you are having a good week in the states!