O Lord our God, let your sweet beauty rest upon us
and give us favor.
Come work with us, and then our works will endure,
and give us success in all we do.
Psalm 90:17, TPT
There’s a point at which this starts to feel crazy. For all of these months I’ve been sitting and I’ve been writing. I’ve been praying and I’ve been crying. I’ve been talking to people and to God and I’ve been wondering what everything means. The embers have been stirred inside of me and the gifts that have been there all along, gifts being cultivated and watered by the Spirit in the secret place, are being uncovered…uncovered even to me, and I am left breathless in wonder, somehow saying, “God, I had no idea this was in there,” even though He and I have been working on it all this time.
So He brought me here and He set me down and He opened my time to where I started choking on too much of it. You know, when you have been running for years and you suddenly stop in the space of time, you start to feel the beating of your heart, and you start to assess what is going on inside.
And that stopping and feeling the beating of my heart…that was the grace of God even though, to be honest, it nearly destroyed me. Out on the battlefields I had been fighting for so long, thought I was fighting for good, for my family, to minister well, to be an example, to provide, and to love and serve people. But here with my beating heart and my battle scars, I realized so much of the fight was actually a fight for my life, a fight against the very enemy of my soul and his schemes which had been cutting me down and trying to take me out for a good long time. And I didn’t even know it until God brought me here to stop, to breathe, and to look at my heart.
Figuring that out all of the sudden can be pretty brutal, but oh, grace of God, it can also be the most astonishingly beautiful thing in the whole wide world and in all of life, because it’s there…there in the realization of the ache, in the depth of wounds, in the opening and cleaning of the scarred-over-places that Jesus becomes so real, so beautiful, so perfect, and so TRUE.
Yes, sometimes it just felt pretty much like hell as I walked through the dark night of the soul, but here on this side of it my spirit is open, my heart is tender, and my soul is so softened to the reality of His grace that the very mention of His Name brings tears to my eyes. And I say with sincerity…oh thank You for the hard places. Thank You for the suffering. Thank You, because I have found the true beauty of You, the intense and painful joy of sharing in your suffering, of being crucified with Christ.
And oh yes! How He lives within me now! And oh how I trust Him who Loves me and who gave Himself for me (Galatians 2:20)! I wouldn’t trade this. I wouldn’t trade this for all of the happy sunny days in the world. For it is here that I am known (isn’t that really what we all long for? John 10:27, Gal. 4:9, 1 Cor. 13:12) and here that I am knowing:
“But whatever gain I had [the serving and the providing and the being a good example, a good everything to everyone. The fighting on the battlefield and taking wounds in order to maintain a sense of worth], I counted as loss for the sake of Christ [stopping in the space of time and wrestling with a sense of worthlessness. Finding surrender and getting to see He had me here so He could make Himself known to me]. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [even if it means that everything I thought about being a Christian is turned on its head, and coming to the realization of how audaciously and ferociously He Loves merely me. It absolutely is not works, lest I boast]. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish [the things I thought mattered don’t matter, at least not how I thought, and now that I know that – I have lost me and all the striving for perfection, and I have found CHRIST], in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ [and when the chains fall off with the knowing that all is grace, that all is Christ, oh – I gain Him as I lose me!], the righteousness from God that depends on faith— that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death [the heartache, the purging, the humbling that comes from having nothing to offer, the dying to self and to the misconceptions I’ve had of God, the opening of my eyes to the places I’ve been hurt and cannot recover without Him, the suffering of walking through endless deserts and coming face-to-face with the depth of my brokenness], that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead [oh beautiful Savior. We taste of Your crucifixion, yes. But we taste also of Your resurrection life…not only in eternity, but even here and now in this temporary residence. How good, how good, how good You are.]. Philippians 3:7-11, ESV (notes mine)
This time which I had seen as a curse, the unending time that stripped me of my sense of worth, I now see as gift extraordinary, a lavish display of Love. For He gave it to me so I might die…and so I might truly live. Now as I enter into this life of eternal grace, these gifts inside of me, the gifts that have been stirring and igniting, they are now catching fully on fire because the passion of Christ for me is welling up inside of me and creating ponds and streams and rivers of grace within me that are springing up into the overflow of all He’s invested in me being poured out…for I cannot contain it all, and I cannot keep it to myself. In fact, now more than ever, I yearn to pour myself out as a drink offering (Phil 2:17), partnering with Jesus and working hard to make known His sweet beauty through the divine gifts He’s placed in my hands and my heart.
I know all is grace, and I know all is Him, but I also know that somehow He still uses my YES as the doorway to it all. So I say yes, and yes, and yes again, every single day. Yes to being outrageously loved (and being ok with that – no – reveling in that). Yes to the gifts, to the entrustments He has placed in my hands, and working hard (by His grace!) to do with them what He has intended, which will often mean yes to suffering as I walk in a way that is counter-cultural and sometimes even opposite to my perception of “good”. Yes and surrender to letting all this love He’s pouring on me be my inspiration for absolutely everything that I do…the writing, the serving, the lifting others up from the ashes, the equipping with the Word a generation which faces intense opposition, and offering the difficult tenderness of time so that others can encounter the reality of His Love, too.
Worthy is the Lamb. Worthy is the Lamb. Worthy is the Lamb.
***Hi, friends. Ok, I totally realize that to some of you, these words I’ve penned may feel like a lot of rambling. It is all coming from the overflow of my heart right now, and this is the cadence with which my heart sings. But let me tell you this: I have been on a journey, and I have fought so much of the way. But it’s a journey with God that, though riddled with heartache, has led me to a place of realizing that His Love for me is more extraordinary and more extravagant that I could ever have imagined. I have spent my whole life trying to be good, responsible, and holy. And God knows that I have been ever always seeking His heart and wanting to honor Him. But somewhere along the way, I forgot that His Love for me is not based in anything I do. It is a Love that is based completely in WHAT HE HAS ALREADY DONE. His Love for me burned so bright that He who is God took on the frailty of human flesh and lived among us (John 1:14), so He could be a priest who identifies with our weaknesses (Hebrews 4:15), and who, by His sacrifice, atoned for our every failing and sin in order to reconcile us to God (Rom. 4:25, 5:8-9) and, ultimately, to rescue us from this evil world in which we live (Gal. 1:4).
He chose me. He chose us. He Loved us, and He has accomplished our reconciliation through the greatest Love of all – the laying down of His life. And oh, the very greatest news: through His resurrection He defeated death and the grave (Rev. 1:18, 2 Tim. 1:10, Heb. 2:14). Hallelujah!
For me, it seems He had to take me through a season where, in a practical sense, it didn’t look like I was offering much of anything to anyone. My schedule has stayed wide open for nearly a year (much to my chagrin and heartache), I haven’t been making money, I have had time on my hands, the weight of which felt exactly like guilt, because I wasn’t “working hard for the Kingdom” in the way that I have perceived my whole life as appropriate.
But catch this. Please catch this: The Kingdom work that needed to be done was what He was doing inside of me. Only when His people have an intimate and personal revelation of His Love simply for them as individuals can they accurately and purposefully explain and reveal this love to a broken and hurting world. People will always know when you are doing something because you’re striving to do the right thing. And that’s not bad. But much more impactful is when people know (and trust me, they know) when you are doing something simply from an overflow of love.
So that is what I’ve discovered. I’ve discovered His Love for me at a level I had never understood before. And now I can love others with the same abandon. There will be an ongoing wrestling to rid myself of my flesh and my need to accomplish, but at the same time…I know – like deeply, profoundly KNOW – that He graces me to accomplish what He has entrusted to me when I am resting in the unshakable knowledge that He loves me and that He is working all things together for my good (Rom. 8:28). And when that grace hits…oh…the lid is off to the impossible He can do through me. But that’s because I have hidden in Him, I have surrendered to Him, I have become ok with wherever He takes me even if I look like a fool…because I know that He Loves simply me.
And I am wrecked in that revelation.***
Each one of us needs revelation of His Love. As we walk this road of dreaming God-dreams, sometimes we forget that Jesus is right there walking with us. I want to encourage the dreamer's heart to stay fixed on Him as the dreamer walks the path of calling. So, I have created The Dreamer's Atlas, a weekly email of encouragement for the dreamer's heart. It's absolutely free. I want you on this journey with me. All you have to do is sign up here. I can't wait to hear about your dreams. <3: