I have had a lot of 4 am mornings lately but let me tell you, it’s not because I’m ultra-disciplined. It’s because Holy Spirit keeps waking me up and for the life of me, it is impossible to get back to sleep at that forsaken hour. I woke up from such a tender dream that the Lord gave me in those early morning hours and I laid in bed, hearing over and over Jesus speaking His love over my heart– speaking identity over me about who I was to Him. I think that is a good start to this blog about identity. I’m starting with the conclusion in the first paragraph… the answer to all of the issues I speak of below. It is His voice of love that drives out every other false voice.
At 6 am I finally crawled out of bed, dragging my journal and Bible into the living room. I read the story in 1 Samuel 17 that everyone that has ever been to Sunday School is familiar with: David and Goliath. This is a story of inspiring triumph. If David can defeat Goliath, I too can defeat the Goliaths in my life, we’ve all said. I wonder how many self-help messages have been preached from this passage. But something in this story pricked my heart in a way it never has before. Here, we see this young kid who kind of seems to be on an ego-trip. He actually has the balls to suggest that he might be the giant-killer… out loud. It does seem a little cocky, now that I think of it. I kind of identified with his brother Eliab who looked at him in disdain. I probably would have thought the same thing… who the heck do you think you are? I’m bigger, older, and wiser than you and even I know this is impossible. But David doesn’t receive his brother’s insult– or label of himself.
But then Saul hears about this mischief and calls David into his chambers. Saul of course, sides with Eliab. David is not making sense. He’s a child. How in the world could he make this happen? But knowing that there was no way he could talk David out of it, he finds some armor for the young boy to wear into battle. He places on David what He believes is the right thing… Saul’s identity, not David’s. But David refuses the armor. It’s just not me, David says. He felt uncomfortable, bulky and it’s just not how things rolled with him. Both Eliab and Saul have tried to place what they conceive as David’s identity on David’s shoulders. Instead of seeing his value from the lense of the Father, they are only seeing David through their own flesh and expectations.
I have had some wonderful people speak into my life over the years. In that, I have been very blessed but unlike David I haven’t always believed that I was as valuable as what they spoke over me. When you hear promises and worth spoken over you and you resist God’s Word and walk in unbelief, the enemy can easily come in and snatch the Word from your heart. It can open the door for the enemy to use others to reject our value and worth and place false identities on us. When we believe a lie from the enemy, we carry it around with us. It’s placed on us just like a piece armor and it sends messages to those around us. If we believe we are worthless, unwanted, and undesirable, that’s what others will see us as. The lie becomes embedded in our hearts, creating walls and separating us further from the heart of God. There really is a demonic element to a lie that influences relationships and creates an atmosphere of deception.
What I want to start doing is resisting those false identities. As new creations (I don’t care what your theology says, that’s what we are and everything else is a lie), we aren’t the negative, worthless, stubborn, sinful beings that people speak over us. Even if we behave in a way that is sinful… that is not who we are. Yes, we need to deal with sin, weakness… whatever but that is not our identity and I want to start acting like David who REFUSED to receive that false armor upon himself. He refused to conform to someone elses identity because that wasn’t who God created Him to be. He didn’t do things like Eliab or Saul did them. Maybe Saul fights best with a suit of armor on but David doesn’t. Get over it, Saul. Let David, be David. He refused to give into other peoples misunderstood conceptions of who he was in the kingdom.
Another thing to remember: trust Jesus to deal with the Sauls’ and Eliabs’. Nothing shows more unbelief and insecurity when you feel the need to fight for your own identity. David, just simply told Saul what he was gonna do and he did it. He calmly told him that the armor wasn’t going to work and he went out on the battlefield and “did his thing”. We don’t need validation from others. We get our validation from God. Only from Jesus.
Reproach:1. blame or censure conveyed in disapproval: a term of reproach.2. an expression of upbraiding, censure, or reproof.3. disgrace, discredit, or blame incurred: to bring reproach on one’s family.
4. a cause or occasion of disgrace or discredit.
Do not fear, for you will not be ashamed;
Neither be disgraced, for you will not be put to shame;
For you will forget the shame of your youth,
And will not remember the reproach of your widowhood anymore.
I’m not a fan of rhyming unless I’m writing a song but I thought perhaps it would add a tiny amount of amusement to a semi-morbid post on depression. Okay… So maybe it’s not as funny as I thought it would be.
This morning I listened to Mike Bickle’s message on encountering God in depression. I think most of us have experienced times of despair and depression… or maybe I’m just saying that to make myself feel better. Just imagine a really crappy modern scenario and you might begin to understand what David was feeling when he hid in the cave of Adullam. Imagine you ran from your murderous wife and all of your friends have abandoned you because they’re too scared she’ll come after them with a butcher knife too! On top of that you’ve been fired from your job and there is little hope that your career as CEO of the most powerful company in the world will be renewed. Your house was foreclosed on and now you are living in a cardboard box in Bedford Sty and your only friends are a band of raggedy, wild hobos who have been discarded by society and no one… absolutely no one understands what you are going through… well except for God, of course. But does He really understand? Because you haven’t been feeling Him around lately. You haven’t heard any direction from Him. You haven’t heard Him speak words of hope to you in a long, long time. His presence doesn’t seem to be a part of your daily routine anymore. So maybe He doesn’t understand. Oh happy day!
Who wouldn’t be depressed after something like this? I have to say, I have had a few moments in my life similar to this and I have to consider that God might be using these situations to train me and strengthen me for greater things. In Psalm 142, David is clearly depressed. This Psalm sounds like a great big complaint. A list of whines to God. But as Mike says in his message, it’s better to complain to God than complain to man. When we complain to man it’s sin but when we complain to God, it’s called prayer. Throughout his Psalms David repeats over and over who God is to Him, even in the midst of terrible events. He cries out to God to deliver him from those that are pursuing him and finally, he declares his future promises over his own life.
Because of Saul, David wonders if his promise to be king will ever be fulfilled. He wonders if God has broken his promise as Saul doesn’t seem to think David will ever be king while he’s alive. In the midst of pain, depression, and despair don’t allow ANYONE to tell you the promises spoken over your life are not from Him. In fact, during these moments use those promises and prophecies to keep you pushing forward. That’s what prophecy is for! And most importantly, say out loud who God is to you. He is your refuge, your strength, your deliverer, your defender, your high tower, and your peace. Pour out your complaints before Him and watch as He meets you in the center of them.
I sat in a sideroom of the prayer room one Tuesday afternoon during a fasting meeting and listened as one of my prophetic mentors explained to me that I was about to enter one of the most pivotal, horrific, and beautiful seasons of my life. That was in November of 2008 and on the previous day I had an absolutely disrupting encounter with the Lord. Today I remembered a part of that conversation. She explained a similar encounter and journey she had years before.
“It was the most difficult season of my life. It had a lot to do with love. A lot of ‘Sermon on the Mount’ type stuff.”
A lot of ‘Sermon on the Mount’ type stuff. That sounds nice. That doesn’t sound too bad.
Boy, was I wrong.
I don’t care who you think you are, but if you think you are good at the Sermon on the Mount, you are delusional and probably arrogant. I’m pulling no punches here. I love Jesus, but this Sermon is absolutely the most flesh-killing tool He operates with not to mention the fact that it is completely offensive… in a good way :/.
This weekend I was driving down the road with my new friend Rachel who was visiting for our Winter Gathering. She told me she felt the Lord wanted to free me from the bondage of worry (ahem) and that He wanted to free me from the bondage of the ‘need to be right.’ Oh yes. That’s what she said. And the problem with this is that Rachel happens to be the sweetest person I’ve ever met in my life so I couldn’t accuse her of impure motives.
But here, I realized what the Lord was saying was that that all of this really wasn’t about who is right or wrong… it was about self-preservation. Do I care more about preserving my reputation or do I care more about pleasing Him and becoming a humble peacemaker? It’s not the question that is so humiliating but the fact that my answer is so obvious when I allow the Holy Spirit to examine my heart. It is moments like these that I don’t want to waste. Moments that I know the Father is doing something so beyond the actual circumstance I’m in. He sees so far ahead and we stand there, grasping for control when we will never really have it. We really think we’re ‘big stuff’ and then we realize that we have no idea what we’re doing. We’re idiots. Idiots with a great inheritance. Sometimes God doesn’t actually care if we’re right or not. Sometimes He just wants to show us the idol of approval in our lives.
It makes me feel like a child. Like a two year old being potty-trained.
Oh yeah. That’s how I’m suppose to feel.
Which brings me back to another incredible vision I had this weekend.
Dancing. Dancing in my pink bedroom with the ruffled canopy bed in the background. I was eight. And I was worshipping. And He was dancing too.
And then we were in a field of flowers, dancing wildly, spinning and spinning and spinning. Then a drastic change in scenery.
Suit of armor, like Joan of Arc. Swinging my sword, cutting off the heads of demons, challenging the forces of darkness.
Back the camera up. I’m not Joan of Arc. I’m a child. I’m a little child wearing a miniature suit of Armor and the Father is standing right beside me and He’s huge. HUGE.
A massive dragon flies toward me. It was not nearly as big as the Father but it was A LOT bigger than me. I thrust my sword through it’s belly and it was forced backward with ease. I threw that silly creature back so effortlessly as the Father looked on in pride… even though I knew He was giving me all of the power to do it in the first place. It was more like He enjoyed the very sight of me… not so much that I was some crazy, skilled warrior.
There happens to be more to what I saw but I’ll keep it to myself for now.
The point is this– He’s God. I’m man (lady). Whether you’re a retired 78 year old worldwide evangelist or a four year old child, we are children of God and children have a very limited understanding of what our Dads are up to; why they do the things they do. We just go with the flow and let Him handle it, knowing that whatever happens it is for our good…
Yesterday, through the World Wide Web, I heard of the tragic loss of an amazing man, Derek Loux. I didn’t know Derek but I knew two of his teenage daughters who loved their daddy greatly and admired him so much. He was a man to be admired. He was the Father of ten (mostly adopted) children, Director of the Orphan Justice Center and has dedicated his life to seeing justice break into the sinister world of human trafficking.
It caused me to think long and hard about why I am on this earth. What am I living for? What am I willing to die for? What preoccupies my thoughts? Is it Him? Is it Jesus? Does He have my full attention? This earth is fading fast, my life is merely a breath… what am I giving my life to?
I use to roll my eyes when friends at IHOP would talk about being celibate for life. You’re just scared, I would think. You’re not willing to be vulnerable and you’e tired of being rejected so this is your way of running. Strange thing is, after all of those eye rolls, I’m beginning to think that celibacy is actually a beautiful thing. To set my life and my heart aside and plunge wide into the deep things of God. To have no restraints, nothing holding me back. I know that at the thought of this, He smiles. He smiles at my willingness and my naivety. I’m not making vows any time soon, because that is a serious matter and one that many take too lightly, in my opinion, but I’m keeping my heart open to whatever direction the Lord might lead me to.
I’m anticipating an interesting season ahead. One that might be difficult but rewarding as I seek Him in this area of my life. I don’t want to be the girl who gives her life to something that won’t last. I want to live a life that mirrors eternity. That reflects a burning passion for the Man Jesus.
During college I worked as a supervisor for the afternoon program at a Montessori School in Little Rock. At the time, though I was pretty spiritually immature, I was also mildly vocal about my faith. I would often have spiritual discussions with my co-workers, many of whom claimed to be Christians. *Maria was a good friend of mine at work. She was very funny, somewhat controversial in her subject matter but when you were around her, you most definitely had a good time. She was a riot to hang out with.
One afternoon I snuck into the teachers lounge to warm up my lunch when I saw an open yellow pages on the table and noticed that it was open to the “abortion” section. I tried to shrug it off, thinking that it was just a mistake and that it just happened to be open to that page but I had a sneaking suspicion that one of my co-workers might be in trouble.
At the end of the week I was alphabetizing a school directory when Maria came into my office and shut the door behind her. She had a bewildered look in her eye.
“Brooke. I came to you, because I know you’re a Christian.” Maria said. She looked anxious. I felt anxious.
“I have five-hundred dollars in my pocket right now to go have an abortion this afternoon.” She became silent and waited for me to respond. The statement hung in the air, suspended like one of those Japanese paper lanterns… only a lot heavier.
I leaned forward and looked into her eyes and told her that if she aborted this baby she was murdering her own child. I told her that the child had a destiny and the the Lord was already drawing up plans for that destiny and she had no business altering the plans of God for her child. I told her that if she had that abortion she would be guilty of the bloodshed of a perfectly innocent human being and that she would be judged for it by God Himself. She would be judged because she not only knew it was evil (otherwise she wouldn’t have come to me, knowing I would try and talk her out of it), but because someone had warned her of how insidiously evil it was.
What happened? Ten months later she was strolling down our hallway with a tiny little boy named Michael.
I love Maria to death and I know that decision was a truly difficult one for her. She already had one child from a pregnancy when she was fifteen and now she would not only be a single mother for one but TWO children. I don’t pretend to realize that this would be an easy thing for her. But now she has this beautiful, precious little Image Bearer who was formed skillfully and uniquely for the enjoyment and pleasure of God.
We as Believers in Christ have the responsibility of warning this world of the judgement that sin will cause. Not only because we too will be judged but because those who commit that sin will be judged as well. It’s called mercy.