Who is this coming up from the wilderness
leaning on her beloved? Song of Songs 8:5
This morning I caught myself praying some sort of twisted prayers… “Jesus, make me like ‘this’ so that I can do this.” If you saw what I had asked for which was really just that I would love well, you probably wouldn’t be very shocked. It sounds like an honorable prayer… like something that would be good to pray. But I felt the Holy Spirit tap on my shoulder because in that request was a hidden agenda that I had somehow missed. He started to talk to me about Saul and David and how Saul always had an agenda and David just loved. He just loved and obeyed and that was it….
In my head came images of my time in Kansas City, sitting in the then-blue chairs during my internship and feeling the presence of God on my heart. All of that time I got to waste on loving Jesus with no agenda. It was before I was singer, before I was a prayer room team leader, before I led in the student internship. I can’t tell you how amazing that time was for me and how much it changed my life. But along the way ambition and the need to feel in control of my life kicked in. It came on me subtly. We can always use the excuse that we are “building the kingdom” and I guess this is true but is God really pleased with our service if it’s not done completely out of love for Him?
As I was reading my 1998 version of Mike Bickle’s Song of Songs manual, something he said hit me,
She sees her strengths as that which can hinder her in her deep life in the Holy Spirit unless they are consciously submitted to Him
I don’t know if you subconsciously do this but I think I can take some parables out of context like the parable of the talents and believe it’s all up to me when God gives us a gifting or “talent”. But I’m feeling more and more that as we lay those things down and allow Him to fill us back up with Him, He can actually use us to build His kingdom through that gifting. It’s like we completely empty ourselves of anything that is out of our own ability and ask Him to fill us with Him so that true anointing can flow. Not only in a skill but in relationships, friendships, creativity, career, communication… it all works the same way.
Oh God, that I would learn to allow You to be my strength and to not withhold anything that is myself from You.
I remember hearing one of the strangest analogies when I was at IHOP. My prayer room team leader compared our hearts to a pound of frozen ground beef. Set the ground beef before a fire and little by little, the frost disappears from the surface and the ground beef is thawed. He was explaining that if we posture our hearts before the fire of God’s love, the hardness that enshrouds our heart will eventually evaporate.
My heart has been feeling that way lately… like a pound of frozen ground beef. I read a book this morning that reminded me of the moments I’ve had when my heart has been tender and I have felt a ‘groan’ in my heart for more of God. I love that feeling. That feeling that you are so fixed on the love of God for you… manifest presence of Jesus that you can’t move… you can’t think… you can’t talk… you can only revel in the pleasures of God. Any distraction, any movement and you are terrified it will all go away and you will do anything to keep Him near.
So this morning I thought a few things… I thought…
Maybe I’m going to leave my agenda behind this morning. Maybe I’m not going to go by my usual scheduled prayer sessions. Adoration first, then prayer, then listening, then journaling, then reading my Bible. NOPE. I’m just going to sit here and let Him love me because He loves to love me. I’m going to place my cold heart before His flame.
Thus the thaw begins.
21 Whether you turn to the right or to the left, your ears will hear a voice behind you, saying, “This is the way; walk in it.” Isaiah 30:21
I remember the first time I really felt like I heard the voice of the Lord. It wasn’t what you might think. I didn’t hear it audibly as if it were booming from heaven but it might as well have been just as clear. I was in my bedroom in Dallas, sitting silently before the Lord and asking Him to speak to me. I had just been disobedient. Because of mistrust and fear I had put my hands into something and tried to control a situation that wasn’t mine to control. I didn’t trust Him. I was face down on my bed when I heard Him tell me He was taking me into the wilderness.
14 “Therefore I am now going to allure her;
I will lead her into the wilderness
and speak tenderly to her. 15 There I will give her back her vineyards,
and will make the Valley of Achor [b] a door of hope.
There she will respond [c] as in the days of her youth,
as in the day she came up out of Egypt.
16 “In that day,” declares the LORD,
“you will call me ‘my husband’;
you will no longer call me ‘my master
About a year after hearing that voice, I ended up on staff at the International House of Prayer in Kansas City. The Lord used this time to help me differntiate the voice of the enemy and His own voice. His voice doesn’t contain accusation or condemnation and it doesn’t result in fear. His voice may sting a little but the end result is always hope. It always results in peace. It always results in love.
I think so many of us don’t hear the voice of the Lord because we are afraid of what He will say to us. But the truth is that he is so intrigued, so interested in every aspect of our lives and even if His voice has a little sting that may lead to death of self… if we heed his voice, it will eventually lead to resurrection life.
And it’s not only correction that He desires to give. He may want to simply tell us that He loves us. He may want to speak to us about our destiny. He may want to tell us who we are to Him. His voice changes everything. It changes our perception of circumstances, of people… of ourselves.
Listen for the voice every day and it will answer. Trust me.
I feel as though I’ve been buried under rubble all of my life and in the last couple of weeks hope has come and lifted off of me the weight of the world and the even greater wait of hopelessness that has been the tiger on my back all of my life. Part of this lifting began as I hid myself in the secret place; a dark bedroom with a dim lamp, a few candles and the Holy Spirit. Instead of repeating to myself over and over (like I have my entire life) “you’re so stupid”, “you’re worthless” , “you can’t do anything right”, “you’re ugly” and even the weird conundrum of “all you are is a pretty face”… I’m actually praying scripture… truth about who God is… that He is kind, patient, mighty to save, good, generous, attentive, caring and loving. I’ve been praying scriptures about who I am to Him with truth such as “His delight”, “separated and kept”, “dark but lovely”, “the object of His desire”, “belonging to Him”, “recipient of His loving devotion”, “the joy set before Him”, “the apple of His eye”, His special treasure”.
I use to have doubts that tongue held so much power as James 3 speaks about but it really does. Speaking forth truth to a precious God who is attentive and loves hearing our voices does wonders for identity issues. And when we speak these things out and wait to hear His observations on this truth… that’s when He comes. This is when He makes His love known and whispers mysteries that shift things in our hearts. For the first time in my life I’ve been able to separate the truths from the lies as He speaks to me about how He is making me strong. He speaks to me about His great passion to make tragedies into something profoundly breathtaking and glorious and He does not withhold this from anyone who comes to Him in faith. NOT FROM ANYONE (even from me). He loves the great exchange of His life and love for our pain and despair. And He loves weaving it into an ornate tapestry of the charecter of God and His tenderness and kindness and compassion toward human beings.
To end I will share a rather tender dream that I have been holding onto for awhile. In it, I was standing in the back bookstore office talking to a friend and co-worker. There were other people in the room which gave it a “public” feel (which I realized now represents the prayer room). She was rebuking me for speaking rudely and unkindly to someone she loved. In that moment I felt the grief of having caused someone else pain. I repented for my behaviour and became frustrated with myself. I began telling my friend that I was so sorry and explained to her various things that had happened in my childhood and how I still sometimes act out of that deep pain. She started walking out of the room and beckoned me to come follow her. We walked into a hidden storage area (that actually does not exist in reality). She turned around to get something behind her and when she stood to face me again, I could see tears running down her face. She was weeping for me. I could see the compassion in her eyes as she understood and knew the things that I had experienced. She felt my pain. In her hands were a pair of pants and on top of them was my Bible. The dream ended.
I woke up wondering at first what in the world the pants were for. What did all of this mean? As I met her (representing the Holy Spirit) in the secret place she was covering my shame… with TRUTH. I was seeing the Holy Spirit’s compassion over my life and identifying with it in a deep way. Yes… He is wild and untamed but He’s also gentle and tender with our hearts. He “knows we are but dust”. He’s been there and experienced pain much more profoundly than anything we have experienced.
So I had a dream awhile back.
It was shortly after I returned from England. It was very symbolic and I have been dissecting it for months and months when Jesus this weekend gave me some pretty interesting insight on it.
I was a nanny for Paul McCartney and Elizabeth Hurley (don’t laugh).
They were on their honeymoon and we were all together in Egypt.
We are all in a jeep and it is a really hot day.
They hand me their tiny newborn baby to take care of and I take it and walk down the streets of Egypt with it.
I wind up walking right into a city in England. I’m not sure if it was London or not but it was England.
I was on a street lined with shops and the baby is suddenly about 2 or 3 years old.
In this particular part of the city, they were having an art festival.
I went inside a store and it was full of classrooms where people were working on various art projects. I’m carrying this toddler around and we are inspecting all of the art projects.
At the end of the dream I see a closed door and I go to it, curious to see what is inside. When I open the door, my dream ends.
I’ve figured out that Egypt was here in Kansas City. This is my wilderness season. The baby is my vision for London. It was newborn at the time I had my dream. When the baby is older, I figured out this means that I will be in England around the time my vision is about 2 or 3 years old. So basically I’m sticking it out here for 2 or 3 years. Let me tell you… sometimes it sure feels like Egypt here.
What I didn’t understand for a long time was all of the artistic stuff. For one thing I’m carrying the baby of two English celebrities. McCartney, a musician and Hurley an actress. Then I end up in an art festival and then in a store full of classrooms with people working on various art projects.
I believe that when I entered the closed door that this was prayer and intercession. But what is all the rest of it?
Saturday, I woke up with a start. I suddenly realized what this meant… well in part anyway. There is a school in New York City called “The New School”. It’s a place where adults can go and take classes on various things. Anything from dance to history to writing to foreign languages.
If there is anything that that can get the humanistic culture in London to have an interest in the church (other than a sovereign move of the Holy Spirit, which is of course ideal) it’s the arts. My crazy, nutty plan is to eventually start something like “The New School” in London where teachers (who are secretly prophetic messengers) are interacting with adult students daily. In the back of the school somewhere I foresee a furnace of prayer and intercession for the city and small grassroots church plants sprouting in various homes around the city… or maybe just one big one. I don’t know exactly what it’s going to look like yet.
I know I sound like some kind of crazy idealist nutjob but I really think this might be Jesus. There’s no way I could come up with it on my own.
I love that I have Jesus as my best friend.
I get to partner with the resurrected God-man in the lives of people around the world, in the governments of nations, and in my own life. I love that I get to hear and feel what’s on His heart, to experience His affections for me and have a taste of His affections for others. I love that I get to help partner with Him in building His kingdom. I love that I can hear His ideas and see His vision through the written Word. We get to partner with Him in healing broken bodies, in resurrecting the dead, in revealing the Father’s love to orphaned children. Every aspect of this partnership is exciting to me. The prayer part, prophetic part, the healing part, even the discipline part. It all just means that He loves me and I’m His kid and He doesn’t care about how messed up I am because He’s my dad and He loves to hang out with me and teach me new things.
I’ve been finding new ways to pray lately because a lot of times, especially during times of intercession, we forget that it’s really all about Him and His purposes. So I find myself asking Him questions, “what do you have to say, here, Jesus? how do you think I should pray for this?” Now granted, He’s given us freedom and individuality but I’m finding that it’s so much more fun to actually incorporate a conversation with Him into the hours of prayer we spend. So I’ll ask Him questions and then wait in silence (or with the background prophetic worship from the prayer room) and expect Him to answer me because Dad’s don’t ignore their children. So He will and I sense His thoughts towards me and I hear His voice giving me a scripture reference or a phrase to let me know His thoughts on the topic I am praying for. And even if I don’t hear anything, I know He’s there, hanging out with me, enjoying that I am enjoying Him.
Prayer is the most fun.