For the few of you that don’t already know, I’ve started to get training in guitar. For the first week, my fingers were painfully sore. I had large red welts on my finger tips and some of them were forming white blisters. It was incredibly painful to play but I managed to fight through it and eventually started to form calluses on my fingers. These calluses prevented me from feeling the intense pain the steel strings inflicted. I noticed however, in the shower today, that I couldn’t feel anything with these callused fingertips. Now that I’ve started working at a furniture store I can’t even feel the textures on fabrics because of the hardened skin that has dulled my senses.
It made me think about the calluses that can form on our hearts. Years and years of friction and pressure can cause hardness, causing us to feel nothing, including compassion for others. It can keep us shielded from the truth when we should be sensitive to the lies and deception of the enemy. This sort of pressure or friction comes from abuse, mistreatment, or even small areas of neglect during childhood. When the callus of self-protection forms, it blinds us from seeing recurring abuse and mistreatment. The need for relationship and acceptance is still there but the callus formed from this pain prevents us from seeing the abuser or false teacher correctly while assuming this need for relationship is being met.
But the Lord wants us to have tender hearts. We might feel the sting of rejection over and over again but a tender heart will keep us sensitive to His love and manifest presence. A tender heart allows us to hear His voice and receive His Word. A tender heart will cause us to be sensitive to the supernatural world around us and allow us to be able to “see” in order to “fight”. A tender heart allows us to become aware of His protection over our lives.
So I’m beginning a series that Mike Bickle taught on the Life of David. You can find these teachings HERE. I’m putting my Jeremiah studies on the back-burner for awhile because I feel that I am in a season where I could learn a lot from this great King of Israel. So though I am going to get right back into Jeremiah when I’m done, I felt like this study is a necessary precursor.
I think a lot of times we can see something that is truth… but our reaction will still not be a godly reaction because our heart is not aligned with His. In his first session, Mike talks about how David first and foremost had a revelation of God’s heart and an understanding of what God’s heart is like. And because of this, He had a desire to obey God’s heart. That makes sense, you know? Before we can be really obedient to God, we need to really understand how God feels and what His heart is for the situations and people around us. An understanding of His heart is the motivation we need to remain in obedience. If we don’t carry ourselves with the heart of God, even though we may be walking in truth, we can do more damage than good in some cases. I know I have been guilty of this. It’s human nature and that’s why our lives have to be a constant discovery of the facets of who God really is.
Saul and David were two very different characters in the history of Israel. As Bickle explains, Saul was a form of judgment on the nation of Israel for walking outside the will of God. They demanded a king before it was time for them to have a king and thus were rewarded with a demonized king. God already had in mind to put David on the throne because He knew that David had a heart after Him. However, God used the tyranny of Saul as a training period for David to be the best King he could be. Good leaders are often bred under situations like David’s. How absolutely terrifying this truth is! The trick here is to make sure that our heart for the Lord remains the same as David’s does during those awful periods of time. David made a lot of mistakes during this time but when he made mistakes his grief was more about how he had offended God than how he had been exposed… which was very unlike Saul’s reaction who really just cared about preserving himself.
Today I was talking with Linda, one of my spiritual moms from IHOP and she, who is a violin player, told me that the Lord has been speaking to her about joining a worship team again. The Lord specifically told her whose team she needed to be on… though the person was not even leading a team yet. Two weeks after the Lord spoke this to her, the person whom the Lord spoke to her about started a worship team. She thought this was a sign from the Lord, for sure. When she emailed the person and asked them if she could join their team, they responded that since their team was so new, they didn’t want to establish more members then they could handle. Linda was disappointed because she felt this was positively from the Lord. But she spoke to me something that made practical sense: “just because you feel like something is from the Lord, doesn’t mean that you or anyone else doesn’t have a choice in the matter. It’s okay to say no and it’s okay to move on if someone else says no. The Lord doesn’t always give us just one option.” Little did she know what had been on my mind for the past couple of weeks.
For months I’ve been getting the same prophetic word from one of my spiritual fathers– “Brooke. The Lord is going to surprise you. You have a choice and the Lord wants you to know that you can’t mess this up.” I guess there is the security factor that I like… I like it when the Lord speaks to me very clearly about things but I think what makes God such a great Father is that He gives us options… he lets us have a choice… we can disobey Him and choose the wrong thing but I think that He often asks us what we want… like, “Brooke… do you want the pink dress or the white dress…” both are good options… and would be good choices, but He wants us to really want what we choose. We actually get a say in things sometimes. This is part of what makes life with God such an adventure.
The mark of surrender is handing our hearts and our lives over to the non-precarious hands of Jesus. It shouldn’t be scary but for some of us it is frightening. To wander this long journey in blind faith, trusting that His hand is guiding us through the night fog isn’t the easiest position to be in. For a select few it takes us several attempts of “putting our hands in it” before we fall face first.
Two years ago I had a dream about three trains. The first two trains represented two different people from my past. I ran across the train tracks as I saw the first train approach. I was sure that this train was the train that my friend was on and ran toward it even as it was moving swiftly to it’s destination. But instead of slowing down, it sped right past me without even blinking and almost knocked me to the ground. I turned and saw another train moving quickly toward me. It was moving even faster, charging ahead as if nothing could stop it. And nothing could; not even myself. I tried to flag it down but it moved on without me, almost killing me as it made it’s way along. Finally, I conceded and realized my attempts to stop a train on my own were not realistic. I made my way to the platform where others were waiting for their loved ones. Standing there, I wouldn’t get hurt. Standing on this firm place, I would be safe. After a short while I saw a third train enclosed in a steady cloud of steam. It was moving more slowly than the other trains and I was eager for it to arrive but this time I didn’t run after the train; I stayed in my spot, waiting. I didn’t have to direct the train, I only had to stand there and trust that the right train would come when it was ready to. I didn’t have to chase after it because if I did, I would only be risking my life (and probably my heart). At the end of the dream, I was still standing on the platform when the third train pulled right up to me and I was standing in front of the door, patiently waiting for my “friend” to appear.
For the past four years I have been standing on this platform. It has been a good four years. I’ve learned to follow the leading of the Holy Spirit and obey Him (mostly) when He asks me to do or not to do something. I haven’t always been perfect with this but each time I make a mistake, I learn something new about the person of God and just how trustworthy He is. I’ve learned to be content and be satisfied with my relationship with the Jesus. I enjoy being single and have learned to take advantage of my independence. I have allowed the Lord to do a deep healing in my life from a past severely unhealthy relationship. I haven’t been perfected yet. I still have insecurity. I still struggle with trusting other people. I still wrestle with fear. I still fight against shame and inadequacy and unworthiness. I’m human but one thing I do know is that God is for me. He is has no plans to harm me but desires to give me a “hope and a future”. He loves me and wants good things for me and it’s not dependent on anything that I do for Him. I don’t have to pay Him anything for His love and care and guidance. He is a good Father and He loves to do this.
Surrender is a constant, daily task that all of us must submit to. Some things are harder to surrender than other things. The other night I had to surrender something again that I have had to surrender many other times before but it is something that never gets easier with time. It’s not that the Lord is forbidding something in the future, it’s just that He doesn’t want me to hope in something that is not Him… He is who I put my trust in. Human beings fail, but He never does. After I made the decision to once again say “Yes” to Him I had yet another dream that is similar in nature to the earlier train dream.
I was driving down a dark road (ahem, how cliché). The night was so incredibly pitch black that I couldn’t even see the outline of the road. It was terrifying but somehow my car was able to stay on the road without driving into some abyss. Suddenly, I come upon a group of large potholes in front of me and somehow drove around or through them without damaging my car or myself. I drove on, still in darkness, when I instantly notice a fire raging in the middle of the road. I quickly maneuver around or through the fire without singeing anything on my car or causing any kind of explosion. I again, continue on the dark road, still unable to see anything at all when I get an epiphany: just turn on the lights, Brooke! I flip a switch in the dashboard of my car and the whole road is illuminated in front of me.
In that moment when we truly, in our hearts, give our lives, dreams, aspirations and hopes up and let the Spirit of God rule us, understanding and light make a way for us to see situations and relationships more clearly. Blind faith, actually creates room for revelation. Revelation of who God is and where He wants us and where our lives are really headed.
I don’t want to view my current circumstances through the lens of my past any longer. Surrender is a beautiful gift from God that eliminates our false notions and perceptions. It cuts away preconceived and judgmental thoughts that cloud our reason leaving us with only His leadership and our God-given wisdom.
Surrender is gloriously painful and painfully glorious.
There is this girl that has been making my life miserable lately. I blame her for the misery she has put me in for the past 29 years. She is insecure, a control-freak and way too needy. Her influence on my life has lessened dramatically in the past five years but the residue of her mistakes continue to show up occasionally and it has become rather annoying. This girl’s name is Eve (last name unknown). She existed probably about 6,000 years ago and I really don’t understand what her problem was because she got to walk with God (yes God) in the “cool of the day.” She literally got to hear His voice every day and have actual audible conversation with Him. Not only that but she lived in the most beautiful place that has ever existed alongside a handsome man who became her covenant partner for life. I’m pretty sure they had an almost perfect relationship. What would a girl give to just know that this “was the one” because, well, God plainly told her that he was “the one”. No guessing games… no games at all. Just love and romance and no sin to mess any of it up… yet.
Well, one day in the garden of Eden (think, rain forest with no humidity), Eve feels that familiar tummy grumble. She saunters up to a nearby fruit tree and then remembers… “oops. I’m not suppose to eat fruit from this tree. God said.” But before she has a chance to get the heck out of there this slimeball serpant hisses menacingly at her. Eve is decieved into thinking that even with her perfect body and her perfect mind, she is not “enough”. Not only is she not “enough” but God is holding out on her. He’s withholding good things from her. With all of that time hanging out with God, you would think Eve would know His charecter a little better than that.
So Eve decides to take her life into her own hands. She disobeys, believing that her ways are higher than His and not the other way around. This desire to control her own life results in disastor for all of humanity, especially for the female species. God curses Eve and in verse 16 of Chapter 3 it says “and your desire will be for your husband and he will rule over you.” Researching the word “desire” in the Hebrew I discovered that it’s real meaning is “be determined to assert our will over”. In other words… “our desire will be to control.” I was a little offended upon first reading this. I don’t think of myself as a control freak and to be perfectly honest, I’ve wondered at times if I’m a little too laid back about things. But as I talked to the Holy Spirit about this I recognized many ways in which subtle control had taken precedence in my life. I’ve manipulated, competed with other girls, acted out of insecurity… all familiar behaviors of most of the women I have ever known.
So what does this mean? Does it mean I have to live under this blasted curse for the rest of my life? Ummm…. no! Because, you see there was this amazing man that suffered and died and shed his blood so that I didn’t have to live under the curse anymore. Yes, we can still decide to live under the affects of the curse if we allow ourselves to, but we don’t have to.
We women have a bad case of mistaken identity. 2 Peter 1:3 says that God “has given us everthing pertaining to life and godliness”. We have the best that we can have and He is offering it to us on a silver platter. We need to stop insisting that our way is the best because… hello?… I’m pretty sure that God, glorious and majestic, has way way better stuff for us than what we can get for ourselves.
We also need to stop thinking that we aren’t enough! Hebrews 12:2 says that “for the joy set before Him, He endured the cross, despising the shame.” We are the joy that was set before Him. To Him, we are worth His suffering, worth His shame and even worth being seperated from His Father for a time. We are worth EVERYTHING to Him.
So it is time to give Him our lives and let Him have control. We obviously aren’t doing a good job trying to figure things out on our own. We’re only causing a greater rift in our relationships with both men AND women.
In Song of Songs we see this amazing relationship between a bride and her husband. It starts out a little shaky. There are a few times that she wants to do things her way. In chapter 2 she says, “you go on without me while I sit here under this apple tree and do things the way I want to do them”. So He does. He heads over to the mountains without her and lets her be by herself for awhile and the favor and protection lifts off of her and she realizes that there is no way on earth she could ever live her life without Him. What was she thinking? We see this a couple of times. She tries to take control and then she has to learn the hard way. It’s when she reaches Chapter 8 that I become a little jealous: “who is this coming up from the wilderness, leaning on her beloved?” She finally gets it. And then in the preceding verses she discovers an unrelenting, unquenchable love full of desire and passion that will satisfy her for eternity.
It is in that moment when we finally give up trying to find “the best” that we discover all that our heart’s are longing for. It is in that moment when we forfeit control that we learn to fall in love with the One God intended, the One who’s love is perfect and fully satisfying.
Two years ago I had a dream.
I was running to the train station to meet a friend. As I sprinted across the tracks I saw a massive, powerful train blazing forward. I thought for sure this was the train that my friend was on and I raced toward the train even as it failed to slow down. Just in time, I noticed the train would hurt me and before I was crushed to death I spun out of the way, realizing that it contained betrayal, manipulation, control and abuse.
The next train was not as impressive, but still, I thought for sure this would be “the one”. It was moving fast as well but as I stepped closer to the train, I noticed that the train was full of passivity and disrespect. I moved out of the way just in time.
I decided after the second fiasco that it was better to go wait at the train station than to risk running recklessly across the train tracks looking for my friend. So I positioned myself in a safe place and saw in the distance… the last train. It was moving more slowly but there was peace hovering around it. I waited patiently and the train eventually pulled to a stop where I stood expectantly outside the door, waiting for my friend to get off.
I realize that I have come to a point where though I wish I hadn’t made the mistakes I have made, I have been given an opportunity to share the wisdom I have learned with young women.
We as women, because of our vulnerable hearts, are easy targets for bad relationships. In my own experience, I have turned a blind eye to many “red flags” and turned away from wisdom because I didn’t remember how deceitful my heart was. The Word of God is a useful tool in discernment regarding relationships: “Love is patient, love is kind, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.” 1 Corinthians 13.
This week I had an opportunity to make a comparison. (Before you jump to conclusions, I am NOT dating anyone nor do I believe that anyone is in love with me– based on the verse above… nor am I in love with anyone. Blogs are how rumors get started.) The first person, though we have been friends for awhile (on and off) and have sort of an awkward history, I noticed, rather annoyingly this week that I was feeling manipulated by this person. I noticed that this person had indeed not been kind, dishonored me, had only thought of himself, had not protected me (though at that point I had been over our awkward history for a year) and certainly had not persevered by pursuing me in a godly way… and he suddenly wants to reconcile his behavior two months before I leave the state. How convenient for him.
The second person? Well, I’m not ready to say anything too specific but I have observed, so far as I can tell, kindness, patience, humility, and most importantly the protection of my heart as a brother in Christ. Because this friend demonstrated these qualities to me, I was able to recognize the deception (easily) in the other friendship.
Another truth that has struck my heart recently is the need for longing in my relationship with Jesus. This year has been one of the most fruitful, giddy-in-love years of my life. It has been an extremely dry season in regard to romantic relationships but in that, I have discovered my need for Jesus far out-weighs my angst with boys.
The truth is, a healthy romantic relationship is IMPOSSIBLE without truly giving our hearts to Jesus first. I personally believe it’s so important for young women, especially teenage girls (and guys for that matter) to give a few years getting to know the Man Jesus before walking into a relationship. Jesus needs to be the standard that we should be looking for in a dude and without knowing what that standard looks like, without knowing His heart, it is virtually impossible to recognize these qualities in someone else AS WELL AS obtaining these own qualities in ourselves.
A few weeks ago I scribbled down the last entry on a journal I’ve had for the last three years. I’ve kept a journal since I was nine years old. I have quite a few of them, however, many of them are lost which is a little frightening considering how the journals contain deeply personal information. I remember buying this specific journal and I remember God telling me that once I started writing in this journal, it would mark a new journey in my life. I knew the journal itself had to be a really cool one. It was covered in shiny, purple fabric and had a cool Indian beaded design on it. I started the journal in late January of 2006 when I first decided to head to IHOP and become an intern at FITN. I knew my life was going to be a little different after I came back after the first 3 month track but what I didn’t know at the time was how drastically my life would be altered by my experience in the nightwatch and how in fact I knew I would never be coming back to Dallas again (except maybe to visit). Well I am still here, 3 years later and there have been moments where I have pleaded with God to let me go back to D-Town but over and over he has made it perfectly clear I am suppose to stay here. Though it is still a painful experience being here, I am realizing more and more how much I love this place.
A new journal always means transition with me. I’m excited to see what happens in this next phase of my life.
On Fridays I have been taking a class at FSM, taught by Shelley Hundley called “Prophesying in the End-Times”. I, unfortunately, had to skip class last week because of sickness but the week before Shelley shared a word that she felt for the class. We were to be Hannah’s and intercede for the Samuels, the prophets to come forth at IHOP. She shared how there should be a groan in our spirits for others to surpass us in our prophetic giftings. I realized after Shelley’s talk that I didn’t have that groan but the conviction didn’t come right away.
My apartment has been pretty silent lately. I’ve gotten rid of most electronic equipment that can “noise-up” my apartment. I didn’t get rid of it because I thought it was evil or because I was being legalistic… I have been desparate to hear from God. I’ve been desperate to encounter Him. I’ve also realized why I went to movies, TV and the surfing the net way more often than I should. What God had to say to me in the silence was uncomfortable.
After Shelley’s class, I went back home to my noiseless apartment. It’s funny how God speaks to us while we’re making dinner or doing something totally mundane… as long as it’s done in silence. Well, I was in my kitchen, fixing a salad when the Lord started to speak to me about a specific person here at IHOP… and about my own heart. The Lord spoke to me about praying for this person to grow in the prophetic gift and to be an intercessor for them. I felt a grumble in my spirit and that is when God started to show me, layer by layer areas of pride in my heart. The Lord began showing me how I had a competitive spirit with this person in the area of the prophetic. He showed me how He had intentionally recognized this person in my presence many times and had not recognized me to expose pride and envy in my heart. Jesus help me to take the lowest seat so that You can be made first.
A few days after this I was riding in a car with another friend when she asked me if I would share a dream I had recently. So I began sharing it with her and was hurt by her reaction to the dream. The dream was about my destiny and the promises of God in my life and she reacted as if she couldn’t believe anyone like me could ever be used of God in this way. So how did I respond? I argued with her about this. I showed her the many other confirmations the Lord had given me about this. I was deeply offended in my heart that she felt this way about me.
Again, the next day, I was in my kitchen when the Lord brought that scenario up. Ugggghhhhh…. here we go again. Why did I feel the need to argue about this with someone? The Lord was again exposing pride and arrogance in my heart. Not only that, but He began showing me that I needed to be very careful about who I shared His secrets with and the motivations behind sharing them in the first place.
So I’m buckling my seatbelt and allowing Holy Spirit to “catch the foxes that ruin the vines” but learning to do this while leaning in love.
Cheers to the new journal phase.