Saturday, February 25, 2012

(day eighty-five) Are you hungry enough to face the depths of the great and mysterious sea?

I'm not gonna lie, today has certainly been a battle. It started with staying up till the wee hours of the morning writing a blog I may never post. I've felt an anxiousness I haven't felt in a long time and I'm not sure why. Earthly matters don't seem to have a troublesome effect on me anymore... but when I feel as though the enemy is truly out to get me, a girl can get a little overwhelmed you know? As hard as it is for me right now, i know that THIS is exactly what I'm supposed to write about.

Have you ever felt anxious, afraid, alone? I mean... like when all distractions of this world are removed, when you have nothing else to set your mind at ease. The moment when there is absolutely nothing YOU can DO. When all is still and completely quiet around you... do you FEEL God? ( I am beginning to sense the breakthrough for me even as I write...)

For years I was afraid to even tread to these deep waters at the thought of drowning, so I kept my floaties on and simply ignored the beckoning of my creator to explore the depths of my soul and the great mystery of His love. If you really think about the ocean, it's a little bit frightening. There is so much we don't know, but we do know that it has the potential of swallowing us up... this fear paralyzes us. So... instead of facing this deep calling we stay where it's safe. "As long as my toes can still touch bottom and I can see through the water clearly," we stubbornly yet justifiably protest!

Love, encouragement, proper education, family vacations, bible stories, comfortable worship, and mission trips were weaved throughout my childhood. My future began to be shaped by a culture who decided what they thought was best for me because it did not challenge the open sea. "You are welcome to be a this or a that, but make sure you fit in with the rest," they all projected. As soon as all of the securities, insurances, and invisible walls were built... I didn't even realize something greater existed.

Over time I became hungry for more. When this happens we have a choice. Do we follow the crowd and be satisfied with the food they are feeding us, or do we search for more? Do we seek out the Creator of it ALL in the depths of the ocean so many of us forget exists... for an exotic love and passion like the mysteries that lay buried deep inside the unfathomable capacity of God's very existence? Or do we simply stay safely put... waiting for someone else to tell us what's out there, what they see, how it feels, and if it's really worth it?

I was there, but I became hungry. I became so hungry for the depths that I had to see for myself. We are all beckoned to this place, but not all will decide to go... for whatever reason. For those who do go... don't count on them coming back. Sure they may send you messages in a bottle telling you of the massive love they are encountering... and possibly sharing of some of their lonely times as well. The truth is... nothing can come close to comparing to what God has in store for us when we completely abandon everything at the shore and dive into the great majesty of who He really is.

I'm reminded of the old hymn:
  1. O soul, are you weary and troubled?
    No light in the darkness you see?
    There’s light for a look at the Savior,
    And life more abundant and free!
    • Refrain:
      Turn your eyes upon Jesus,
      Look full in His wonderful face,
      And the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
      In the light of His glory and grace.
  2. Through death into life everlasting
    He passed, and we follow Him there;
    O’er us sin no more hath dominion—
    For more than conqu’rors we are!
  3. His Word shall not fail you—He promised;
    Believe Him, and all will be well:
    Then go to a world that is dying,
    His perfect salvation to tell!

If you are hungry and you seek Him with that hunger... you will never be disappointed. Graham Cooke says that there are two ways God reveals himself to us- hiddenness and manifestation. During hiddenness we may not feel Him, but He's doing something deep inside that's worth the wait. During those times He calls us to be faithful and obedient following Him and worshipping Him for who He says He is... not just for who we feel Him to be.

Some of us are experiencing this right now as I speak. About a year ago I did... I felt so alone and scared, like I'd been abandoned by God. Even so... I praised Him for who He was, fought to see the good and purpose in everything, consistently read the truth and his promises, and searched for more. I wanted to give up so many times, but He assured me He was present through what I knew of His character. Some moments that's the only tiny thread I could hold on to to survive.... but I wasn't about to trade in my deep sea experience for those floaties I had so long ago left behind.

Around the middle of 2011 I began to come out of that dark time... and as I carefully stepped into the next season I started to see what God had done in the hiddenness. Now, I'd have to say that I am fully experiencing the manifestation of the Lord in my life like never before. The ocean has become my playground searching out the greatest depths of His love and mystery with no fear because of the things He was revealing to my soul in the darkness. I'm hearing His voice clearer than ever, seeing more miracles, having more revelations, feeling more of His love, and experiencing more of His glory.

I want you to know this because I realized something so important during all of this that I hope is encouragement for you wherever you are in this story. He was not ever withholding his love from me... but while I was wondering where He was, and having to choose to follow Him regardless of what I was feeling, He was quietly removing the hinderances of my soul so that I could receive even more of the love that constantly flows from our magnificent Creator.

Just a few days ago... a close relative of mine experienced something very similar. For years He's felt abandoned by God... but stayed hungry and fought for every bit of truth, holding on to God's promises until his fingers bled. I've hardly seen a man go through all he has, except for Job in the bible... and maybe a few others. Our family prayed and prayed and prayed that He would SEE God at work in his life. We knew God was up to something, but were also frightened that at any moment he would give up the fight, let go of his hunger, and drown in his own despair. Very recently he was driving in his car and felt the holy spirit's presence undoubtedly with Him. For the first time in years he clearly heard the Lord say, "I am with you, I've always been with you... nothing else matters but my relationship with you, and you are going to be ok."

An instantaneous peace rushed through his body like he'd never felt in his life and He knew the Lord was truly with Him. The next day he was bent over with pain, but drove to the hospital further away to be closer to home. They did an emergency surgery and simply because the grace and power of God found a growth that had been causing so much pain throughout his body for years. He had so many symptoms and was on many drugs to treat these things no one could really explain. That one thing was hindering His body from working the way it was designed to.

As God was working deep inside the his soul removing hinderances... preparing Him to be used so greatly in the kingdom, he had no choice but to push through the darkness and the pain. He was not going to give up the fight. It is of no coincidence that hours after God began to reveal what He's been doing in this weary man, He shows him physically by allowing doctors to pull out a hinderance that's been causing so much pain and sorrow. All of the details surrounding this event are so astonishing that they can hardly be described with words.

I pray God uses our stories to speak to you clearly today. Here are some encouraging things to ponder:

1- If you are satisfied with the safe place close to the shore, please ask for a desire to be hungry for more of him.
2- If you are hungry, ask for courage to swim out into the deep places of His heart.
3- If you find yourself abandoned in that deep place... be encouraged that God is doing something hidden in you that is so great and so revolutionary that you might interfere if you knew what it was... or refuse and swim back to shore. Don't give up!!! He is with you, you must be faithful... what will come from this is greater than you could ever imagine.
4- If you are basking in the depths right now- enjoy! Fill up your storehouses and stay faithful to him in these times. It's so easy to become distracted with other things again... but He wants to use you to be a ray of His light, a vessel of His love and a temple for His holiness and glory.

Whatever place you find yourself in is an opportunity for you to be a testimony of His love, grace, forgiveness, and truth. He will never leave you or forsake you... in fact, the moment you turn to Him is the moment He runs after you. In the kingdom of heaven we will never be bored... there is always more love, more mystery, more adventure, more grace, more of HIM. Please don't just let someone tell you about it... experience and know it for yourself. Right this moment it doesn't matter if you go to church, how many things you're involved with or what you've promised you'd do.... He's looking for HUNGRY people. Are you hungry for Him alone?

Watch this video and just sit and reflect for a bit on how DEEP and wide is His love for you.

B90 (Colossians 1- 1 Timothy 6:21):

"if indeed you continue with the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven..." col 1:23

"Set your minds on the things of Christ that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, the you also will appear with him in glory." col 3: 2 & 3

"Let the word of Christ dwell within you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.... and whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." col 3: 16 & 17

I just keep thinking about us being hidden in Christ and him in us. What does that really mean? What does it look like? Wow... how amazing that when we get this... we see that when he who is in us appears, we also will appear with him. And as He is "dwelling" in us richly He is doing things in us we could never fathom... but let us continue to praise Him through it all because He is worthy!!!!

"And we urge you brothers, admonish the idle, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak, be patient with them all. See that no one repays anyone evil for evil, but always seek to do good to one another and to everyone. Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not despise prophecies, but test everything; hold fast what is god. Abstain from every form of evil. Now may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. he who calls you is faithful; he will surely do it." 1 Thes. 5: 14- 24

And lastly... I pray God speaks to the very depths of your soul as He has captivated mine through these words: "Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. I charge you in the presence of God, who gives us life to all things... to keep the commandment unstained and free from reproach until the appearing of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will display at the proper time- he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords, who alone has immortality who DWELLS in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see..." 1 Tim 6:11- 16

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