One of my favorite photos of me as a baby. 🙂
Sometimes I wish upon everything to have the child-like faith I once possessed. I think sometimes it’s easier for kids to understand more about the Kingdom of God than we adults do. Sometimes I feel like I need to strip off all the things I’ve “learned” that have led to self-righteousness at times and go back to the foundation that caused me to hunger for God in the first place. I’ve shared some of my desire for God at a young age due to my mom’s hunger for Him and her constant prayers over my siblings and me, but God really made Himself and His love known to insignificant me when He healed my collarbone at a young age.
When I was a young kid-I’m guessing 6 or 7, the two neighborhood boys my age and I were taking turns on the slide. Of course, as it is with kids, they got so excited about going down that one of them started getting way too pushy. I wanted to go backwards that time and asked if he could scoot back, but instead he pushed me off. I still remember glimpses during that time (almost as if I had an out of body experience where I can still see my mom looking out at me through the kitchen window and almost as though I can see myself falling from her point of view). With the weird angle of being mid-trying to turn around, I fell on my collarbone. At the time, my dad thought I was just making a big deal out of nothing, and moved my collarbone that I told him I could not move on my own when he asked. Of course, I screamed like a baby. I remember them temporarily setting it and later wheeling me into St. Francis hospital since any movement was painful with all that the collarbone’s connected to, only to hear the dr. say that it was broken so badly, it may never fully heal. My mom had a habit of going to a Word of Life Church (or Word Alive?) occasionally in addition to the church I regularly went to and brought me with her that night. It was no accident-purely Spirit-led as they ended up having a video (yes, at the time, it truly was still called a video) they played with a TV and VCR they had wheeled in.
I still remember watching what the Holy Spirit was doing in the country that was being shown. After turning their country over to God, they had huge vegetables the size of people’s arms and bigger where there was once a famine and as I was watching it, my faith in God grew knowing that if He could do that for them then surely He could heal my arm; and when that happened, I remember getting feeling in my what-was-then-casted arm and lifted up my arm in the middle of the video, shouting, “God healed me!” I still remember the whole crowd of people at that church coming around me and praising God for healing me!
I had a huge desire to share how good God was after that. I told the neighborhood boys all about Him and invited them to church with me; but after a while, while I still had a huge desire for God, my experience and the things I saw around me didn’t seem to line up. While I learned more about God and the life He calls us to live in the Baptist school I went to, I had forgotten His great love for me and dwelt more on all the things I could or should be doing for Him. I grew insecure in His love and tried to earn it by living the best I knew how and when I still wasn’t confident in it, I lost my desire to live. Even at a young age, I struggled greatly with depression and sought to find purpose in life.
It wasn’t until I was 12 1/2, the youngest allowed to go to a church camp to Philly we called boot camp that I was reminded of God’s great love for me, was filled with the Holy Spirit and true Joy, and was given a reason for living. This was my first poem I wrote after being filled with the Holy Spirit when I was 12. I saw others who reminded me of my passion when I was younger, and it made me yearn for that again. I can’t even begin to tell you how many times God showed up on my behalf and made Himself known to me since then-sometimes even in the smallest answers to prayer. From healing me of a sudden-popped out jaw during boot camp that was hurting immensely, to ANY time I needed $5 for a meal at work & didn’t have cash for it (I used a debit card for everything)-sometimes I would just happen to get 5 different random people tipping me $1 each when nobody usually liked paying more than the then $19 charge to park and was told nobody tips garage cashiers to a stranger handing me $5 just in time or even someone dropping off a meal & telling me I didn’t need to pay, to a reader of my old blog I didn’t know who was on the other side of the country saying she felt like God wanted her and her husband to give me their tithing money of $200 that week after my sister said THAT day she could come to my high school graduation if I could get half the plane ticket that would cost $400 & I never told her I needed that amount, but she had sent me a $200 cashier check just in time. I’ve mentioned before how my husband and I had a really rocky relationship for years, but I knew that God brought us together from Him answering some crazy prayers I had from years before I met my husband where I had asked God to specifically lead my husband to do different things in a time of confusion in past relationships and we had many prophecies as well from different churches and people that didn’t know our situation that only confirmed us being together. God knew I needed every singly one of those confirmations during the rough years and I can’t thank Him enough for giving them to me or for helping us get to the place we are now that I had lost all hope for. There were so many more that I could go on and on.
Life definitely wasn’t “easy” growing up-in fact God seemed to show up most in the most difficult times, but He made Himself so real to me and gave me a reason for being and true joy in the midst of some of the hardest times during my teen years. I never doubted that God answered prayers or that He was real because of how real He made Himself on my behalf, and I knew it was all due to Him and His goodness. I couldn’t take any of the credit. I wasn’t anyone special, and I knew He wanted to answer prayers and be that real for everyone and loved sharing Him with anyone I came across. I wrote Him almost daily in my journal-a continual reminder of His goodness in answering prayers, would dance in worship to Him in my room and even at a Spirit-led Tuesday night worship service at my church I often walked to, and read the Bible for fun as I loved hearing from Him and knowing all I could about Him.
Around that time, I prayed that God would do whatever it takes for me to become even closer to Him. I wanted all He had to offer, to grow closer to Him than ever before. I shared some of my struggles since then, but not all. Along the way, I lost a lot of my child-like faith in Him and saw a huge decrease in my prayers being answered. After almost a decade of feeling like I screwed up too much for God to accept me after being so close and turning my eyes more on my circumstances than on Him, God has been reaching out to me in ways only He could. For the past year, God has been revealing so many things I’ve allowed to get between us. Most Christians might say these things are good as outwardly I continued to try to do a lot for Him and others and didn’t rock the boat so to speak, but as I’ve shared, a lot of it has come from an insecurity in His love for me-almost as though I felt like I could earn His love if I just tried harder or did more. But I know better now-or at least I’m re-learning that NOTHING I can do can earn His love. I already have it. You already have it. We just need to accept it and walk in His love for us and walk out His love for others continually reminding ourselves of all He’s done for us and where we were without Him. Only then will our love not grow cold. Only then can we sustain a faith-filled walk seeing Him answer prayers on our behalf. Only when we fix our eyes on Him and His goodness and remember where we came from and share our stories/testimonies, knowing He wants to do for others what He’s done for us, and sharing what He’s laid on our hearts for others through seeing them through His eyes can we be effective in our walk towards Him. Everything else just leads to self-righteousness and makes us think that we’re better than others who are struggling in other areas than we do or makes us feel like we can earn His love by something we do because we aren’t already secure in His love. Trust me, I’ve been there for so long. I’m not entirely sure I’m completely out of that mindset yet as it seems to be a continual struggle for me, but I don’t plan on stopping here. I know there’s more out there- and He is so much more real and powerful and amazing and awesome than we could ever imagine because I’ve only seem glimpses and tasted samplings and it’s always enough to lead me to come back for more. 🙂
I read these verses this morning:
Mark 16:14-20 New King James Version (NKJV)
The Great Commission
14 Later He appeared to the eleven as they sat at the table; and He rebuked their unbelief and hardness of heart, because they did not believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. 15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature. 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. 17 And these signs will follow those who believe: In My name they will cast out demons; they will speak with new tongues; 18 they[a] will take up serpents; and if they drink anything deadly, it will by no means hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover.”
Christ Ascends to God’s Right Hand
19 So then, after the Lord had spoken to them, He was received up into heaven, and sat down at the right hand of God. 20 And they went out and preached everywhere, the Lord working with them and confirming the word through the accompanying signs. Amen.
A few things popped out at me that I put in bold. First off, Jesus rebuked the unbelief and hardness of heart of those who didn’t believe those who had seen Him after He had risen. Then He told them to go into ALL the WORLD and preach the GOSPEL to every creature. Then, it says that whoever believes and is baptized will be saved and that these signs will follow those who believe- in Jesus’ name, we will cast out demons, speak with new tongues, take up serpents, if we drink anything deadly, it will not hurt us, and we will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. A couple verses later, it shares that as they preached EVERYwhere, the Lord worked WITH them and CONFIRMED the Word (His Word will not return void) through the accompanying signs-all the signs He said would follow those who believe.
It just makes my heart cry out, “Oh God, help my unbelief!” Like I said, the more I struggled and focused my eyes on my circumstances rather than on God, the less I saw my prayers answered. However, I know there’s more out there because not only does God say there is, but also because I’ve experienced it. I’ve been so blessed to visit a few churches this past year-a couple in Minnesota and 1 here and am always so blessed to read and hear what’s going on at Bethel Church in Redding, CA where God has been moving and confirming His Word with accompanying signs and my heart has been burning within me for that again and let’s just say, the tears have flown freely during those times causing a desire and passion for God that had been dormant for some time. I’ve heard from many and read articles saying that we should be happy with JUST the Word of God and how anyone who’s not satisfied with that is just looking to be entertained, yet Jesus Himself said the accompanying signs followed those who believed. Also, in Matthew He said how if the mighty works/miracles had been done in Tyre and Sidon and Sodom as they were done in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, they would have repented long ago in sackcloth and ashes and remained ’til that day and their-Tyre, Sidon, and Sodom’s (very wicked places) judgment would be more tolerable than those cities He performed mighty works in that weren’t turning their hearts towards Him. There’s just something about God moving and confirming His Word with signs that shows people His realness and His heart towards them that they cannot deny is God and it makes them face their Maker. Without it, we’ve only reduced the gospel to mere words. God is looking for true worshipers who will worship Him in Spirit and Truth. He inhabits the praises of His people. He desires to make Himself known to us.
Jesus says to the Pharisees in John 5:
36 But I have a greater witness than John’s; for the works which the Father has given Me to finish—the very works that I do—bear witness of Me, that the Father has sent Me. 37 And the Father Himself, who sent Me, has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time, nor seen His form. 38 But you do not have His word abiding in you, because whom He sent, Him you do not believe. 39 You search the Scriptures, for in them you think you have eternal life; and these are they which testify of Me. 40 But you are not willing to come to Me that you may have life. 41 “I do not receive honor from men. 42 But I know you, that you do not have the love of God in you.
Sometimes I just wonder if we limit God because the circumstances of our lives have drawn us away from keeping our eyes on Him that we no longer truly believe He’s alive today and still wanting to make Himself known and is bigger than His Word. Sometimes I wonder if we’ve forgotten His love for us and go back to trying to earn His love by the things we do and no longer have the love of God in us just like the Pharisees lacked it. We always equate the scribes and Pharisees to hypocrites and horrid men-after all, Jesus called them hypocrites, but do we ever see ourselves in them? These guys, while we know what the Bible says about them, knew Scriptures-shoot, the scribes were the only ones who were taught to read and write, they loved money, and justified themselves before men, but God said He knew their hearts and what is highly esteemed among men is an abomination to God. Are we ever like that? Am I ever like that? Do I try to justify myself before men and reduce God to Scriptures instead of allowing Scriptures to point me to Him Who gives life? Do I forget all He’s done for me and lose sight of His love for me and others? Do I try to live and hold others to an impossible standard to earn His love rather than allowing His Spirit to take root in my heart and bear His fruit? Do I readily accept His Kingdom as a child does or do I look at those who are seeing the fruit of His Spirit and His mighty works with envy and turn it into skepticism all in the name of Christianity? If anything, as far as I can tell, skepticism and unbelief are the opposite of what Jesus taught and out of the mouths of babes and nursing infants He has ordained strength and perfected praise. May God give us the faith, strength, and praise of a child who readily acknowledges and accepts Him.
If you want to be really challenged and encouraged, you should watch this:
Sunday Morning 1/25/15-Bethel sermon