A reality hit me pretty hard this week and I had to wrestle through it with the Lord, because it truly grieved my heart. I’m beginning to wonder if more people than not believe that God can’t do anything and everything He wants to? I'm not talking about those of us who struggle with big faith because it's hard, or those who don't understand or even know about it. I'm talking about those who know God, know scripture but stop short of believing His power could exist in our lives. Over and over this week I heard accounts of pastors who put God in a small, undersized box and called it truth. A belief they hold and speak out that, as it hits my ears, sounds very much like “God’s power isn’t alive and active, at least for us, now.” They're speaking of the kind of power that comes in dreams and in miracles, in healings and in scripture that jumps off the page and becomes reality. And so, as they speak, I hear - “That simply doesn’t exist anymore. That was then, this is now.” And it makes my heart ache and tears spring to my eyes. Because the God I know and love is alive. He is active. He is that big. He is that capable. The God I know and love desires deeply for us to see, hear and feel everything in and through His Spirit. And it's so incredibly sad to me to even have a thought that He doesn’t love us every bit as much as He loved the people who came before us. Why is it that we can accept the fact that He loved the Israelites enough to follow them by day and night in a pillar of cloud and fire, that He loved Moses enough to speak instructions to him through a burning bush and that He loved Saul enough to speak to him on a road to Damascus? Or that He loved His disciples and countless other faithful followers enough to put His spirit inside each of them, allowing them to perform miracle upon miracle? But we can't accept the fact that He would love us that much? What about us? Did He just forget about us? Did He decide He was done “speaking” to us in a personal way? David and Daniel were deserving of hearing from Him, but not us? I just can't believe that. I don't believe it. And for me, truth of His very real and alive power today comes in my daily interactions with Him. Each of my stories are birthed out of His power. And the story I share in this blog is no exception. Each day I read yet another verse that tells of His great power and how it is, in fact, for me and for you. I read of the great faith of people like Noah and Moses and I can’t help but wonder, if they had taken the same approach as some do today...No, I didn’t just hear that from God. Certainly I can’t hear His voice. He wouldn’t ask me to do that, would He? I’ll look ridiculous. I’m not capable. What will people think?...where would we be? Moses knew they wouldn't believe him "but behold, they will not believe me or listen to my voice, for they will say, 'The Lord did not appear to you.'" The Lord's response? Perform a miracle. So if they did take the approach of unbelief and doubted they could hear the voice of God? Missed miracle. And for us now? What all wouldn’t happen or get accomplished if we believed that? How many missed miracles would there be? I love how God works, and knows exactly what we need, when we need it. The day that I began writing this and feeling weighted down by sadness, He prompted me to look up all the verses I could find about the power of the Holy Spirit. As I was reading and writing it all down, the Lord prompted a friend to send me a sermon from a pastor. The Lord used that 53 minutes to confirm everything in my heart I had been believing to be truth from the Lord through all the scriptures I had just written in my journal. He spoke of a faith that looks foolish and how it’s that kind of faith that sets miracles in motion. He talked about how we can’t build God’s reputation if we aren’t willing to risk our own. If we don’t take the risk, the boat isn’t going to get built. That men like Noah and Moses had to believe with everything in them that they were hearing from the Lord, in order to do something that was ridiculously far out of their realm of understanding or anyone else's, for that matter. I’m going to propose that what has happened to us is a scary realization that the kind of faith it would take to function in full freedom is simply too big. It’s risky and might make us look silly. We could lose a lot. Our reputation for one. Or maybe our friends and family. It would certainly take us well out of the safety net we call our comfort zone. And that kind of thing - our fleshly minds just can’t wrap around. So what do we do when it seems impossible to live in a faith that big? We make it smaller. Because a smaller faith feels a whole lot safer. It’s maybe a lot more “doable”. And then we begin to label those that do make the leap crazy or radical. And so begins a division the enemy can use. My prayer is that you understand the purpose of me writing this isn’t to argue anything or make anyone feel bad - but simply to put what is on my heart, in my story and the reality of what God is doing in my life - out there for you to read and maybe make you think about where you are with it all. And when you bump up against someone who says God can’t speak to you, my prayer is that you remember some of these stories. Not because of the story itself, but because of the bigness of God behind it. I ask that you go to the Lord and ask Him to reveal truth to your heart and then trust what you’re hearing from Him. Go to scripture and ask Him to reveal it to you there. But whatever you do, I’m begging you, please don’t put God in a box before you give Him a chance do something radical in your life. Because I believe He does love us enough to speak to us today. In ways that are specific to us. Just as He did for Samuel, calling his name. Just as He spoke instructions to the prophets. Just as He revealed Himself to Jacob in dreams. Just as He worked through Paul to perform miracles of healing and salvation. Just as He does through me, showing up in dreams and visions. In prompting others to encourage me with something He had been speaking to me earlier.
The thing is, if God is the same yesterday, today and tomorrow as it says in Hebrews 13:8, then I chose to believe it and live it... This is my most recent story of just that - choosing to believe what I'm experiencing and hearing, and then living it - a "whisper" from the Lord. And yet another reason I can't deny His power in my life. It's a different way that He spoke instructions to me, something I had never experienced before. I guess you could call it my very own burning bush kind of moment, only for me, it was in the form of my lips... A month or so ago, while I was in Indiana for a meeting, out of nowhere, my lips began to feel like they were on fire. At the risk of sounding like a baby, they hurt really bad. It was the kind of pain that made me lose focus and all I could think about were my lips. So I decided to Google what to do for burning lips. The very first thing that showed up...Burning Mouth Syndrome. I’m not even kidding. It’s actually a thing. And every single symptom that was listed was exactly what I was experiencing - redness, a burning sensation, swelling and pain. So I announced it to my cousin and brother, who immediately burst out into laughter. Because I’m that person. I’m the one who gets all the really weird things, the things you never even knew existed. And I think the pattern I’m beginning to notice in my life, is that’s exactly how the Lord gets my attention. Following the instructions, I got an ice cube and paper towel and made a fancy little cold compress to hold to my lips, attempting to soothe the burn a bit. Back up a few months...before this particular trip to Indiana, God had begun giving me different messages through a series of dreams and visions, dreams from others and confirmation in scripture about something I knew was ultimately something that I needed to share during my time in Indiana. Believe it or not, as much as I like to talk, there are times when I’d rather clam up. This was one of those times. Whether it’s because I’m nervous or the message feels hard or way out there, the end result often is the same...I chicken out. And the messages I know come from the Lord sit on the pages of my journal, never seeing the light. The time was shaping up to be the same pattern and every time there was an opening, my lips closed. That is until I looked up burning mouth syndrome. When I read the description out loud, my brother mentioned it reminded him of Isaiah 6:6-7. So I looked it up and read it out loud....”Then one of the seraphim flew to me, having in his hand a burning coal that he had taken with tongs from the altar. And he touched my mouth and said: “Behold, this has touched your lips; your guilt is taken away, and your sin atoned for.” Yep - burning lips. But that wasn’t what got me. It was the next verse I read that hit me...”And I heard the voice of the Lord saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here I am! Send me.” The minute I read those words, here I am, send me, I knew what I had to do. His lips were burned and then he went. I jumped up, water leaking from my melting compress and did what I knew the Lord had told me to do. Because I suddenly understood what that word "sent" looked like for me in this season. I understood in that moment that when the Lord asks me to move, I’m to move. When He asks me to sit at His feet and stay, I'm to sit. When He asks me to speak, I'm to speak. A "following the pillar of cloud and fire" kind of thing. For two long days my lips burned. So for two days I asked the Lord all that He wanted me to do, and each time I did it. The very minute I knew I had done all He asked, my lips stopped burning. It was the immediate cessation of pain. And an immediate sense of peace at knowing I had been obedient and followed the pillar of cloud. For me, that day I listened to the voice in the burning bush and it came in the form of burning lips. As I reflected on those two days, I realized how grateful I am that God loves me enough to guide me through life the way He does, in a very real and personal way. He becomes an alive and active pillar of cloud and fire, leading every step of the way. It might be that I look really ridiculous doing it, but my prayer is that I don't care.
I pray that I continue to fight against the flesh in me that wants to fit in and look normal. I want to be a dreamer. I want to hear from the Lord as I sleep and read from His word as I’m awake. I want to believe that He, by the power of His Spirit in me, could use me to heal someone. I want to believe that He would use my lips to deliver a message that could result in a miracle ultimately changing lives. I want to say with full abandon...Send me, even if I look ridiculous doing it. Even if no one else believes that I heard your voice. Especially then.
Continuing on in scripture Isaiah says...“‘Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive. Make the heart of this people dull, and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed." There are those who are going to have dull hearts and live blinded and there are going to be those who have an understanding in their hearts and opened eyes. That's when full healing comes - turned and healed, able to function in the power of the Holy Spirit. For me, I believe that when we see with our eyes, hear with our ears and understand with our hearts - that it becomes exactly the moment when the Lord whispers...now I can use you. And then miracles begin to happen.