Do you ever pray out of routine, not fully present while giving God your requests? Or pray, knowing full well what you’re asking, but limiting the power of prayer and God’s ability to answer any and all of them?
During my first discipleship time with Ashlinn, we dove right into one of the most difficult things we have to let our hearts do: forgiveness. At the end she prayed that the Lord would bring memories and emotions to the surface that need to be crucified and for healing in my soul.
Ultimately this is what my heart longs for, but as God began answering this prayer the last week or so (and is continuing to answer), I’ve been a witness to the realness of prayer and the painful process of healing. Jeremiah 33:3 & 6 says:
“Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know … I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security.”
Prior to coming to Milwaukee the Lord began chipping away at my hardened heart and teaching me about the gift of having feelings. In response to broken relationships and adult size problems growing up, my defense mechanism formed into an immunity to emotion. I matter-of-factly state that, “I don’t cry,” but under that blunt truth feelings of anger, sadness, shame, guilt, rejection, pride, and despair grow increasingly heavy.
I’ve known for quite some time now that I cannot fully move forward in my relationship with God and other people if I don’t let go of the baggage from my past. I had a pretty good idea that I would be able to do that on mission, which is one of many reasons I decided to come to Milwaukee.
In regards to answered prayers, the Lord has been at work revealing many areas in my life that need to be brought to the cross, but he’s also reminded me who He is: God is love (1 John 4:7-21). So while I’m terrified for the journey I’m embarking on, I know I’m in good company.
Mid week Jenn Runnoe, one of our staff, asked us the question, “If you could explain in one word what the Lord has been teaching you this week, what would it be?”
Coming to mind immediately, my answer was ‘love.’
Now hear me out. Love does not come naturally to me. It’s not my go to when interacting in emotional situations or during times of disagreement. To be honest, my response is typically the opposite. That being said, this week has consisted of figuratively peeling back layers of an onion in order to get to the center. In this case, the center is love.
On Tuesday, the Lord opened my eyes up to the thick layer of anger I have built up and how damaging this is. During my second Discipleship time with Ashlinn we did an impromptu conflict management study. Naturally, she asked me to find what the Bible has to say about this.
I found that you cannot walk in the light if you hate a fellow believer (1 John 2:9-11, 1 John 3:15). By humbling ourselves and submitting to God, he will lift us up (James 4:1-12). We know that our words are like fire (James 3:5-12), so we must ask the Lord to guard our speech (Psalm 141: 3-4). As a result, our harsh words will be replaced with praise for the Lord.
Continuing to peel the layers back, Wednesday night, better known as “Date Night With Jesus” was an awe and Spirit filled time. I delved further into what the Bible had to say concerning love by starting to look at the why.
In John 13:34-35 Jesus says,
“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Okay, that’s pretty straight forward. Jesus calls me to.
Next, I took a look at 1 Corinthians 13.
(The song 1 Corinthians 13 by United Pursuit just came on my Spotify right after I looked up that chapter and titled this blog. Okay, hello God. I hear you.)
The passage, 1 Cor 13:4-8, goes as follows:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, 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 the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.”
Love is patient.
It is not easily angered.
It keeps no record of wrongs.
It does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth.
We are commanded in James 1:19 to ‘be slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.’ Further, it tells us in verse 21 to ‘get rid of … the evil that is so prevalent and humbly accept the word planted in you.’ Even further than that, the Bible says in 1 Cor 13 that love rejoices with the truth. We know the truth to be Jesus, as he tells us in John 14:6.
Sweet, so basically everything opposite to what I’m doing. Easy to fix, right?! Ha! If it was, I’d have it mastered by now.
Good news though!!!! It’s not by my own strength and will power that I have to change my heart attitude. God gave me an ‘advocate to help me and be with me forever.’ (John 14:16) By calling on and being empowered by the Holy Spirit, I get to enjoy the gifts that come along with that. We know from Galatians 5:22-23, 25 that
“The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.”
God’s got my back and that gives me great hope that I’ll be able to show compassion and love to my brothers and sisters.
Let me remind you that all of this occurred within a matter of two days. But God didn’t stop there…
During our weekly meeting on Thursday, we listened to Bob Fuhs teach us how to live the Spirit filled life. At this point, I don’t even have words to describe how sovereign God is.
Here’s a couple take away nuggets:
- You don’t love someone with a list
- Religion is spelled “do” and Christianity is spelled “done”
- As you’re empowered by the Spirit, He will make you more of who He wants you to be
- “Lord I can’t, but You can”
God took it further yet, and brought me to tears during and well after the meeting. Remember when I told you that I don’t cry? Jesus changes everything… Normally, when I feel myself getting teary in public I can suppress it. Not this time… Jesus brought on the water works as vivid thoughts, memories, and emotions surfaced. In a way, it felt good to cry, knowing Jesus was doing a work in me.
So, as scared as I am to move through this healing process, God has surely equipped me. He’s placed me in a loving, compassionate community of believers and given me the gift of his Spirit. And to that I say, AMEN!
I want to invite you to continue supporting me and my team through prayer:
- That during times of tragedy and crisis, people would see Jesus’ unconditional love for all people groups.
- That the Lord would continue to do a work in my heart. That I would trust and rest in his presence.
- That I would use the common brokenness between me and my coworkers to point to Jesus and how He makes us a new creation.
- That I would trust the Lord to bring in the rest of my support.
Thank you for reading up on the incredible ways God is at work in my life here in Milwaukee!
(If you’d like to join my team financially, you can do so here https://give.cru.org/0819028.)