Saturday, March 19, 2016

From Death to Life

Philippians 3:11
“that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.”

God has been surrounding me with this idea of resurrection, and he has been speaking revival to my soul, since before I even came to Ignite. During my three months of waiting to come to Guat, God placed a song on my heart: Spirit of the Living God, by Jeremy Riddle. The chorus says, “Spirit of the Living God, come fall afresh on me, come awake me from my sleep. Blow through the caverns of my soul, pour in me to overflow.” I remember hearing that song for the first time, and feeling like God was talking directly to me, and He was. He was giving me the prayer I needed to wake up from my spiritual slumber. I struggled a lot before I came here. I was accepted to IGNITE in September, and I didn’t leave until January. I had four months to kill, and the days seemed never ending. After the initial joy and excitement subsided, I began to grow cold to the Lord, and bitter in my heart. I felt like he had taken everything from me. After twelve plus years of dancing, I had to quit. After believing for months that I would go to college, I dropped out five days before I was supposed to move in. All of my friends were gone and enjoying their new journey, and I was stuck waiting. I felt like a tree, completely stripped of all of it’s leaves, left only with broken branches, barely surviving. I knew IGNITE was God’s will, He made that clear as day, but my identity was completely lost, and nothing He was doing in my life made any sense. I became so caught up in the why, when, where, and how, that it began to slowly kill me and cause me to become apathetic to the Lord. But one day, God spoke to me through his creation and reminded me of the change in nature’s seasons. Summer has to die, in order to become Fall, then Fall fades into Winter, and out of Winter, new life blooms amidst Spring. It’s a cycle of change, a process of death and life, slumber, and rebirth. Surely a tree must be stripped of all of it’s leaves in order to grow new ones, and the flowers must fade away in order to spring back up with vibrancy and life. I too must lose my leaves every once in a while. Pieces of who I am, must be cut away so that the glory of who God is, can shine through me. And what a beautiful thing it is, that my Jesus loves me enough to stoop down low and take away pieces of me, in order to be fulfilled with the fulness of Him. This is a picture of resurrection that I had never thought of before, and suddenly everything made sense. God was taking away the things in my life that I held so dear, so that I would have nothing left to cling to but Him. In that moment of realization, my heart broke and my perspective changed. I felt reawakened. God’s voice was loud again, his presence was near, and his light captivated my gaze. I was being restored into the image of His likeness again, and a beautiful, heavenly exchange was taking place within my bones. Stripped of me, I became clothed in his righteousness. I still had no idea what God was doing, but it didn’t matter, because I knew whose I was and I knew who was directing my every step. 

A few weeks before I came to Ignite, my best friend, Seleena, shared with me her verse for the year. Hosea 6:1-3, “Come, let us return to the Lord; for he has torn us, that he might heal us; he has struck us down, and he will bind us up. After two days, he will revive us; on the third day he will raise us up, that we might live before him. Let us know; let us press on to know the Lord; his going out is as sure as the dawn; he will come to us as the showers, as the spring rains that water the earth.” These verses quickly became my lifeline. Within the first two weeks of being at Ignite, I had to experience a new kind of resurrection, and one that I never expected. As I have so often explained in my other IBS’s, I grew up feeling like I had to meet everyone’s expectations and as a result, I never felt good enough. I became so stuck on myself, and being that good Christian girl everyone wanted me to be, that I led myself into the pit of self centeredness. Everything was about me. How could I be good enough? What can I do to make myself look better, or “holier,” than I actually was. Many times I felt like I couldn’t hear God, and looking back now, it was because of my own blindness. I had been wandering around this earth with both of my hands covering my eyes, thinking that I knew the way that leads to life and the fullest of joys. But I know nothing, and I am nothing apart from Christ. It took me leaving home, leaving all of the expectations, to finally realize that I wasn’t really all that good. In fact I was, no I am, a horribly evil human being, devoid of all goodness and grace. God ripped my heart right out of my chest, and began to tear away the build up of sin that I had been burying for so many years. For so long, I tried with all of my might, to be a self sufficient Christian, able to do everything in my own strength. I didn’t want to come to God, or anyone for that matter, and burden them. I wanted to prove to God that I was strong enough, good enough, and capable enough to handle life on my own. I thought I was doing God a favor, but I was so wrong. I am in desperate need of the Lord. A.W. Tozer says, “It is doubtful that God can use a man greatly, unless he hurts him deeply.” God had to invade, and rip me open, in order to restore me unto Him. It’s painful beyond all belief, but I have never felt so alive, so new, so whole. He promises to revive us when we come to Him, and constantly he is drawing us near. May we press on to know the Lord, and pursue his purpose, no matter the cost. 

Application: We do not have IBS class this week, and I usually hate to share my writing with other people. Considering that I really opened up in this post, I will take time out of the day to share my IBS with one person. 

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