Thursday, March 26, 2015

2015: The Year of Prayer - Week 12

Regard your endurance as discipline.  God is dealing with you as sons...All legitimate sons undergo much more should we submit to our spiritual Father and live!...he disciplines us in a way that provides genuine benefit to us and enables us to share in his holiness.  Now, all discipline, while it is happening, does indeed seem painful, not enjoyable; but for those who have been trained by it, it later produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it.  (Hebrews 12:7-12, CJB/NIV)

It's funny how you read a Scripture, start praying and speaking it out to someone else, only to later realize it was for you too.  Yeah, that happened.  I read these verses yesterday, claimed them for my husband, whose workload is overwhelming.  That's why I underlined the line about "does indeed seem painful." Great truth right there.  Discipline, endurance testing, training - it is all meant to build up our endurance and character.

If you've ever trained for any sort of athletic contest, done a boot camp or an activity requiring physical sacrifice, you can identify with the metaphor the writer of Hebrews is making here.  It also refers to rearing children and I can tell you - there are times when it is painful for all involved to train up a children in the way he should go, for when he is old, he will not depart from it. (Prov 22:6)  (And maybe even building a solid, Christ-centered marriage...definitely pain involved there!)

I've learned one lesson this week - in the midst of great personal struggle with my own lingering mental battles, losses for the kingdom and yet witnessing the remarkable power of God on full display in the Body of Christ.  The lesson is simply this: Just when you feel comfortable, God is going to show you how far out of your depth you are.

The point is not to make you feel bad, although it is humbling (see reference to discipline).  The point is, He is reminding you of the reality that you can only walk on water by keeping your eyes on Him.  This journey of Christian maturity is one of greater de-pendence, rather than gaining in-dependence.  Only by holding onto Him do we get to go beyond our capabilities, which leads to bigger dreams and bigger miracles.  In the words of (my favorite) TobyMac in his latest release "Beyond Me,":

You gave me the stars put them out of my reach.
Called me to waters a little too deep.
Oh, I've never been so aware of my need.
You keep on making me see,  It's way beyond me.

We had our monthly city-wide prayer and praise service last night.  I'd been feeling pretty good, knowing my place on the team, when the Lord threw curveballs my way.  First, He gave me a prayer team of people who are (WAY) more experienced and skilled than I am.  Through that, He removed me from having any direct role in leading except to open the service in adoration and be available for prayer as a backup.

Then He asked me to go further.  He asked me to sing in front of a room of 100+ people.

I grew up in church.  I grew up singing in choir.  I sing all the time at home.  AT HOME.  I don't have a bad voice, it is pretty clear, actually.  I can also get up on stage and speak with no nervousness.

But sing?  Oh, Lord, have mercy!!

I only had to sing a chorus to "The Great I Am," by Phillips, Craig and Dean.  (Little did I know it was already on the set list, would have helped if I'd checked that first!)  He also gave me a word to speak, which I did and was totally comfortable.  But as I started to sing, my voice cracked - it didn't even sound like my voice. SO EMBARRASSING.

Yet, I did it.  Obedience always leads to blessing and I got to witness the powerful movement of God and be a vessel to channel His power into others.  Many times during the service, my arms and hands felt like they were on fire and at one point, I was so hot, I had to strip off some layers.  God is an all-consuming fire and I got pretty close to the flame.
In the end, it wasn't the singing, but stepping out of my comfort zone (and seeing others so completely in theirs) that thew me.    
As I tried *unsuccessfully* to sleep last night, I kept trying to process the experience.  I was struck with one thought: I AM SO COMPLETELY OUT OF MY LEAGUE.
 I have little to no experience in the ways God is currently using me.  Thankfully, that is the place where God runs to meet us.  When we get down so low, putting the maximum amount of space we can between us and Heaven in submission to Him, Our gracious and beautiful Lord rushes in to fill the gap.  I can tell you, I am counting on Him doing that.  I am in no way qualified to do the things He is asking me to do, except by faith in the gifts and talents He has given.  They are all His.

The dreams we are dreaming, as a family, as a church, are so big.  But I know God will match us dream for dream, and raise us beyond our resources to prove Himself.  As Mark Batterson, the author of my (most recent) favorite book, The Circle Maker, repeats constantly throughout the book and ends the children's version with:

Perhaps you feel completely out of your league too.  Good.  It's discipline.  It is God.  He is good so what you are enduring will eventually be good for you....and for others.  He is taking you to the place you know you need Him and only Him.  It is by grace you have been saved, so you can't boast about it.  You can only praise the Person of Grace for it.  More to come, more endurance training to persevere through.  More bold prayers to be prayed.  More of God to be witnessed.  More to come in the Year of Prayer.

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