Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Holy Spirit (Part II)

Is it possible?
All these years, had I been worshipping myself instead of God?

Lets evaluate.

Did I kill myself trying to fit pieces of my life together?
Did I think that the things I did or didn't do would determine God's love for me?
In my head, no....but my life reflected a clear yes. 
Was I a victim of severe anxiety whenever I wasn't enough for a situation?
Did I secretly pride myself on who I was, where I'd come from, and what I'd done?
Unfortunately, yes....
Did I try endlessly to solve problems in my life and other people's lives in order to receive the glory instead of allowing the Holy Spirit to work in the problems and solve them for God's glory?
Ugh...definitely guilty.

This lady was on to something.

All of sudden the reality of this unrecognized sin I had been living in became all too clear and I doubled over in repentance before God.
How dare I.
All my life I'd been trying to make God look like me, when what I claimed to be doing was passionately seeking to look more like Him.

Tears came, my wind was gone, and all I could do was sit before God in absolute repentance.
God was so much more than I had ever even realized....or cared to realize, for that matter.
In that moment, and in these weeks that have followed, I realize how little I really know about God and how much I've made Him to look a lot like me.

One of the most sobering moments since that day at Urbana was when I was reading through Romans and came to Romans 9.  I know it's a little long, but read it. Its good stuff!

15 For he says to Moses, "I will have mercy on whom I have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I have compassion." 16 It does not, therefore, depend on man's desire or effort, but on God's mercy. 17 For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: "I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display my power in you and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth." 18Therefore God has mercy on whom he wants to have mercy, and he hardens whom he wants to harden. 19 One of you will say to me: "Then why does God still blame us? For who resists his will?" 20 But who are you, O man, to talk back to God? "Shall what is formed say to him who formed it, 'Why did you make me like this?' " 21 Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for noble purposes and some for common use? 22 What if God, choosing to show his wrath and make his power known, bore with great patience the objects of his wrath--prepared for destruction? 23 What if he did this to make the riches of his glory known to the objects of his mercy, whom he prepared in advance for glory-- 

This doesn't sound like the God I used to know.
What happened to, "God loves each of His children the same"?
Would God- sweet, loving, Daddy God- really create men and intentionally harden their hearts just so that he could display His wrath??

I would have just skimmed over this verse before, but, I reread it. I study it. I can't get enough of it.
Finally, God doesn't fit in my box.
Finally, I can't answer a question about Him.
Finally, I can't speak for Him.
And finally, I'm letting Him speak for Himself.

And the answer I feel like He's sharing with me is definitely not the one I would have chosen.
I hear God say,
Yes, I could do that.
I'm God.
I'm perfect in all my ways.
I am Almighty and Sovereign
and what I choose to do is perfect.
I could create objects just to display my wrath,
and I can and will do as I please.
And while you're on this earth,
you will never understand my ways."

Box? What box?
This God is one that just blew the box to shreds and is preparing to reveal Himself to me in a new way.
And. I. Can't. Wait.

So, back to the prayer room at Urbana....
I now realized that all these years I had been my own god,
and that I knew nothing about who God really was.
I had repented and emptied myself before God.
And now that I had died to myself, I needed something else to fill me.

And fill me, He did.

Stay tuned! The cliff hanger continues...

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Holy Spirit (Part I)

I believe in the Trinity.

Holy Ghost.

And, while I'm a big fan of two of the key players of that triangle, I've never known-or, for that matter, really cared to know- much about numero tres in that equation: the Holy Spirit.  

I guess that just goes to show that God's plans are not always the ones that I would choose...

A little bit of background:
A few months ago I decided to go to this little conference called Urbana. If you haven't heard of it...look it up here.
17,000 college students and recent grads.
One week.
Break out sessions.
Multiple incredible speakers.
Worship in languages from around the world.

It all adds up to an incredible experience.
But, I didn't know all this...and when I decided to go I was a little less than excited. To be honest, I'm not entirely sure why I decided to...
I'm not a big fan of big conferences.
I had to pay quite a bit of money.
I had to leave the day after Christmas.
I just wasn't that excited, I guess.
But, again, that just goes to show that God's plans are not always the ones that I would choose.

After driving through an incredibly rough winter storm one night and driving for seven hours the next day, I was sick and even less thrilled to be there than I had been before. I was with six other INCREDIBLE women (see the picture at the bottom for an accurate display of their incredibleness), and we went that night to the first session where the M.C. offered the disclaimer, "You will not leave this conference unchanged. The person you came in as is not the person you'll be when you leave."

Excuse me while I laugh in disagreement and mockery...

They were funny.
Apparently they didn't know my circumstances.
Did I want God to show up and do dramatic and incredible things in my life?
But He had never done so in the past, so God and I were on a strictly stationary basis in which neither of us did anything wild and crazy.
I worked really hard to be a good person for Him.
And we just loved each other...a lot.
That's it.

But, by day two things started to change.
I felt like I needed to take the afternoon off and not go to any breakout sessions, but instead spend some time in the prayer room.
I spent some time in the worship prayer room by myself, just praying and working through a lot of struggles that I've been facing for...well....pretty much my whole life.
And then I felt Him pushing me to the intercessory prayer room to pray through these issues with someone.

God was starting to get a little wild and crazy and I wasn't too thrilled about it, but I decided that I should probably do as He said. He had yet to lead me down any dimly lit back alleys, so I figured I'd be safe.

I went into the prayer room and sat down with a wonderfully sweet lady who helped me pray through a lot of struggles.
When it came down to the end of things I said something along the lines of,
"I know God is gracious.
  I know God is loving.
  I know God is here.
  But, that's the problem!
  I know all these things in my head,
  but that's where they stop.
  I don't feel God's love, grace, and presence.
  I will never reach what God wants me to be.
  I could give up everything and move to Africa to save God's suffering
  and still I wouldn't be enough.
  Nothing I do is ever going to be enough!"

This wonderfully patient and soft-spoken woman I had just unloaded on looked at me and said a few words that I will never, ever in my life forget,
"Lauren, I think maybe you need to repent of trying to be your own god."

Game changer.
Those few words struck a cord, and I felt the air leave my lungs as I marinated on what she had just said.

Stay tuned....this story is just getting good. :)

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