Saturday, March 16, 2013

Broken, but Rejoicing...

Almost one year ago I walked into Loving Hearts Babies Home in Uganda, Africa. It was maybe my third or fourth day in the country and I had met my fair share of adorable and lovable babies, children, and orphans.
But, I will never forget walking into Loving Hearts and laying eyes on this little man, Jonathon. Something about those big, brown eyes hit me and screamed for me to come pick him up....which, of course, I DID!
I've never fallen so in love, so quickly. Every free moment of my time at the orphanage was spent rocking, feeding, and cuddling this precious little guy.
He couldn't talk, walk, or sit up by himself. He hardly ever smiled or expressed emotion.
And yet, he taught me so much about the orphaned heart, and, in turn, my own heart and the Father's love for His children.
For a little over two weeks I bonded with Jonathon.
I honestly can't think of words that would accurately express how in love I was with this boy.

And was time to go.
Back to the states.
Back to "normal" life in which I didn't get to share the love of the Father with sweet, little orphans every day.

To be honest, it was hard....but not as hard as I thought it would be.
I said goodbye to all the little kiddos, saving Jonathon until the last.
I rocked him, snuggled him, kissed him.
And I whispered my love and the love of His Father in his ear.
Then I tucked a cute little teddy bear I had brought as a gift into his bed with him and I said goodbye.

The end.
...but, it wasn't.
Secretly, I had a continuation of this story already played out in my mind.

Me adopting him was out of the question because Uganda has pretty strict adoption laws, but trust me I thought of trying.

BUT, some incredible friends from my church were adopting, specifically a little boy from that very orphanage. They had yet to be matched with their boy, but I had already planned it all out in my head.
Jonathon was theirs.
He was the one they were going to be matched with.
I just knew it!

So, goodbye wasn't that hard.
It was more like a smirky, "see ya' later..."
...because I thought I had it all figured out.

But, let me tell you....I did not.

Since leaving I have continued to pray and have firmly believed that somehow Jonathon would be matched with this family and that I'd be able to watch him grow up in their loving, wonderful, and Christ-filled home.
I was positive that was God's plan.
In fact, just Thursday night, I sat and talked with a missionary who had just spent time in Africa and she shared about a little boy she grew so close to while she was there. Her story reminded me so much of Jonathon and I. But, unlike Jonathon, her little boy was reunited with his parents, so the likelihood of her seeing him again was slim.
I prayed that God would somehow work a miracle and unite this perfect family from my church with Jonathon.

But, God's ways are not my ways and His thoughts are not my thoughts...and He had a different plan.

Friday, I was sitting in a class when I felt my phone go off.
Usually I don't check my phone during class, but for some reason I did...maybe out of boredom (it was a particularly dry day in perspectives on literature) or maybe, subconsciously I knew I needed to.

So, I peeked at my phone to find a picture message.
I couldn't see the picture, but I could see the message was from this beautiful momma of this "perfect" family for Jonathon, and the message read: So sad. I'm fighting tears. Do you follow ARM (the ministry that Loving Hearts is under) on Facebook?

My heart sunk.
Something had happened.
Something bad.

I wanted to look at the picture to see what it was, but  I waited to get back to my room to open the message...just in case...

Please, Lord, just not Jonathon. 

I walked into my room and skipped looking at the message all together.
I got on ARM's Facebook page, going straight to the source.

And there before my eyes, was exactly what I dreaded.

A week ago Jonathon had fallen and hit his head pretty hard.
The orphanage thought he was okay, but Thursday night around 10:00 o'clock, Jonathon passed away.

Just like that.
From bumping his head.
His sweet, little, precious brown head....

Needless to say, I had a mini breakdown...(and by mini, I really mean full blown sob-fest.)
I was crying and praying and crying some more...

How could this be Your plan, God? 
This wasn't the way things were supposed to happen!
From bumping his head? Really? Did anyone even take him to the doctor? Was he in pain and no one knew? 
How is that even possible? If that happened in the states, he never would have died!
It something like that happened, there would be lawsuits of all kinds! 
God, I was supposed to see him again! 
He was supposed to be adopted into this perfect family!

And then, in the midst of my tears, I heard what words were coming out of my mouth.
"Lord, You are still sovereign. Even now, You are still holy."

My own words hit me full force.
Yes, even now...even when I just want to scream and yell at God and question His plans...even now, no matter the circumstance, He is still so Holy and so incredibly Sovereign.

God has a much bigger plan in place here- one that is far greater than the one I had played out in my mind.
And now, just as I had asked, Jonathon is dancing in the presence of his perfect family...because there's really no more perfect family than the family of the Father.
So, even though my heart is broken, and my plans and dreams did not play out the way I hoped, I will rejoice in knowing that sweet little Jonathon has made it home to his Daddy and is no longer living as an orphan of this world.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

God is Gold...literally. (Part II)

Click here for Part I

That's the God I serve. 
That's the God that loves ME! 

My worship of Him is not so that I get tingly feelings, but to praise Him for His unimaginable holiness.
I don't come to Him to get things, feelings, or supernatural experiences.
I come to Him to get Him.

I don't come to him based on whether or not He is showing up in cool ways.
I come to Him to worship. 
I come to Him to simply stand in awe of His presence. 
He is Holy, Holy, Holy. 
A Holy I can't even fathom or explain.

Duh, Lauren! 

So, as I sat in reverence of God I just prayed to enter into His presence and worship.
No strings attached.
No expectations or limits.
Just worship.
Because He's WORTHY.

And after quite a while I put away my books and decided to go to bed.
I walked to the bathroom and took out my contacts and I got what I thought was a head rush.
Gold sparkles started falling all around me and I blinked several times to clear my vision thinking I was seeing things.

But the gold continued to fall.
I jumped back from the counter and started looking around the bathroom.
Gold sparkles were falling everywhere.

WHAT?!  Who does that?! Who shows up in gold dust?!
God. That's who.

I stretched out my hands thinking some would land in my palms, but it just fell through.
So, I just stood there...completely unsure of what to do.
I honestly wish you could have seen this scene play out. I'm sure it was pretty entertaining!

And after maybe thirty seconds or so, the gold dust stopped falling and not a drop of it was left.
....and I just kept standing there....still totally unsure of what had just happened.
I walked out of the bathroom and had a conversation with my roommate that went something like this:

Me: "Clarissa..."
Clarissa: "Yea?"
Me: Uhmm...
Clarissa: "Yea?"
Clarissa: "Lauren?"
I tried to come up with some words that didn't make me sound absolutely crazy, but nothing came to mind, so I just turned around and walked back into the bathroom.
Clarissa: "Okay. Nice chat!"

I was literally dumbstruck.
I had no words.
God just showed up as sparkly gold dust....
....after I had just told Him that I wanted to worship Him for who He was, not the things, feelings, or experiences that He could give me.
What would you say??

Moral of this story: God does what He wants, when He wants, and how He wants.
He is Holy, Holy, Holy and He deserves my absolute adoration every second of every day.

If you're looking to experience God's supernatural abilities, my best advice for you is this: STOP.
Stop looking for what God can do for you and start worshipping him- simply worshipping who He is, how holy and deserving and wonderful He is.
In the words of one of the incredible speakers at Urbana, David Platt, "We don't come to Jesus to get things, we come to Jesus to get Jesus."

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

God is Gold...literally. (Part I)

Lately I've been on a journey of pursuing God in the supernatural.
The more I read the bible, the less I understand Him...and I LOVE it!
I want a God that I can't explain, define, or limit, and, for so long I have been able to do all of those things.

Like I said, I have been pursuing God in His realm instead of mine, but for the last few weeks I felt like I wasn't seeing much of Him.

I was also struggling with busyness.
School, work, and my social personality had taken me into a level of busyness that was distracting me from the King.
Yes, I lived my life for His glory and I adored Him with every breath I took, but I was failing to have intimate time with Him in prayer and in the Word.
I wasn't retreating and allowing Him to fill me because I had so many other things to do.

And then last weekend I was talking with Ruth Ann, an incredible woman of faith who is leading a small group for me and some other incredible women.
I was talking with her about wanting God to reveal Himself to me supernaturally. I didn't mention the fact that I had been struggling to spend intimate time with Him, but God gave her the perfect words to share with me.

"I think we'll start to see more of God in the supernatural when we start to develop an intimate relationship with Him that says, 'God, I know you can do whatever you want, whenever you want  to, and however you'd like and I just want to meet with you however you choose to reveal yourself."

Sometimes He might not show up with fire from Heaven or big booming words, but I assure you that He shows up.
He wants daily, intimate communion with you and me, even though we are all completely unworthy.

Through Ruth Ann's words I realized that the two strongest desires in my spiritual walk, intimacy with God and revelation of His supernatural power, were connected.

So, last week I refocused my goal.
Rather than pursuing God's supernatural power and revelation, I pursued Him....just Him...however He chose to reveal himself.

I grabbed my bible and the book I'm reading, Crazy Love by Francis Chan, and I intentionally sat down just to be intimate with God and to spend time with Him.
I've read the first few chapters of Crazy Love a million times, but I kept feeling God direct me back to chapter one.
So, I obeyed and the words of that chapter hit me with a fresh revelation.

Chapter one is focused on the fact that we can not and will not ever understand God.
We can not exaggerate Him.
We can not define Him.
He is beyond Holy.
Our words can't even describe Him because He is so Holy.

For the first time in my life I read Revelation four and it hit me.
That chapter in the bible describes the throne room of God.
If you need a good reality (or supernatural) check, here it is!

 After this I looked, and behold, a door standing open in heaven! And the first voice, which I had heard speaking to me like a trumpet, said, “Come up here, and I will show you what must take place after this.” At once I was in the Spirit, and behold, a throne stood in heaven, with one seated on the throne.  And he who sat there had the appearance of jasper and carnelian, and around the throne was a rainbow that had the appearance of an emerald.  Around the throne were twenty-four thrones, and seated on the thrones were twenty-four elders, clothed in white garments, with golden crowns on their heads. From the throne came flashes of lightning, and rumblings and peals of thunder, and before the throne were burning seven torches of fire, which are the seven spirits of God, and before the throne there was as it were a sea of glass, like crystal.

And around the throne, on each side of the throne, are four living creatures, full of eyes in front and behind: the first living creature like a lion, the second living creature like an ox, the third living creature with the face of a man, and the fourth living creature like an eagle in flight. And the four living creatures,each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say,
“Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty,
    who was and is and is to come!”
    to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”
 And whenever the living creatures give glory and honor and thanks to him who is seated on the throne, who lives forever and ever, the twenty-four elders fall down before him who is seated on the throne and worship him who lives forever and ever. They cast their crowns before the throne, saying,
“Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power,
for you created all things,
    and by your will they existed and were created.”

This blog entry is getting impossibly long...and I know how much everyone enjoys a good cliff hanger, so marinate on this verse and I will be back with more soon. 
Trust me, this story is just getting good. 

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