Can I talk to you about the most extreme change God has brought in my life? There are so many, but it isn’t hard to choose. And though I know most would automatically say their biggest change or transformation was in their salvation, I cannot really say that. I know that may sound strange, but you see, I am a preacher’s kid and I gave my heart to Jesus so early in life that I didn’t feel a huge yoke fall away. I had no time to actually be terribly bad before I asked Him to be my savior. Do you see what I am saying? I mean, spiritually transformation took place, but in this flesh, I experienced little change.
Still, I could offer you many other wonderful changes; the change from fearing God’s wrath to experiencing His goodness (huge); from feeling like a failure to believing I could do anything God asked me to do (phenomenal); or delivering me from years of bulimia (life-changing); or setting me free from wrong mindsets because of abuse I experienced as a child (can I get a witness?). There have been so many wonderful changes in my life because of God. I could truly never name them all. But I have to say the most stunningly miraculous thing He has done in this life is teach me a new way to love. He has literally enlarged my capacity to really love. Not Him. I have always loved Him like crazy. But He changed me most when He opened my heart to love His people.
Now, I know that may sound strange to you, and in all honesty, it seemed strange to me at the time. I had been serving God for 35 years, teaching, leading ministries, working in high level positions- all for God, and out of my love for God. So when He began to deal with this part of my life, I was shocked. I thought this was one area that was in actually in good shape. I did not know that I needed to be transformed in my love walk, because I was always doing stuff for His people, always busy, always pouring, and always surrounded by the work of the ministry. But through a series of events and personal revelations, the Lord began to show me that if I were to truly be about His business, I would have to be about His people.
My first clue that something was off center was when I went to a training seminar with one of my friends and co-leaders. We sat down in the back and began to listen to the teacher. It was great, right up until the time he said… “Now, let’s break into groups of three or four and have some discussion time… Oh, and do not stay with the people you came with.” I thought I was going to be sick. It was a revelation. I could easily stand in front of a thousand people and talk about Jesus and not bat an eyelash. But the one on one, face to face, made me break out in hives.
Then a little while later, the Lord began to point some small things out to me, like how I would leave skid marks getting out the side door after I would speak at an event. Or how I would leave people asking, “Where’d she go?” And after particularly bombarded times or a conference with long prayer lines, I would retreat for days. I thought I was tired, but I was actually just in hiding.
It’s funny now, because if you had asked me, I would have told you I was very sociable, very approachable, very available, very caring… but what I was, was afraid. I wanted to offer God to everyone, but none of myself, because in truth, if I offered me and they did not like me, I was way too insecure to deal with the rejection. So, I delivered God’s message, but fell short of offering God’s heart.
Then one day at a conference in Missouri, standing in front of thousands, the Lord did something. As I watched the women sing and worship, and cry and sway, God opened my eyes. In the briefest of moments and the most profound of glimpses, He opened a window for me in the spirit and allowed me the most minute foray into His love for the people who stood in that room. The most brief fragrance of God-love and it completely took my breath away and absolutely buckled my knees. I felt like I had been hit with a sledgehammer. I had never experienced anything like it. The best way I could describe it would be to take that first night in the hospital, when you held your baby for the very first time in the quiet and stillness of the room… when you looked at their face and were absolutely overwhelmed with the awe, the responsibility, the intense and possessive love that only the one who carried and delivered can feel… that amazing and scary love… and now multiply it until the breath leaves your body.
That is God love. I cried the ugly cry until I could not cry anymore. My eyes were swollen, my head hurt, and people were walking several paces ahead of me pretending not to hear my wailing, but none of it mattered, because God had given me revelation. Painful, repentance inducing revelation, and I felt as if I would never see the world in the same way. And I can honestly tell you… I never have.
It shook everything I thought I knew about myself. That glimpse lifted years of Christian veneer off of my life. All of the religiosity fell off. All of the lingo I had learned, all of the methods and patterns and habits just came unglued in that moment. And I cried. I just thought I had cried before, but God changed me that night. He got into rooms in my heart that I did not even know existed and cleaned house. It was just the most painfully glorious thing I have ever experienced with Him. He emptied me, and then He did the most marvelous thing, like a breath sweeping the room, He filled me with a new capacity for God-love.
He so messed me up.
I am changed. My life is different. It is crazy different. I walk through much of it feeling like a fingernail torn into the quick, but it is such a good pain, because I have found His heart… and it is you.
Dear One, if you are looking for Him, if you are searching for the heart of God, look beside you. Go horizontal.
I think one of the most profound things the Father shared with me about this was a simple illustration. I have three children, Aaron (24), Matthew (21), and Kayti (14). They are my heart. Aaron and Matthew have my wild hair and warped sense of humor. Kayti has a wicked awesome wit, my teenage form and my expressive eyebrows. When they enter a room, my breath catches. I would without hesitation die for any one of them. They are mine. They are me.
You may think you love me, and even tell me you love me, but if you see Aaron, Matt, or Kayti on the side of the road and you know them to be my children, and do not stop to help them, your actions expose your heart. If you can pass them by, I no longer believe you when you say you love me. Because if you love me – really love me – you will love them.
It is so simple it is hard.
I John 3:
14We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers. Anyone who does not love remains in death. 15Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has eternal life in him.
16This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers. 17If anyone has material possessions and sees his brother in need but has no pity on him, how can the love of God be in him? 18Dear children, let us not love with words or tongue but with actions and in truth. 19This then is how we know that we belong to the truth, and how we set our hearts at rest in his presence
I can honestly tell you that the most extreme makeover I have been through in my life is that His people now break my heart for a completely different reason. I no longer sneak out the side door and I no longer hide in the back. God has opened my arms, and opened my heart. It is the most amazing thing imaginable to me that God can give you a love for people that just takes your breath away. And in that… I truly know I have passed from death to life.
And oh what a life it is…