Journey of Hope: The Beginning
Hey guys! Well, in my last post I promised to catch you up on what God has been doing in the last couple of months but it's gonna take a couple of posts so bear with me... A LOT has happened! A WHOLE new chapter in my life is beginning and I can't wait to see what God does!! It's so crazy to me how God can use unexpected circumstances in your life to LAUNCH you into what He really has for you. What does that mean, you ask? I'm glad you asked!!
A LITTLE HISTORY:
Real fast, I have to tell you that God's Word and promise to me at the beginning of this year was "Hope Fulfilled" - that things I have hoped for my whole life would be fulfilled! He followed that up really quickly with "Hear and Obey". I knew the promise was that if I would listen to Him, learn to hear His leading and follow it without fighting I would see my dreams and hopes come true. Remember that as we go through this story... That's why I named this series of posts "Journey of Hope". ;)
THE SET UP:
So here's the story. After Tim and I broke up it was tougher than I expected... I didn't expect the slump I went through because logically I knew it was the right decision. There was a lot to process, and from what I hear from my wise friends that is completely normal. But God used that time and the pain to heal some things He had been trying to get to in my heart for years!
One of the biggest things was learning to truly be a daughter and receive from my Heavenly Dad. One morning in my quiet time, I heard God so distinctly tell me that I had never let Him GIVE me anything. I'd always tried to earn it - and this season was going to be one of learning to receive. Slowing down and being a daughter: loved, cherished, protected and provided for. This made me cry, obviously. It was such a big deal for me because I grew up without a dad in my life to do those things. It was such sweet restoration. It cast so much hope and I'm watching God fulfill His Word every day!
I could go into SO much detail about all the resources and people He brought into my life in the last couple of months to minister to this part of my heart but it would take DAYS. Let's just say it's been one divine appointment after another and He's been doing a revamp on my heart. But I'll get to that... Let's go back for a second... Let me set the stage...
THE STORY BEGINS!
It's late May and I'm pretty exhausted emotionally and physically. It was like I couldn't get enough sleep or rest. I was just DONE. But I signed up to join the Gateway Choir in helping lead the opening worship set at Bethel's Heaven Come Conference because... well, really, do I have to say why??? That's like a worshipper's dream come true! Here's how tired I was though, Jesus had to remind me the day of to get excited about it... it was like He was tapping me on the shoulder saying, "Hey - this is something you've wanted for years... maybe you could enjoy it. Just saying..." Oh yeah, Jesus! You're so right!
That night was AMAZING!! I can not even put into words the feeling of being on that platform and the power and presence of God. All I can say is that I had a moment where I just KNEW down to the tip of my toes that I was MADE to do that. I was MADE to worship Him (we all were!) and to lead others into that place of total abandon in the presence of His Love. Have you ever felt that way? Like you were just IN THE ZONE!! That's what it was for me - and I felt God confirm that in my spirit in such sweet ways throughout the worship set. It was maybe the most beautiful and humbling experience of my life. It was a fantastic night!
And then two days later, God turned my world upside down.
Going into Heaven Come I was looking for freedom in a couple of areas - freedom from the symptoms and patterns of an eating disorder I struggled with for years (more on that in another blog coming soon!) and whatever it was that was weighing me down - I was SO physically spent. I honestly didn't know what it was because mentally and spiritually I felt the best I ever have. But some 50 ton weight was sitting on my shoulders and I needed it GONE! That night on the platform, one of the realizations that just became SO REAL for me is that as we turn our attention to Jesus and worship Him - express our love and our adoration - He takes care of ALL OF IT! So that was my expectation going into the Conference - I didn't know how He was gonna do it, but I knew He would! I knew He would free me... and He did. Just not how I expected.
The next day was pretty normal as Conference days go, but the exhaustion was intense. I almost didn't go on Saturday morning because I just wanted to sleep. That isn't usual for me, guys. I'm usually like the energizer bunny. But I was tapped. I asked God if I could just sleep in and go in the afternoon and He said, "Go. Jenn Johnson has something you need to hear. An impartation." Ugh... Okay. So I went. I was a few minutes late because I was lagging, but when I walked in the worship was so strong and I was immediately caught up with Him. At the end of worship, there was a ministry moment for people who were in a season of fear or have struggled with a lifetime of fear. Even though I felt better than I ever have on the fear front, I knew that I needed to raise my hand for the lifetime of fear bit. So I did. People around me gathered to lay hands on me. I'll never forget this moment as long as I live.
Ben Armstrong started praying into it and said that he saw claws of trauma in people's backs from things that happened to them in childhood and he was prophetically removing them in prayer. This got me because part of my story is that I was emotionally, physically and mentally abused as a child and into adulthood - thus the fear. I started crying. And then a man near me stepped over, laid his hands on my head and released the "Peace and Joy of Heaven" over me. When he said that, I literally FELT the weight of the fear lift off my shoulders and it hasn't come back.
Guys, I've never experienced anything like this in my life (again, I always thought I had to earn what I got), but this day Jesus came and did what only He could do. He totally set me FREE FROM FEAR!! Like, it was just different being in my brain - and it has been ever since. I like to say it this way - before it always felt like there was this caged lion at the back of my head just waiting to claw it's way out and take over. But that lion is GONE!!! Jesus came and did what only He could do! It was supernatural - Heaven invading earth.
Now, I want to throw this out there for anyone who may be reading this and feeling like, "Man, I wish that would happen to me. I've been struggling with fear for years!!" Boy, do I know how you feel. Fear has been a companion of mine since the day I was born - I was born into a chaotic, fear filled environment so it was just always there. So I get it! But here's the thing... I've been on a lifetime journey of overcoming that fear and four years ago, God started setting me free and healing me. It's been a process. This was just the culmination of a lot of tears and a lot of me partnering WITH GOD to walk out of fear and into freedom. It's been hard, soul sucking work sometimes. But God needed my partnership because I have authority over me. It takes both - us doing what we can do and Him doing the part only He can do. So if you're still walking out of fear, just know... HE WILL DO HIS PART! At just the right time.
After that, I was in a HAPPY BUBBLE that has no comparison. Being flooded with joy and peace is a pretty amazing thing! I went to sit down to listen to the session and don't you know, Jenn Johnson had something to say that I needed to hear!? She was talking about living a lifestyle of following the voice of God (can anyone say "Hear and Obey"??) - how she has practiced cultivating a sensitivity to the voice of God and obeying Him, moving when He says move, and how it just makes life SO much fun! Easier, more peaceful - AND it has the added benefit of spilling out onto others and you end up bringing Heaven to Earth in beautiful ways. When she was talking, I heard God say to me, "You've always wanted to live this way - it's the cry of your heart. And you JUST got freed up to do it. Now you can go for it!" Yes, Jesus!! Writing that down!
Aaaaannnnnd then He asked me to go to Bethel's School of Ministry in Redding, California. WHAT????!!!????!!!???
God. Are you nuts? I have a lease. I have a cat. I have a trip planned to Nepal in November. I'm signed up for a half marathon in September. Do you understand how inconvenient this is??? THIS DOESN'T MAKE ANY SENSE!!
But at the same time, while my mind was rebelling, something in my heart leapt. My spirit. It was like firecrackers going off in my soul! It FELT SO RIGHT! My brain needed convincing though... I spent the rest of the day asking Him over and over again... Are you sure this is You? Are you sure??? Maybe it's just me. Maybe I just want something new and exciting after a tough season. Maybe I'm making it all up. That night, He spoke words of identity to me that I will never forget. Words about who I am, what He created me to do and how He sees me. It was gorgeous and we ended the night with a worship party that was above and beyond. Again, I heard the invitation. "Will you say yes?"
The next morning, I was asking Him again... Are you sure You want me to do this?? I mean, all that stuff I mentioned, God. Those are real considerations. He just said... "Will you give it all up for Me?" Yes! Absolutely. But is that what You're asking me to do???? Finally, He had to get really straight with me... "Look. I'm just asking you to apply at this point. You don't HAVE to go. You don't have to make any decisions. I just want you to apply right now."
Okay, I can do that. So, I did. The impression that I got in my heart was that there was something in this whole process that He wanted me to see. Something He wanted to teach me. Boy, was I right.... But I feel like this is a good place to leave off. I'll pick up in the next post with everything that He showed me in the application process and considering such a HUGE move.
Just so you know going in, I'm taking you along for every bit of the ride on this Journey of Hope! God is asking me to step out in FAITH in some crazy beautiful ways and I promise to be open and vulnerable with y'all the whole way - to show you the great days and the not so great days (because let's be honest, we don't always FEEL faith, you know?) This is community and you guys are my peeps. My hope is that we all learn and grow from each other's stories and experiences. My BIGGEST HOPE is to inspire and encourage you to hear God for your life and take the LEAP! Now that we've set the tone... here we go!
More coming next week! In the meantime, if you follow me on Instagram you already know the outcome to this part of the story, so I'd love to ask you to consider supporting me as I step out with prayer and/or financial support. If you feel led to give financially, just follow this link.