self baptism and what I am learning on prayer

My question to the Lord when trying to write this post has been: how do I convey, what I am experiencing, even though I don’t truly understand it?

Here is my best attempt.  I pray it accomplishes what he intended it to accomplish.

So, I’m in a bible study on prayer this semester at my church.

And I’m reading a book on intercession.

And although I am not lost, I am feeling somewhat over my head because it is beginning to challenge some of my internal (not spiritually based) beliefs.

Beliefs such as: strong people pull themselves up by their own bootstraps, if I need help, I need to help myself, if I want something done right, I should do it myself.  I’ve picked up some of that as truth, and I’ve incorrectly applied it to my spiritual beliefs regarding the church and my walk with God.   I am finding these not to be completely accurate in the world of the church and God, and it is a very humbling, pride crushing, and completely wonderful experience all at the same time.

I haven’t written on what I’ve been learning on prayer lately, because I keep waiting to get a grasp on it before I put it to words. That sounds dramatic.  I still don’t have a good handle on the depths of prayer, but I feel like it might be quite awhile until I do, so I figured I’d share even if it’s just a little bit of truth.

It’s almost like I’ve been sneaking morning walks into this misty wood, full of fog, yet beautiful and inviting.  I can only see as far as my arm will reach, and it’s as though a comfortable cloud is continually wrapped around me, keeping me cozy and safe in my little space of discovery.  I keep wanting to come back because it is so peaceful and captivating.  It is quiet and I leave refreshed. The trees are inviting, and the further I walk into the wood, the more I see, each few steps brings me to a new revelation of beauty or depth and understanding.  I am deeply fascinated by the branches and the bark, the leaves and new plants.

foggy-woods
Taken from http://bahaiteachings.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/11/foggy-woods.jpg

However, the last few weeks feel a bit like the fog is starting to clear out a more, and instead of only seeing what is right in front of me, I’ve got a 15 to 20 foot scope all around me.  And it’s kinda been a lot to take in.  I’m not overwhelmed, but I’m just sorta staggered by how much there is, how beautiful, how deep, how connected but unique it all is.

Please be sure to see my discovery through this lens, as this has been my general approach to my spiritual walk/life what-have you.  Here is a girl about to be baptized, those of you church-folk know you’re suppos-to let the pastor/elder church guy actually baptize you, even Jesus didn’t baptize himself but asked John to do it.

I'ma do it myself!
I’ma do it myself! I don’ need no- body’s help!

Oh, how I love that the little girl psyched herself out right before too.  I feel like I do that sometimes, “I have a problem?  Okay, “I’ma ’bout to take this ON!”  “All by MY-self, and with God too!”  “Let’s DO this!”

And that has pretty much failed lately.

I am learning that we NEED other people.

And that God made it that way, on purpose.

And it’s kinda messing with me and my idea of my independent self.  A lot.

Here’s the very brief information I’ve gathered, merely from personal experience over the past few weeks regarding prayer:

A few weeks ago, the Lord gently suggested I ask to be prayed for at church regarding the migraines I’d been having.  I didn’t.  Then I regretted it.  So, a week or two later at church, I felt like I should be obedient, and I inquired about where one would go if one wanted prayer.  I was told that there was a prayer corner, where others in the church could pray with me after service, or I could put in a request to have some of the elders of the church pray for me.  I went home and decided to think about it.

I wanted to do the prayer corner thing, because it seemed less “bothersome” and attention drawing.  BUT, I prayed about it and asked God what he recommended.  While in prayer, I saw in my mind a picture of my friends husband (he’s an elder in our church, the only one I of know actually), praying for me, and putting oil on my forehead and me being healed.  I took that as a go for the elder one, so I obediently put in a request to have prayer from the elders for the migraines.  Even though it wasn’t my first choice.

A few weeks later the Saturday night had come.  Davin was going to go with me.  The childcare was full before church even started and we arrived late to the service.  We wandered the isles looking for seats, when my friend grabbed us and directed us to two seats next to her and her husband – I’m going to consider that as sovereign action number one because we normally sit in the same spot every service.  I won’t list the other sovereign actions in numerical order, but it starts there.  We also ended up sitting next to a mom and her son who was around 8 years old.  During worship, he lifted up his hands just like his mama and a tear might have welled up in my eye.  Towards the end of service, the pastor said somewhat uncharacteristically, “sometimes we need others to lay hands on us and pray for us.”  My eyes got really big.  He asked anyone who was experiencing pain from something in their life to stand up, so he and the church could pray for us.  Which also doesn’t happen very often.  I stood up so fast!  Ain’t no shame in a cooperate prayer!  That’s not a bother to anyone, they are going to do it anyway, why not get in on that?  The young mom and her 8 year old boy along with my husband all put their hands on me.

The pastor prayed for people who were having pain in their minds, among other things, but he prayed a great deal for our minds.  I was like Whhaaaaaa?  I asked the Lord how he could possibly orchestrate ALL this.  Prayer in church the night I am at church to get prayed over?!?  What confirmation!  I thought to myself, God, you are so surprising, and crazy organized.

(Side Note: When our pastor prays over us, it feels like a present from God all packaged up just for each one of us.  Like Jesus saying, remember, “I love you.”)

The little 8 year old boys fidgety hand wiggled and tried to stay steady on my side.  Tears welled up again in my eyes thinking that I could be so special that a precious 8 year old boy would pray for me.

I was standing in God’s grace.  Right in the middle of it.  Doing nothing to deserve it, doing nothing to actually make any of it happen.  Just standing there, receiving it, not pulling myself up by my own bootstraps.

After service, we walked to the hallway and were greeted by four of our churches elders.  My friend’s husband was totally one of them and I was relieved to see a familiar face.

They were all so welcoming and friendly.  I was nervous but Davin was there, so that made me feel better.  I can’t tell you exactly what I expected when I thought of meeting the elders and having them pray over me, but it was completely different.

First off, they were so humble. They didn’t act like they were boss over anything, or know-it-alls or authoritative.  They reminded me of what maybe Jesus’ disciples might have been like, all different, but of the same heart.  They acted like Jesus was there, and that he was in charge, not them.  They didn’t act like they had the power to heal me, only that they had the authority to ask God to do something and intervene on my behalf.  I sorta felt like I was back in bible times hanging around his disciples. I know, it’s probably over-imaginative, but that’s how I saw it.  And, I was secretly glad to have imaginarily met four of his disciples.

Then they asked me what was going on.  I explained that since September (after the worship, prayer and healing night at my church), the migraines have been better but are not gone.  I shared how a few weeks ago, the Lord led me to be prayed over at church and I didn’t listen.  I explained I was there to be prayed for out of obedience.  I explained a word picture the Lord gave me when I asked him why I had to pray for something more than once, how he showed me my hands, full of arrows, and a large haystack target in front of me.  He told me that with this specific type of prayer or healing, it isn’t enough to just hit the bullseye once, but that the whole target had to be filled with arrows.  It reminded me of the scripture where it says in Romans 8:26, “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness.  For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words.”  It was like the Lord was showing me there was a lot more to why I was allowed to experience migraines than just a simple one prayer answer.  And although I don’t know or understand all that is behind it, he does.  Each prayer that is prayed, he can interpret before God the Father on my behalf until I am healed.

Having the elders pray for me was shooting more arrows at that target.

Each elder prayed for me.  The first one, the oldest, put some frankincense and myrrh on my forehead.  It wasn’t ceremonial or serious, he was like “Ummmm, should I put some oil on her head?  The other guys were like, “yeah, sure”, “yes, good idea!”  He then read the label and said, “Ohhh, Frankincense and myrrh, this is the good stuff!  I’m totally paraphrasing, but hopefully communicating the gist of it.  We all laughed.

Then we got serious.

Each elder prayed something different and specific over me.

I remember the last one praying protection over me from the enemy.  Because so much of this experience has felt like a spiritual attack.  That was when I felt like the Lord showed me how he has given authority to men, in this case to the elders, to intercede and provide spiritual protection.  I felt shielded.

When my friends husband prayed over me, he said he saw that the the arrows were also about me teaching other people about prayer, that I would take other people’s arrows and shoot them at the target because they did not know how to aim.  That these migraines are not just about me, but will be used to show other people about prayer.  I started tearing up again because I could hardly believe the words he was saying.  This guy doesn’t know me.  He has no idea I’m reading a book on intercession (praying for others – shooting their arrows) and he doesn’t know I’m in a bible study on prayer right now, and that I’m writing all about it on the internet!

Again God was showing me that he was bigger than me, and had orchestrated this whole night.

He showed me that he is sovereign.

When we finished praying, I felt so full of life.  The last guy to pray over me said he felt like prayer and fasting was what the Lord put on his heart to share with me.

I asked God about it later, and I really felt like God put it on my heart to fast this blog, facebook and instagram last week.  I know that sounds like a lame fast, but it’s what I felt like he said.  I wanted SO BAD to write all about this whole thing the minute I got home.  But I’m glad I didn’t because more happened.

That night, I started to feel a very, very slight pinch near my right eyebrow where I typically get a migraine.  That’s all it was.  I could almost see in my mind, Jesus holding it back, pushing it back and saying, I AM keeping this from you.  I thanked him.

The night prior, Davin and I went on a date, and it was the first date in I don’t remember, when I didn’t get a migraine.  We even went go-cart racing.  Not any pain at all.  I felt like God was already honoring my obedience to be prayed over before it even happened.

A few times this week, I’ve started to feel the very beginnings of a migraine.  Instead of me just praying for it, I’ve right away told Davin, and he’s laid hands on me and prayed, and it’s disappeared.  One night I even texted my mom and she prayed and it faded right away.  This doesn’t just happen.

This didn’t ever used to happen.

It used to be that the pain would only get worse the longer I waited to take drugs.  Until it was almost unbearable.  It used to last thee days, with drugs.  Every 6 hours the pain returning until I took more drugs.

Then, the other day, we went out to celebrate my mom’s birthday.  I had started to feel the beginnings of a migraine a bit earlier in the day.  Davin prayed over me and it mostly (but not completely) went away.  I thought about texting my parents, but I didn’t want to bother them. Then at the restaurant, it started to get worse very quickly, so much so that I was beginning to feel nauseous and couldn’t’ really concentrate.  Not wanting to be a bother, I went to reach for my stash of pain reliever (which I haven’t taken since my last post on migraines) and my mom asked what was wrong.  She said, let’s pray right now before I could even pull any out.  She told my dad, and right there, in the middle of a bar during happy hour, my parents and husband prayed over me.  It wasn’t loud or attention drawing, just a quiet prayer.  I started to feel better, but when she asked a few minutes later how it was, I told her that it wasn’t completely gone.  So they prayed again for me.  And again, twenty minuets later.  Then, my migraine was gone.  The nausea was gone, the throbbing gone, the sharp grip on my skull was unexplainably gone.

How can I explain all of this?  If I weren’t the one experiencing it, I’m not sure I’d really believe it.  I would want to rationalize it, saying things like, “oh, she must have stopped eating something that was causing it, or oh she took the proper mix of supplements and that aided it.”  My mind would keep looking for a physical solution that occurred to explain it in my own reality.  Because in my reality, if I have a problem, I must do something that costs me to fix it.  I must try hard, or make it happen.  I must do something.

But I’m not the one doing anything.

Others are.

But mostly God is.

This experience is stumbling.  All my realities and truths of how things work are stumbling all over it.

Guys, God wants to heal us.  From REALLY BIG stuff.  From stuff that doctors say we can’t be healed from.  From physical pain, from emotional pain.  From our past.  From the very things WE think we can never, ever, ever fix ourselves.  Because we can’t.

He can.

And he might not even use you to do it.

He might use others.

I am learning that the reason he created the church, is so that we would be connected.  I was never meant to be able to pray for myself all the time, to baptize myself or to teach myself about God’s word with just him and me by myself all the time.  We were designed to be connected.  This is a new concept to me.  It probably shouldn’t be, because I thrive so much due to my very deep and wonderful friendships in Christ, but it is.

Sometimes God wants to use others.

Sometimes he wants us to feel the grace of being prayed over by a fidgety, adorable 8 year old boy.  To have my mom stop in the middle of her birthday dinner and pray for me, four times. So that when I walked out of that restaurant, I walked home with a gift, and it wasn’t my special day.

So, that’s all I have so far.

I am learning tons in the books, but nothing teaches quite like real life experience, which is why I am probably still in shock, because it’s easy to read about something and think, “yeah, that’s how it should work, that sounds right.”  It’s another thing entirely to live it out.  To have pain gone, for no reason other than prayer, and to not be the one making it disappear.  I haven’t bled my eyes out in prayer over this, I haven’t starved myself and fasted and tried really, really hard.  All I’ve done is TRY to be obedient (which I wasn’t even that good at), and try to ask for prayer from others when I start to feel pain.  That’s it.

That my friends is a crazy, crazy, reality altering experience, and I still can’t fit it into my box of how things should work and be and go.  It makes NO sense, not to this control loving girl.

I’m sure I will write more as I learn.  But until then I’ve figured out that God is sovereign and he intended for us to be connected and that I am not the boss of my world.

Thank you for reading.

Healing and Jesus Fries

I have a migraine.

Why am I writing right at this very moment when I’m shaky and feel like I want to throw up?

Because I want to do the very thing I think the enemy is trying to keep me from doing.

Speaking truth about who God is.  Last time I tried to sit down and type out this truth, I got a migraine and didn’t finish it.

So this might be a super crappy post.

But I don’t even care, because it’s my best attempt at saying, “God is bigger and better then barf and headaches and pain and more pain.”

My head started hurting earlier this evening, right as I sat down for church.

I unfortunately get migraines on a regular basis.  After years of prayer, they are better then they were, but they are still not gone, and they can still be terrible and of course inconvenient.

I typically get them when I am in a place where I could enjoy myself and find rest, for example: my husband and I are about to go on a date, I’m in church, when I should be sleeping or when I have time to reflect and write.

I feel like there’s a pattern.  I feel like they might be spiritual and the enemy is trying to rob me in my times of peace.

But really, what do I know?  All I know is when I get them, I want them to go away and they make me question what I’m doing wrong in my life to have them in the first place.

They are also always on the right side of my head.  And it feels like a 1/2 metal rod has been shoved through my eye socket up and out of the back of my scull.

That’s descriptive and lovely.  Sorry about that.

In church tonight, as we were getting up to leave and go pick up our kids, I felt like the Lord said, “have someone at church pray for you, go ASK for prayer.”

I was like, ummmmm (drumming up some good excuses), “I don’t want to bother anyone, it’s not that bad, I’ll be okay.”  I added on for good measure, “my dad’s a pastor, and I love his prayers, I’ll have him pray for me” and then, “my mom is an intercessor, she will pray and mean it, (she wields a giant spiritual sword)” and to end it, besides, “my husband loves me and his prayers for me are like treasures, I love hearing him pray for me and I’ve been healed at different times by each one of their prayers.”  It wasn’t that explicit when I said it, but basically I was telling God, “I have like three super qualified people to pray over me, I am so blessed already, there are people here who maybe don’t even have ONE person to pray over them, why would I ASK for help from our church?  I don’t want to bother anyone.”

Because praying for people in a church is a bother.

And I’m an idiot who still has a migraine at 4 in the morning.

It’s starting to feel a little bit better.  But I’m still shaking.

Here is what I understand about Jesus and healing… not very much.

Why does he allow pain in the first place?  That is a ten-jillion theologian page book in itself, but sometimes Jesus’ answer is, “so that God may be glorified.”

But everything Jesus ever did on the earth, was to show us more of who God was, to bring us closer to God, his Father which in the process, made us healed and whole.  It really seems to me that the Father is glorified when we know who he is, and when we know who he is, we become healed and whole.  There’s something to that.  From the outside, it sounds like, “oh it’s all about God and his glory, but actually he sent his ONLY son, to die for US.  It’s not about our glory, but it sure sounds like it’s a lot about us being rescued and saved, healed and whole and his glory looks a lot more like the sacrifice of a dying soldier then a dude on a throne who people worship and throw flowers at.

Here is an interesting look at healing in the first book of Matthew chapter 15. verses 21-28.

The Faith of a Canaanite Woman.  Her story is a bummer at first, but it ends well.

21 And Jesus went away from there and withdrew to the district of Tyre and Sidon. 22 And behold, a Canaanite woman from that region came out and was crying, “Have mercy on me, O Lord, Son of David; my daughter is severely oppressed by a demon.” 23 But he did not answer her a word. 

Say WHHHHHHAAAAT?  Jesus legit ignored her.  That does not sound like the “nice” Jesus I know.

Does Jesus REALLY ignore people?  I thought he was always, super-nice-guy.  Ignoring seems so rude.

Here’s the thing I’ve noticed about Jesus.  In the bible, he does everything for the benefit of those around him (and for the future readers of the bible, like you and I, he is multifaceted like that).  In this case, the best thing for this woman to have a real encounter with Jesus, was for Jesus to ignore her.  How crazy is that? 

Let’s read on.

“And his disciples came and begged him, saying, “Send her away, for she is crying out after us.” He answered, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.” 

Again, she is ignored and the excuse is because she is not a Jew, the people group chosen by God.  Canaanite’s according to the commentary on biblegateway.com were, “bitter biblical enemies of Israel whose paganism had often led Israel into idolatry.”  But she doesn’t care, she even goes so far as to bothers his disciples, so much so that they, “came and begged him saying, “send her away” for she is crying out after us.”  She must have been determined, insistent, over-the-top obnoxious, not caring about social rules or status, not caring about looking like an idiot.

I can just hear her screaming like a crazy woman, “SAVE MY CHILD!!! Don’t you care?!  HELP ME!!!” – reminds me of reality-tv people going for good ratings.

Yet, Jesus says no again, replying, “I was sent to the lost sheep of Israel”. (strike 2)

But there’s more

“25 But she came and knelt before him, saying, “Lord, help me.” 

26 And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” 

He is still telling her no appears to be speaking to her as the Jewish leaders might have, putting her in her social place. (that’s 3)

“27 She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.” 

A humble and wise response, she is attempting to persuade God, And humbling herself in the process.  Now her heart is in the right place, she has moved her attention PAST herself, and onto Jesus and his business.

28 Then Jesus answered her, “O woman, great is your faith!   Be it done for you as you desire.” And her daughter was healed instantly.

I seriously doubt that the Jewish fancy-pants leaders would have ever prayed for healing for her, so Jesus was basically breaking down those social barriers but anyway, that’s another type of commentary. This story is crazy.  I used to think that Jesus was all about going around and healing people instantly.  Fixin’ stuff.  But healing is not what she really needed first.

Why does he draw her out, make her wait?  She goes through the motions of seeking, asking, and begging, she gets rejected BY Jesus, three times.  What could be worse then getting rejected by Jesus?  How awful in your life story, “This one time, I was rejected by the Son of God, three times…”  But she wasn’t ever really rejected was she?  He knew she wasn’t going home without what she came for.

Sometimes Jesus heals people in an instant: BAM healing.  Other times he first says, “go, your sins are forgiven”, while they sit there still crippled, then he heals them too after a sec (Mark 2:1-12). In one instance, a lady touches his robe (Matthew 9:20) and she is healed without him saying anything and he acts all surprised saying, “who touched me?”  Do you really think he didn’t know?  No, the dude is God in the flesh, but he responds that way for her unique benefit, and she humbles herself in her response to God.

Back to Strike 3 Lady.  Why did he tell her no three times?  I thought when we ask God for something, he wants to give it to us right away if it aligns with the bible.  The bible is pretty down on people being possessed by demons, so we can assume it was God’s will to heal this little girl of demon possession, so why did he wait?

Perhaps to grow the Canaanite Woman’s faith in the process?  Jesus is always saying in the bible, “by your faith you are healed”.

Like me, tonight in church.  How much faith did I really have?

Well, what does faith mean?

Hebrews 11:1 says, “now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.”

Sure and certain.

Those two words.

When I am sure and certain of something, I will stop at nothing to go after it.

I WANTED my migraine to go away.  I assumed it would get worse as they normally do until I am crying and have to make myself throw up just so I can fall asleep again in the middle of the night and get at least the nausea to go away.  But I didn’t stop at nothing.  I stopped right at the doorstep of pride.  Pride is the doormat you have to walk over to get into the house of healing.  You have to get over your pride before you can get into God’s healing.

IMG_6849
Big girl shoes on the doormat of pride, probably a little bit of how God sees us.

I wasn’t sure and certain enough to humble myself.  Really that’s the truth behind the “facts” I told God.  It’s not that I don’t believe my family can pray for me and heal me.  It’s that I didn’t want to have healing the way he directed me to have it.  I didn’t want to go up to some nice strangers and tell them I needed them.  To say, “Hey, I have this problem, and I’VE prayed about it and it’s NOT going away.  I’ve prayed and prayed and prayed, and I STILL need help. I’ve done everything in my mind I can do, and it’s still not fixed.”  How humiliating is that? Maybe I’m just prideful but I don’t like the idea of going up to super nice strangers who ARE THERE TO HELP ME, and telling them I need help.  I want to solve it in my own way. (There are SO many biblical examples of that, so at least I’m not alone).

Because what if the nice people at church think I’m pathetic, and not good at praying, and wonder if I really know Jesus at all because if I did and he really talked to me, I’d be right as rain this very moment.

But they don’t wonder any of those things.  Because when I get to pray for someone I am delighted.  I am so happy to stand with my brother or sister in the Lord and intervene on their behalf.  It’s makes me feel like I still have a purpose.  It is a reminder to me that God is using me, that I’m still USEFUL to him, which is what I desire most in this very world, to be someone that God still says, “hey, I can use this girl”.  Some of my most favorite, best experiences in life have to do with being in the presence of God. He is so beyond peaceful, beyond all the distractions, beyond all my doubts and questions and misunderstandings.  Even when I’m in his presence for just a second, I begin to feel better.

What if God wanted to use someone tonight to help heal me?

And I took my reasons and handed them up to God in list form.

And I didn’t get to experience healing.  Because I wan’t humble.

According to the dictionary, humble means: having or showing a modest or low estimate of one’s own importance.

Like we aren’t the one’s who are most important when we go to God and ask him for things. We hold the position that HIS will is still the most important.

And sometimes, I don’t think we always want that.  We want our will, with a side of Jesus, like he’s the fries in our delicious meal of self.  Jesus fries.

Jesus is never the fries.  He’s the whole meal.  We aren’t even the fries.  We aren’t even the ketchup leftover stain on the table from the meal prior.  And yet he loves us, and wants to heal us and to give us what we ask for.

But not until we stop negotiating with the Lord.  And I didn’t hand over that migraine to the Lord tonight, I held onto it and said I knew how to fix it myself, I had the solution.

And where did that get me?

Barf city.

I should have said, “Okay God, I REALLY want THIS (healing in the comfort of my own home by my family’s prayers), BUT, seriously if you have something better (nice strangers praying for me), something that is more your plan, even if I don’t like it – I’m down, let’s go that route, I’ll step out of my comfort zone, I surrender.”

And I have to mean it.

And I have to act on it.

It totally doesn’t count if I just say it like a wish to the sky.

This usually involves part of ME dying.  Myself.  My will.  My pride.  And me saying and big fat, “YES” to God and his plans.

Because it’s not my will, it’s his.  Because it’s not about me.  It’s about him.  When my eyes are on him, I get better.

So maybe you want something really bad, something that is good and lines up with the bible.  Maybe you’ve been asking for a long time, and you FEEL like he’s ignoring you.  He’s not.  He might be waiting for you to simply humble yourself and give it over to him, saying,

“I trust you enough that even if I NEVER get this thing I want the way I want it, I still trust you, and believe that you are good.  I’m giving it to you.  I surrender.”

And if you can’t say that prayer just yet in all honesty, tell him you can’t, but that you wish you could, and then ask him to help you get there.

Then, if he tells you to go to church and ask the nice strangers to pray for you, listen to him and go, don’t be dumb like me and hold onto your pride while you suffer in pain.  Don’t be dumb like me!

And, by the way, somehow over the last two hours and a bowl of Joe’s O’s, the migraine is gone.

See how much I know about healing?  Not very much.  The migraines I tend to get usually last three days.  Fortunately, God knows everything and I don’t have to.  I just have to know him.

And, side note, in church tonight, we learned that we are the introducer guy, the one who introduces others to the one who can actually help them.  So here’s the introduction for whoever this post was actually written for, because the enemy did everything he was allowed to do to stop it from being written.  So if it’s you this is written for, run to God and do whatever he says.  He had some big plans for you whoever you are.  Don’t even wait, find a bible and go right now to the only one who can help you, heal you and make you whole, his name is Jesus.

Outfits

Here’s a story about outfits – both physical AND metaphorical.  It’s deeper than it sounds.

It starts a few weeks back when I was searching for a Christmas outfit for a tea I was going to sing at.  I was pretty excited about it, because I haven’t sang at anything for like a couple of years.  And I actually at one point thought, maybe I wouldn’t get to sing anymore, but then God was like, “Okay, breaks over, you can sing again!”.

So, I was really, really excited, because when I sing, I feel like I get to say in my best, most clear voice: who God is, and what He’s done.  I can’t explain it super good in words, but I feel like a big part of my soul gets to connect with Jesus, and even join with other people when we all praise the same God.  It just feels amazing and I love it.  It’s what I imagine heaven to be like in a way.

Singing is also great, because it’s like a very concentrated time of focusing on just God.  I can’t think about laundry very well when I’m singing to Jesus, so it’s great for undistracted focus on Him.

That all being said, I was pretty jazzed about finding the perfect “debut” outfit for singing.  At this point I thought that was high on the importance level: finding an outfit.

So I picked a dress, but it was more of a leggings dress, so after scouring all the stores, I ordered some cranberry leggings online.  I figured once they showed, I could then move onto picking shoes.  All the men have just checked out of my story, I’m sorry, it gets better.

Saturday comes (6 days to the tea countdown) and no leggings in the mail.  They were lost. Among a few other life stressers, this was topping my list.  So when my husband sat me down and asked me what was wrong on a frazzled Saturday morning, and I said my leggings hadn’t shown up in the mail he had a confused look.

I told him they were important.  I told him how important my outfit was.

Then he asked, “doesn’t the bible say something about not worrying about what you’re going to wear?”.

Yes.

Yes it does.

Stinkers, he was right.  Again, I am stumbling all over my stupid self.  I can’t even get to a tea to sing without bumbling all over about nothing.

So, I prayed with him, and gave my leggings to Jesus.  And it was kinda hard.

Then in church that night, in worship, I gave my whole outfit to him again.  I felt so much better.  I would wear whatever he said.  It didn’t matter.

As our pastor was introducing a new series about Being Jesus.  He said something like, the reason Jesus was born was so that He could die.  The whole culmination of His life was so that He could die on the cross for us.  It was his BIG moment.

Then Jesus said to me, “And I didn’t even get to pick my outfit.”

Yes.  He said that.

I felt like an idiot.  And I was also laughing in my head.

Just to attempt to compare the importance of Jesus’ BIG moment, and me having an outfit for a tea – it’s mathematically impossible, because my life itself in all it’s summation is not even a speck of dust in the entire universe compared to anything Jesus.

And yet, He still talks to me, and makes jokes in church.

Besides, He didn’t even get to wear pants on the cross.  AND, they put a crown of thorns on His head.  That had to be not only humiliating but painful.  Blood was His accessory.

jesus-on-cross-0101

And I was worried about my leggings.  And I am lame.

Skip to the tea.

My leggings were re-shipped, I found shoes.  Everything was fine.

We sang.  People had an opportunity to worship God.

Here is the interesting thing, this is where the other outfit comes in.  The metaphorical one.

Old me, old worship leader me, would have sang and felt like that was apart of who I was.

But this time, it was different.

I felt free.

Old me would have wrapped herself in a cloak that said, “singer, or worship leader, or worship team member-fancy pants”.

That cloak is heavy, it’s made of steel and iron.  It’s like a magnet that people can throw heavy objects of criticism to and they stick.  It drags the wearer down, down and down to the ground. It’s full of judgement, and fear of failure, it’s restricting and limiting, and keeps my head to the ground in hopelessness.  It’s also full of pride, and self glory, and it resembles someone else who is an enemy of God.  It’s a horrible, dark and ugly cloak to wear.

The original cloak came off when our church closed and I was out of ministry for almost three years. For three years I asked God who I was.  If I wasn’t a worship leader, then who was I? Where did I get my value?  My worth?  What did I DO to deserve Jesus?

Years and years, I built who I was around what I thought I did for God.

My works.

Me.

After he stripped all that away, I was almost afraid to go back to any of it.

But this time it was different.

This time I didn’t’ put the cloak back on.

How?  I’m still not sure, other then Jesus made that happen.

He helped me finally understand that He loves me unconditionally.  He doesn’t love me because I sing for Him.  He doesn’t love me because I try to be a good christian.  He doesn’t love me for my efforts.  He doesn’t love me for anything I “do.”

He loved us first.  His love is enough.

And you know what else?  He took another cloak off me the next day.

My homemaker/mother/wife cloak.

The one where I tied my identity and value to what I do at home.  How hard I work all day in my roles as a mother, wife and homemaker.  The cloak where I find my value in who I am, based on what I accomplish, how perfect my kids behave, how tasty and on time dinner is, how clean my home is and how organized my life appears.

Realizing that I can relax because Jesus, the God of the entire universe, the maker of it all, loves me just for who I am – His.  My performance, success, failure, efforts – none of it are tied to who I am.  I am just His.

Do you even understand how chill I have become the last two days?  This is THE BEST Christmas gift I’ve ever been given.  EVER!

How did this truth elude me for years?

His love, His action of dying for me is enough.  It covers it all.  He did it.  Not me.  He does it, not me.

God’s yoke is easy and his burden is light. (Matthew 11:30).  That could totally say cloak in another version, I’m just saying (it doesn’t but still, they rhyme.)

He doesn’t want me wearing any cloaks of self identity.

Just walking freely with Him.  In cranberry leggings, apparently;-)