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Sunday, May 30, 2010

Like Nothing I've Ever Experienced Before

It's been a truly amazing 24 hours. Most around me think it's just an ordinary day in my life. But today is no ordinary day. This is going to be a little hard to explain.

You know, there are some people that can tell you the exact day they became Christians. They remember the exact moment, where they were, what they were doing, and they can tell you every detail. I can't.

If you don't have a conversion story, you don't have a conversion. If you can't look back to a time in your life when you've turned from your sin and embraced by faith Jesus Christ's death on the cross as your only basis for forgiveness before God, then the wrath of God abides on you until you do. I have a conversion story. I just don't remember that date. A know that there was a time in my life when I headed in a different direction. I know why, and I know how. Just not sure when.

But after that day, I was on fire for God. He showed me in so many ways how He had gifted me for ministry and how He wanted to use me to impact this world as an ambassador for Jesus Christ. If you're a Christian, He has gifted you with talents, abilities and motivation to serve and edify the body. Pray and find out what that gift is, and how God will use you to edify His body.

My spiritual gift (motivation for ministry) is clearly exhortation. I was created to encourage others to know Christ and to make Him known. God has, I believe, clearly called me to evangelism. It's amazing that God would call a foolish, tongue-tied guy who hates making conversations with strangers to evangelism, but that's why He gets the glory.

For almost 2 years, I've done nothing for the Lord. When's the first post of this blog? When's the 2nd? The 3rd? My point exactly. This blog is an exact record of my spiritual journey over that time. An exact record of my prayer time, bible study, conversations with nonbelievers about Jesus...everything. For the past two years, I've been spiritually dead of my own choosing.

It's amazing how life, and the cares of this world, can choke out the Word of God. Just like Jesus said. And you know what? There is zero fulfillment in living life for yourself. Especially when you are born again.

Many Saturdays and Sunday mornings in my home are frustrating. It's a spiritual battle because church is Sunday, and it's a temporal battle because Ethan's "2" and Gabriel's little. And daddy's selfish. Very selfish.

This Saturday was no different. As Ethan, tired from the crawfish boil, began to act up, daddy again lost his cool. I can't imagine how scary it is for a two year old boy when his dad tries to intimidate him into submission, because his dad can't display more maturity than that little boy can. But that's what happened. It was a familiar scene in my home. Too familiar.

For the past few weeks, every time I lose my temper or react like a bonehead that has no self-conrol, I felt like, "Do you look ANYTHING like Jesus?" No, dad, the truth is that you DON'T look anything like Jesus.

So Saturday night's frustrations led to the following Tweet:

"Welcome to Saturday freaking night. So sick of these spiritual battles it makes me want to vomit. Not sure how much more I can take."

Then came Sunday. Actually, everything was okay this morning. Even left for church on time. Ethan was even in a sort of good mood!

Worship practice went fine. Everything was normal.

As we went through the worship service, everything seemed normal.

Until the final song. It was "Amazing Grace/My Chains Are Gone" (the Chris Tomlin song). You need to understand that while I'm passionate about worship, I have never been moved to tears in worship. Until today. As I stood up on stage, I felt as though God lifted me away from that place for a couple brief moments, took me aside, put me on His knee like a loving Heavenly Father, and told me that He loved me. That He missed me. That His grace was sufficient for me, if only I would quit running and trying to do things my way. I have never had an emotional experience that powerful with God.

As worship ended, I left the building, because I needed to hide. It was almost like I couldn't take what had just happened. I cried out to God like I never have before. No words could possibly describe what the Lord did in my Spirit today. It wasn't a vision. It wasn't an audible voice. It wasn't wierd or cooky. It was just God reaching down and letting me know that He is real, and He loves me, and He's gifted me, and He wants to use me in a mighty way to impact this world with the good news of Jesus Christ.

After church, I had a conversation with my buddy Charlie. We both know that God has put us together to reach the lost in Lafayette, and to encourage our church and other Christians to share their faith. But today, he encouraged my heart with his determination to seek the lost. I need a guy like Charlie in my life so much. We need each other, and we feed off of each other. Campus Crusade for Christ says that only 5% of Christians share their faith regularly. I need to be around people who do, because that's what I've been created for. God is laying on both of our hearts the same things. He's creating in us a zeal for bigger, bolder steps in sharing our faith and encouraging our church to do the same. I'm very excited to see what the Lord's going to do. How exciting to know why you were created and to be fulfilling that purpose. Why did I let myself get so distracted?

There's much more to it than this. Much of it is private within myself, that no one will ever know. Much of it is simply not here because I don't have the words today. But I know that I've been given a gift today.

Today is a new day. Finally, I feel back at home. God says that we are blessed if we believe in what we cannot see. While I didn't see with my physical eyes today, I see with my spiritual eyes in a way that I haven't ever seen before. The small glimpse of the glory of God that I saw today was almost more than I could take. I almost wanted to beg for it to stop.

So was today an emotional experience that will fade? Or a life-altering outpouring of God's Holy Spirit on my life? This is the record of that journey. It's time to return to my first love, and do the things I did at first.

Most of all, I'm thankful today for an incredibly patient and faithful wife who stands by me no matter what, and for a loving Heavenly Father who wants to use this foolish man to confound the wise.

"Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved." How, then, can they call on the one they have not believed in? And how can they believe in the one of whom they have not heard? And how can they hear without someone preaching to them? And how can they preach unless they are sent? As it is written, "How beautiful are the feet of those who bring good news!"
- Romans 10:13-15

Edited to add:
The Lord tried recently to reach out to me. He used, of all things, a song on the radio. But as usual, I wasn't listening. When I know I have Ethan's best intersts at heart, and He ignores me, I get very frustrated. How I must've frustrated the heart of my Heavenly Father, who loves me and has nothing but my best and highest purposes in mind. If only He could get me to listen! Today, I'm listening, Father. Here I am, Lord. Send me. I will go for you.

Here are the words to the song. They pretty much describe the exact place I find myself tonight. Except tonight, I'm listening. I've seen His glory.

Here are the words to the song.

Sanctus Real - “Lead Me”

I look around and see my wonderful life
Almost perfect from the outside
In picture frames I see my beautiful wife
Always smiling
But on the inside, I can hear her saying...

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

I see their faces, look in their innocent eyes
They're just children from the outside
I'm working hard, I tell myself they'll be fine
They're in independent
But on the inside, I can hear them saying...

“Lead me with strong hands
Stand up when I can't
Don't leave me hungry for love
Chasing dreams, but what about us?

Show me you're willing to fight
That I'm still the love of your life
I know we call this our home
But I still feel alone”

So Father, give me the strength
To be everything I'm called to be
Oh, Father, show me the way
To lead them
Won't You lead me?

To lead them with strong hands
To stand up when they can't
Don't want to leave them hungry for love,
Chasing things that I could give up

I'll show them I'm willing to fight
And give them the best of my life
So we can call this our home
Lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone

Father, lead me, 'cause I can't do this alone



Listen to it here.

If you've read this far, please pray for me. That my heart would be good soil, not choking out God's Word. Pray for boldness to preach the Gospel, open hearts, and a love for the lost that swallows up my fears. Pray that I would lead my family instead of leaving them hungry for love. Thank you.

3 comments:

  1. Oh my goodness.... You got me crying...God has so much in store for you...I know this because you are a broken man right now who has been humbled by the glory of God. I am incredibly touched by this blog. You have no idea how much you have humbled me as well. Please continue to share and I certainly am continuing to pray. I could write an entire blog on what you have shared here. Wow.

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  2. God's timing is always perfect! Let me (Jesse's wife) briefly share my part of the experience Sunday to complete the story...

    I was exhausted. Two nights of little sleep, being gone all day Saturday, dealing with my husband and my 2-year-old fighting Saturday night while I held the baby and felt helpless... My body, heart, mind, and spirit were not in the best place. During worship both boys were in the nursery as usual. I was standing in the back of the sanctuary as usual. But I was so tired and my feet hurt. I ended up sitting down halfway through. I made sure the beeper for nursery was where I would feel it if I was paged (if there was a problem with one of the boys). In my other pocket was my phone, set to vibrate only.

    I couldn't see Jesse singing because I was sitting down and everyone in front of me was standing. So I had no idea he was crying. But God was working on me as well... As I sat there singing, I felt a strong vibration. My first thought was to check my beeper but it was still in stand-by. I hadn't been paged. My next thought was, "Wow! I guess that was my phone! I've never felt it vibrate so strongly!" I took it out. Normally I would have waited until announcements to check the text but the strong vibration had me curious! I saw the text was from Twitter. Usually I don't check my tweets right away. But this time I did. It was from @air1radio - the verse of the day. "Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance. 1 Cor. 13:7" I knew God was speaking to ME through that tweet. And I knew that something about the timing was going to be important.

    Well, I didn't know about Jesse's experience till he blogged it. He needed time to process it and by the time he wrote this I was already asleep. I read it in the middle of the night half-asleep as I was feeding the baby. And had completely forgotten about the tweet. When I got up today, I remembered and put everything together. I explained to Jesse everything I typed here.

    It's so awesome how God was working on both of us, at the exact same time!!! Just confirmation that He wants His children to know He loves them and cares for them and is working things out, if we get out of the way and let Him...

    Love you, Jesse, my soul-twin!!!

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  3. Thanks, and I love you too...always...

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