My heart swells for you and for what I wish to communicate to you. Every time the Holy Spirit leads me into truth, every time I realize something beautiful He has done, I am overwhelmed with a burning desire to speak to His people about His greatness.
That is happening again right now. Since being back in the States, I have started writing over ten different blogs -- but I have no idea how to finish them. I've been planning on writing out the details and insights of my trip chronologically (and quickly), but it's not happening. I don't know why, but I trust His sovereignty.
Let me tell you why my heart is burning today. I came across a list I wrote before going to North Africa. On it were weakness of mine and difficulties I anticipated. I nearly wept as I recalled not only my inadequacies, but His surpassingly gracious provision. I was expecting to be under the heavy weight of oppression and darkness, and I was willing and even excited about the victory that would stem from that. But my King and Father saw it fit to cover over everything for me.
I thought I would experience loneliness,
but I have never interacted so intimately with Jesus Christ.
I thought I was going to be aware of darkness and fear,
but my only atmosphere was the Light of Christ. It was stronger than anything else, and I carried it with me everywhere I went -- to cities without any believers!
I thought the powers of darkness were going to hinder and discourage me,
but I experienced an unstoppable joy as I effortlessly rested in the victory of the Resurrection.
I thought I was going to be attacked with memories of former sins,
but He continually renewed the freshness of His grace to me throughout each day without mention of my sin.
This is what confounds me the most: I have been asking Him for years to break my heart for the lost, but He won't do it. The more I ask to be broken, the more joy He gives me in His presence for making me His own. He is so gracious; I can barely take it in. There is no one like Him!
The memories I have of this time overseas are one thing; the symbolism it has on my life is another. Before I explain further, I need to tell you something else: I jumped off a cliff.
I was fearless and at rest, which was peculiar to me based on what I knew I was about to do. Excitement calmed me, strangely. The cliff was a mere thirty feet above the Mediterranean. The wind was blowing my hair. My mind was clear. I could hear conversations in Arabic all around me. It was nearly sunset, and everything had a gold hue. I breathed deep, braced the wind, and ran to the edge of the cliff. I flew forward, putting myself entirely at the mercy of what would catch me. I couldn't contain a smile as my stomach rose while my body fell.
Seconds later I broke the surface of the water. My smile grew. When I came to the surface again, my ears were welcomed by applause behind the sound of my own laughter. I looked up at the sky in joyful gratitude and began swimming back to the foot of the cliff.
This memory is treasured in my heart. It also sums up my time in that particular country: There were dangers and risks, but each one was worth it. I could have made myself anxious by dwelling on what it could cost me, but all that I received was joy in His presence because He brought me to a place of rest as He fought for me. He just wants to be gracious to me; no strings attached. "The blessing of the Lord makes rich, and He adds no sorrow with it." Proverbs 10:22. Selah.
Also, it is very fitting to mention that only about four months before I went to North Africa, I was in a hard season of discipline and deconstruction. I "messed up" big time, and thought it was going to be years before I would be restored. But my Jesus healed me quickly and brought me to safety in surrender. Praise Him with me, because He is not treating me as my sins deserve! He is giving me beauty instead of ashes and confident access to His throne of grace. I can't get over how good He is to me, and I never want to leave His presence. This grace is an ocean of its own, and is offered to you. Take it from someone who has jumped in already -- it is amazing here!
Church, I am begging you, for the unified sake of His glory and your joy -- REST! Ask Him to show you what this means. His Spirit will lead you into all Truth, and He will make His voice heard. He is stronger than our enemy. If the risen Christ is for you, who could be against you? You're already on the winning side. Enjoy!
Remember your VIP pass into His presence. Meditate on His unfailing love. Discover all you are in Him, and all He is in you. There is power in the blood, there is victory in Jesus, and I long for you to get a taste of it. Let the hearts of those who seek the Lord rejoice!