This year we have been speaking a message in our traveling based on two words that God gave us for 2016 - Adventure and Advancement. Unpacking these words for more than a message has been a year of journey and discovery with God in many areas of my (Lorraine) life. One of the aspects of this word has been accepting the invitation of the Father into a mysterious encounter and Adventure with Him - A journey into Friendship with God. In friendship we’ll say and do things that we would most likely never do on our own; for fear, for personal constraints, for lack of courage, bravery, or creativity, wisdom (!?), “want to”… you name it.
In this message we’ve challenge leaders, churches, individuals to consider the things that are holding or preventing them (you, me, us) from moving into this deeper, wider, tighter - more tightly knit place of intimacy with God - He’s more than our Master. He’s more than our Father. He’s our Friend, and He calls US friend - you and me He calls His Friend. This one area of Friendship with God, in 2016, has been life changing for me personally. Since I can remember, probably since about four years old, I’ve had a deep love-affair with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. But something amazing has happened to me and for me, and many times in spite of me, this year, with regard to this mysterious place of knowing and experiencing God as MY FRIEND.
In this journey of learning Friendship with Him, He has lead me kindly, but persistently, to know, understand, acknowledge and comprehend those things, accumulated “crap”, if you will, preventing and blocking me from knowing Him more, experiencing Him more, enjoying Him more, loving Him more, trusting Him more. You know what I mean… the MORE He desired for and with me. I wasn’t feeling dis-connected from God, far away from Him, but in the beauty of innocent ignorance I began to feel a deep deep deep pulling toward Him, at a level that sometimes has been gut wrenching - not in a bad way, but a wonderfully good painful sort of way. What felt like a deep deep deep pulling toward Him, I discovered, was me wading through stuff, hindering me from moving quickly toward Him into this deeper, more tightly knit place of intimacy with Him. It was clear to me that I had been unknowingly accumulating baggage in my life’s journey - some baggage that at one point had actually been luggage in a particular past season. This was shocking to me, because I’ve never been one to “hold onto stuff” - in the seen or unseen realm. But part of what God began to reveal to me, was that as a result of several deeply painful experiences, betrayals, losses, and disappointments, back-to-back, in a short period of time - because I am an over-comer and didn’t have a clue the need, value, or knowledge of what role “grieving” would and should play in my life with regard to these things, I pulled myself up by my boot-straps, invited God’s help (cried out for, pleaded for and demanded God’s help!) and then “over-came” it! It took a while, but “I did it!” All well-intentioned. All with the belief that’s how it should look. Thinking I had done it. I had survived. Only to discover that some “stuff” was still hanging around - actually “stuff” I totally overlooked, wasn’t ready, able, aware of, or tooled to really deal with, before now. I had baggage that was getting in the way of the MORE He desired for me and with me.
SURELY, YOU DON'T HAVE BAGGAGE!
What baggage - what “stuff” of life is in the way of you moving into a deeper level of intimacy, closeness and Friendship with Father God? Friendship with Jesus? Friendship with Holy Spirit? What successes of the past, what failures of the past, what pain and disappointment of the past, what pleasures and joy of the past do we need to let go of and release in order to move into the MORE of God, and honestly, the MORE of ourselves? Without letting go of the past - the good, the bad, and the ugly, we will unknowingly be framing our future through a reference of what is past us! Trying to move forward while our gaze is held in the rear-view mirror. Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has it entered our heart or mind all that God has for us (I Corinthians 2:9)! It’s ahead of us… NOT behind us.
There is beauty in what lies behind us.
There is maturity in what lies behind us. There is a world of great and moving life experiences that lie behind us. BUT THEY ARE BEHIND US. He has a NEW Adventure awaiting us. What NEW - never yet before seen, experienced, known, understood, encountered, enjoyed, endured, created, or manifested Adventure is waiting for you in the Kingdom (Isaiah 42:9; Isaiah 43:18-19)?
What THING, PERSON, DREAM is waiting for you to grieve and release so you can embrace the MORE - the NEW? There is a NEW glory waiting for us; an ever increasing glory. A new face on TRUSTING and HOLDING TIGHT is waiting for us. God may be asking you to stand still for a moment here at the end of 2016 and actually grieve some-thing/s, some-one/s, some-dream/s. Grieving really is about working through and cleaning out the clutter of your heart, kind of like cleaning out your closet. I started that process in April. Bags of clothes, shoes, purses, scarves, jewelry - all beautiful in a past season of my life. All (well mostly all) loved, valued, needed, worn and even cherished. But they had to go - and it felt weird because so much of it was still “looking good”. In August I did it again - this time getting rid of stuff I had worn only a month prior - but it no longer fit. Brand new it was, but I wouldn’t be wearing it into 2017. When I got done, hanging in my closet were only a few articles of clothing - and of those were a few nice pieces of clothing I really love and honestly could keep wearing with some minor alternations (I thought!) - well maybe keep wearing for a while, because I have no intention of staying where I presently am, or returning to where I’ve been.
Costly? Yes. It is costly. But beautiful. Time? Yes. It takes time. But worth every moment. Scary? Yes. Scary as hell. But an exhilarating encounter when you embrace it with anticipation of good coming (this is HOPE!). Possible? Yes. Sometimes it feels absolutely IMpossible. But ALL-things, EVERY-thing is/are possible with God.
Like a trapeze artist you must let go.
You must let go of your current safe place, life-line, protection, pain, loss, security, success, strength (whatever it is!) and feel the freedom, unchartered or known, unrestrained, unprotected or determined, perhaps scary space that is waiting for you to breakthrough into and grab hold of. He is with you - and He’s smiling - cause He knows YOU CAN DO IT! He’s waiting for you to embrace the THRILL of the moment, the anticipation of the NEW, the EXCITEMENT of the unknown. YOU CAN DO IT because He is with you. The Helper. The Comforter. The Teacher. The Guide.
What do you need to grieve? Be honest with yourself and with God... He's waiting for you to let Him know you more deeply. He's not afraid of your pain. Your anger and sadness does not scare or overwhelm Him. He loves it when we are honest, transparent and real with Him.
Ask for His help and receive it!
Invite Him into your pain or situation - He is Emmanual, God with us. Allow Him to comfort you, know and understand your heart - fully and deeply. He will come as the Comforter and while you may still (most probably!) feel the pain, He will be with you in it - you won't be alone. He imparts unexplainable grace and peace. He is forging resiliency in your core.
In this place of encountering Emmanual - yield to Him what you don't understand, what is most fearful and painful - don't pretend it's not there. See it. Feel it. Surrender it. Come as a child. Let Him reveal to you His perspective. He has the most beautiful way of seeing things! Let Him impart His Peace. His Rest. His Grace. He is our sufficiency - El Shaddi - All sufficient One... the many breasted God. Just like a nursing mother pours herself out to satisfy her hungry baby - El Shaddi satisfies our needy hearts.
And grab hold!
2017 is going to be a beautiful year... you just wait and see!