Two weekends ago I went to World Mandate in Waco, TX with a group of people from my church. Justin and I decided to take Grace with us too. As we drove 45 mph through a blizzard in Oklahoma I thought to myself, "This better be worth it!" Believe me, it was. In fact, it was life-changing. I know that you don't need to go away to experience God but there is something to be said about going and taking action to really seek Him. World Mandate is put on by Antioch Community Church and these people really get it. They don't just talk about reaching and loving people in the name of Jesus, they go and do it and they go in power. I heard many encouraging words of truth while I was there. One was to run into the pain instead of avoiding it and there we will find God. We do everything we can to avoid pain and as Jim Yost stated, "We are creating a generation of useless people." That really hit me because I have four small children and I have always feared the pain they may go through someday. We make life so easy for our kids by giving them everything and this hit me because I don't want my kids not to know how to go through tough times. Why would they be aware of their need for God then, and how would they learn what real compassion for others is if they avoid all the pain in the world? Anyone who's read the Bible knows that those God chose to write about in His word not only were thought to be a little crazy but they went through some pretty difficult things too - some ending in death (including Jesus). God is there in the pain and I need to be willing to run there with Him. I can spend time with a hurting person instead of avoiding them and saying it's none of my business. Everyone wants to be loved and noticed. I also realized that my fear is not from God - He does not give a spirit of fear! This is something I battle daily because I love my kids so much and want them to be happy. We were never called to only be happy but to take up our cross and follow Him. And in that I believe there is true freedom and joy.
That leads me to something else I experienced first-hand in the last couple of weeks. People are amazing. 36 hours in a vehicle with someone is truly a gift. Justin and I also got the privilege of going on a retreat with our lifegroup this past weekend and the thing that just keeps pressing on my heart is how everyone has a story and everyone is special and worth being known by someone else. Getting to hear the life stories of these beautiful people was such a blessing - I feel like my family has just grown immensely because they are family now instead of simply acquaintences. Many of the stories included just one or two people who took the time to notice, to invest a little of themselves in someone else and it made all the difference. One couple in particular took interest in Justin and I when we were newly married and I could not even express all the ways they have made a difference in our lives. I think of them often and how selflessly they poured into us and what an awesome example they were to us in so many ways. (Thanks Nate and Joan).
God has really been teaching me a lot about his Holy Spirit lately. I've always known that the Holy Spirit is part of the Trinity, but that's about it. Justin and I have had many conversations in the past 2 years about who the Holy Spirit is. Questions about healing, speaking in tongues, even raising hands in worship came up. God has revealed so much to me about how much He truly wants us to walk in Spirit and in Truth and we just don't do it because we're scared of it or we think that's not for me, or that's for crazy people. I talked to a friend at church tonight who said she finally read the book of Acts and it changed her. I'm not sure why I choose to overlook certain parts of the Bible but now I know without doubt that God wants His Spirit to be upon us, to fill us. This is not just a nice Bible verse, it is POWERFUL! Check out Isaiah 61:1-3, Luke 4:18-19, and Acts 1:8. I believe Jesus still does signs and wonders to point people to Him. We heard a lot of incredible miracle stories at World Mandate and Justin and I were so blessed to hear Grace come home and share some of these stories with her brother and sister. She was listening after all =)
I asked God if I could experience Him, even feel Him because I've always felt somewhat on the outside of really engaging in worship because I really want it to be real and never just a show or a bunch of empty emotion. I confess that I have been judgemental. But at World Mandate I kept hearing "even me, even me." The Holy Spirit is for even me, and it is for you too, not just "those crazy people". 1 Corinthians 1:27-29 - I want to be willing to look foolish for God. God answered my prayer and my heart almost jumped out of my chest. I couldn't run to Him fast enough. I told the group we were with that I had felt a heaviness that had been there lift from my arms and I kept waving them around during worship because it felt so amazing. So yes, I did look foolish and I LOVED it! I believe God was honored as I delighted in Him. I truly love to worship Him and am asking Him to help me love Him more each day. Loving God is His first command. I have been challenged to ask myself if I truly do love Him and I can honestly answer yes.
I realize that this experience has been gift and I asked God what all this looks like in my everyday life, at home with my sweet kids. One thing he revealed is that for me, it is a daily surrender of pride - a literal laying it down so He can use me and fill me. It is allowing myself to just enjoy Him in my daily tasks and to bring my kids right with me. I don't want my relationship with Jesus to only be a few quiet moments by myself reading the Word. This is truly important but it is so much more. It cannot be separated from my whole life. Walking in Spirit and in Truth means just that - walking.
I did not post this to be preachy. If you know me, I hope you know that I just want to pour out what God has been showing me because I love people and want to see others experience God the way I have had the honor to. I want to look back on this when I have a season of drought in my life and remember that He is the real deal and there is no life without Him in every part of it. The theme of World Mandate was "Your Kingdom Come", as found in The Lord's Prayer. I remember the first time I really thought about that - His kingdom here on earth as it is in heaven. I wonder if you've thought about it too.