More Than a Conqueror

More Than a Conqueror
I am my Beloved's, and my Beloved is mine

Monday, October 17, 2011

When it all gets stripped away…what is left?

Recently, I met with one of my leaders and she challenged to take a new step toward maturity in Messiah.  The Lord has been showing me areas that I have kept and guarded for so long, safeguarding them in my own strength.  I am afraid of being hurt by others.  So, when I feel insecure or perceive a lack of love on their part, I hide.  I don’t open my heart to them, and I don’t allow them to see the real me.  Fear keeps me hidden behind walls that I constructed for myself.  In many ways, I am a very gregarious person.  I long for connection with others, for intimacy, and for deeper levels of friendship that go beyond the shallow levels we allow ourselves to wade in.  So when I hit this wall in my interactions with others, there is always a sense of sadness and loss in my spirit.
I went to my leader to share about my frustration, to unseal what I have been hiding but the Lord has been highlighting.  After listening to my desires and frustrations, she gave me some very practical advice.  Be purposeful in my pursuit for relationships.  My inclination is to hide, to pout, to keep away from others when I am not sure of my standing with them.  But she advised that I take a step toward deeper relationships.  Take time to interact, ask questions, open up and listen to others.  Go for walks, share tea, sit at the table and just be with them. 
So, after talking to her, I did it.  It felt very unnatural and uncomfortable, and my walls inside were crying out, “HIDE!  Don’t let us down!”
But I feel God’s pull.  The closer we get to God, the more He gives us revelation on what His words really mean.  Of course, we can go our entire life and still be surprised by God.  I am so desperately in love with the Lord.  So thirsty for His presence every day.  But God didn’t create us to be alone.  He didn’t just say love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul and mind.  But to also love your neighbor as yourself.  He knew we needed each other.  It’s not enough to love God, if I keep hidden from those He loves. 
I feel like a birch tree, as it’s flakey bark is peeled off and all that is left is the pale and vulnerable trunk underneath.  God is doing what He does best, purifying.  I keep asking for more of God, but He can’t give me more of Himself.  When God entered my heart, He gave me the fullness of Himself.  All I can do now, is empty more of myself so that more of Him can dwell in me.  Filling up those places I surrender to Him.
But through the frustration, hope and dependency on God that this trial has produced, it has been impossible to lose sight of the goodness of God.  Every week we’ve had opportunities to explore, serve and minister in the city.  I have gotten to see lives touched by the love of God.  And I have started to learn how to really press in and intercede for a nation and for a city. 
Thank you Father for the hope of more of you.  Thank you Lord for your grace.  Thank you that in my weakness, in my humanness, you are strong.  You bind yourself to me, and in return all I can do is give you more of me. 

Sunday, October 2, 2011

Geneva… A city of Reformation

This is now my third visit to Geneva, and the nearby town of Versoix, where the Gateways team has its base.  And each time I’ve come, my love of this richly vibrant and historic city grows.  In past visits, we’ve stayed in little trailers in a nearby town on the French side.  And that is where I was expecting to stay when we arrived.  But I soon learned that I and the three other girls coming back for internship, would be staying in the heart of Geneva.  It takes 5 minutes to walk to the Jet D’Eau, the huge water fountain in Lake Geneva.  And a 10 minute walk takes us to the center of the historic area, a place that has its roots in Medieval times.  Each time I step outside our door, I am overwhelmed by the goodness of God.  Growing up near historic Williamsburg, VA and Jamestown, I have an intense love of things old and historic.  I love stones and bricks that were carved hundreds or thousands of years ago.  I love imagining that I’m stepping back in time, trying to picture the type of people that filled the streets, or the noise and smells that lingered there.  So every Shabbat, the time our leaders give us to rest and recuperate from our busy weekly schedule, my roommates and I have enjoyed exploring this beautiful city.  I love the teal water; the hundreds of ethnicities; the expensive shops; the statues of art and historic figures; the tall buildings, older than some of the oldest buildings in the States; the world powers that are centered here; the many churches and the cathedral; the weeping statue of Jeremiah; the swans swimming in the lake.  I love Geneva.
But this time hasn’t been about falling in love with an amazing city…well not entirely at least.  The internship has been an amazing opportunity to serve, to live in community, to learn, and to worship and intercede.  We have had several opportunities to serve the local body of believers, like ministering to a couple of churches and inviting them to times of worship.  We have also gotten to serve the community, raising funds for a humanitarian aid group and soon to feed the homeless at a local shelter.  And living with the people here, seeing their lives wholeheartedly submitted to God’s will, learning from them, has been so impactful.  Every weekday morning, we join together to pray and intercede, and seeing their heart for this region has shown me what it truly means to intercede for a nation.  Before I came, this is one of things I asked the Lord to grow in me, an intercessory burden.  And lately during worship, the Lord has been increasing my heart for Israel and the Jewish people.  It’s funny that I would have to come to Geneva for my love of Israel to grow.
Today, my friends and I visited the Reformers’ Wall, a monument with statues in honor of great reformers of the faith, most predominately John Calvin.  When we think of Calvin, most people immediately jump to predestination.  But he was a man who loved God, and wanted to see the Bible used practically in daily life.  Studying his life, and how he impacted every facet of society in 16th century Geneva, compels me to believe that believers can have a greater impact than we give ourselves credit for. 
I feel like the main thing the Lord is teaching me during this time is submission.  Submission to authority that He has placed over me…but mostly submission to His will.  I’m starting to get a glimpse of what it really means to pray, “Not my will, but Your will be done.”  Sometimes it involves living in community and choosing not to get offended or hurt.  Sometimes it means taking a lower road, allowing others to be lifted up.  It often means taking all of my hopes and dreams and laying them at Yeshua’s feet, trusting that He knows what do with them.  And it always means listening everyday for His voice to speak, as Psalm 95 says, “Today if your hear His voice, do not harden your hearts…”  Yes Lord, not my will, but yours be done, on earth as it is in heaven.