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Thursday, August 30, 2012

Transparent Voice

Behold my servant, whom I uphold, my chosen, in whom my soul delights; I have put my Spirit upon him; he will bring forth justice to the nations. He will not cry aloud or lift up his voice, or make it heard in the street; a bruised reed he will not break, and a faintly burning wick he will not quench; he will faithfully bring forth justice. He will not grow faint or be discouraged till he has established justice in the earth; and the coastlands wait for his law. Thus says God, the Lord, who created the heavens and stretched them out, who spread out the earth and what comes from it, who gives breath to the people on it and spirit to those who walk in it: “I am the Lord; I have called you in righteousness; I will take you by the hand and keep you; I will give you as a covenant for the people, a light for the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness. I am the Lord; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols. Behold, the former things have come to pass, and new things I now declare; before they spring forth I tell you of them.” Sing to the Lord a new song, his praise from the end of the earth, you who go down to the sea, and all that fills it, the coastlands and their inhabitants.
Isaiah 42:1-10 (ESV)
Have you ever been so excited to go somewhere new that you got cold feet? Like, you started inventing new things to worry about and even starting praying for God to close the door to that opportunity? I know you can’t see but I am raising my hand right now! That happened to me twice this summer! The first time was when I went to enroll and take my entrance test for college. Now mind you, I am no “fresh out the egg” chicken and I have been to college before… several different times. Each time it was for something different and I just KNEW this was what I wanted to do ranging from psychology to youth ministry to early childhood development. But each time, I was missing something, God’s order.
          This last time, I asked God what it was He wanted me to do instead of praying for what I wanted to do. He answered just as quickly as if to say to me, “Well I’m glad you asked Felicia!” The answer was to get my teaching certificate. Something I had been hearing for years and took no time in running from that statement. This time, I not only stayed but made it a point to quickly enroll. The result? I am for the first time on the honor roll!
          The next time this summer was for a leadership summit in Chicago with my church. Now let me am really… transparent. I really only wanted to go because I had never been to Chicago! When the invitation was given me, I did not hesitate to say yes, no praying and getting back to them, no seeking God, nothing but yes! Then the time got closer… and closer… and closer. I started to have new inventions of things to worry about. What if someone broke into my house while my adult kids were home? What if my oldest daughter, who is working, missed the bus and my mom was at work and could not take her? What if my son, who was on summer break, just sat in the house all day on his computer or watching TV? What if my youngest, who is a sophomore in high school, needed me or needed to get to practices during the day? Did I really think they couldn’t get along without me? So I started to panic and ask God to close the very door I had recently asked Him to give me revelation as to whether I was to go. I no longer wanted to go somewhere that was 8 hours away from my kids who I raised to the best of my ability and handed over to God was I surrendered my life.
          A crazy thing happened a couple of days after praying with a friend and leader of the church who I shared this with. God opened another entrance to this very same door! My youngest two were able to go with me. I asked my oldest because I set it in my heart that if she couldn’t go or wasn’t invited, I wasn’t going either! But she declined and that left me standing at the door with no more excuses but to walk in. I will now be referring to her as the Infidel!!
          That week was awesome! First because I didn’t have to pay a red cent on this trip unless I wanted something to take back, and second because I had never been in Chicago (I don’t count the inside airport) and I was in awe with the nostalgic scent in the air, and lastly but most definitely not least the conference. The confirmation, the encouragement, the wisdom, and the ideas I received from that place! I was speechless! I think I took so many notes that I could write an informational booklet from them alone! Shout out time: Thank you Bridge Church, Willow Creek Church (Bill Hybel) and city of Chicago for such a great end of summer vacation this year and thank You Lord for being consistent and persistent in me going and learning from You!
          Okay, now for the parable lesson. There was one speaker that was very short in stature, I’m guessing no more than 5’0 tall and her voice was like that of a frail mouse. But she captured that room plus the other nations that watched by satellite with the power God had given her in her voice. It reminded me of the small still voice that we are to listen for when the chaos of this world seems to be distracting and luring us away with its loudness. We couldn’t help but listen. And then she read the very verse God has given me as my ministry… Isaiah 42:1-9. I was blown away! I wanted to get up and run away screaming but the Holy Spirit speaking through her dared me to stay and listen.
What she simply said was no matter how small the world and even the church sometimes thinks you are, you matter to God and His purpose. You are counted in as a warrior for His Kingdom and there is no more time to sit on the sidelines because someone else has told you that you don’t matter or you don’t have a speaking voice, or you aren’t the right model for a leader or have simply not noticed what you do because you are not in the limelight. Pranitha’s ministry is in the darkness rescuing modern day slaves who have given up on anyone ever saving them. Yet she goes where she can get shot at, kidnapped, arrested for being on private property and I would even guess that as I write this 3 weeks later that she is in the thick of going after men, women and children who are enslaved putting herself in the forefront of danger for the sake of the Kingdom. I had to ask myself, what have you done? I have to ask you, the reader, what have you done?
          Has someone lied and told you or tried to make you believe you and what your vision is didn’t matter and wouldn’t make it? People have told me for years I matter but only to the degree in which they wanted to use me. For 3 years I have been surrendered to Christ but living as a free slave of the world because I counted what leaders told me as true about me. That I needed a specific speaking style, that I needed some more training, that God wasn’t ready to release me yet and that what I had to offer wasn’t what they needed in their church. Pranitha opened, not unlocked, that door of bondage and I am walking out!
This week and into next I will be meditating on Psalm 139:23-24 and asking God do something difficult, asking Him to search my heart. He is already opening doors; I have just been too afraid and riddled with guilt and lies to walk in. I refuse to have the “rocks cry out on my behalf.” How about you?
Father God, I ask forgiveness for the bondage Your Son’s blood freed me from yet I went back to the comfort ability of it. Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends You, and lead me to the life everlasting. Help me to step up and keep walking to step out! In Jesus name. Amen!