In my last post I talked about how the spirituality of followers of Jesus should be and suggested that issues of identity are incredibly important. I felt more should be said on this issue since I think a lot of people struggle with this and I wanted to make some of my conceptual statements more concrete by sharing some of things I have done and some of the tangible signs of change I have seen and received.
I grew up with a really distorted understanding of myself and God that made a healthy spirituality of following Jesus. However, since last Spring, when God brought incredible supernatural healing into my life through prayer, things have been fundamentally different. I have been experiencing revelation and breakthrough about what has been wrong about my understanding of myself, my understanding of God, and my understanding of how God sees me.
One practical thing I have learned to do is to test my fears against the character of God, who is the best Dad in the whole world. For example, one time I was faced with making a major decision between two good things. I realized I was very anxious about it and desired a clear sign or command from God to point to which decision was His will. The Holy Spirit revealed to me that this was a retreat back into a slave/Master identity and fear. I feared that if I did not make the right decision God would later punish me for choosing the wrong path. As I was walking one day I asked myself simply, “If one of these paths was God’s will for my life, and the other was not, do I believe God, who is the best Dad in the whole world, would not tell me His will in this situation, let me make the wrong decision, and then come back years later and harshly punish me for it?” While exceptions do exist, I was aware that even most human sinful fathers would not do this. Clearly God, who loves us more than anyone else and the best Dad in the whole world, would not do such a thing. I did not even have to stop walking for that one and I eventually made that decision with no fear or anxiety.
Another practical thing I was taught to do is to ask God every day to tell me what He thinks of me. Ephesians 5:29 says that “No one has hated his own flesh but nourishes and cherishes it as He does the Church.” This has been probably the most beneficial thing I have learned at Pihop and the School of Supernatural Ministry. I was invited to do this and told that sometimes God will flip worship songs back on us and sometimes the revelation of God’s love for us will come later in the day and not instantaneously when we pray. These are some of the things I have heard from God:
- You are my trophy. You are 1st place. You are the sign of my victory. You are the palladium; where you go victory for others will follow. You are the herald of victory and freedom. [This was accompanied by an image of actual trophy’s I earned as a young child during father/son team competitions with my dad.]
- You are hope to the hopeless. When you find people in pain your impact will be so great some will count their life before and after meeting you. [Recently my heart for working with Native Americans was reignited and I talked with a Native missionary last week about the work he was doing. When I asked him what the number one challenge he has faced in his work. His answer was without hesitation: “Hopelessness.”]
- You are a person of incredible influence. Who brings people together in unity and community. You have always been a leader and cast vision even when you did not feel like you were one.
- You will equip the saints. The vast armory you have inherited is more than you will ever need. You have in your possession armor that only fits other people. Freely give what you have received. You will never run out! [I’ll write more about this armory in a later Signs that Make you Wonder Post.]
- [You are] my beloved, my delight, the apple of my eye. I delight in you, not in your performance.
- You bring in the outcast. You “in-gather” them.
Over the last several months my relationship with God has been shifting incredibly. As I began reading the book, Experiencing the Father’s Embrace by Jack Frost, he shares a story that I am all too familiar with. As I read his first chapter I strongly identified with his journey from addiction to sinful things to addiction to ministry and how a broken relationship with a distant father that kept him from connecting with the love of the best Dad in the whole world in a healthy way. As I continued reading I was struck by the fact that nothing he was saying was really new to me. I identified with his whole story, not just his tortured past relationship with God but his understanding of the heart of the Father. I realized that, while God is infinite and therefore there will always be something more for me to learn about His love for me and for others, my understanding of God had really changed and my relationship with God had categorically changed in the last several months.
This was confirmed in a powerful way by God last Saturday when I served at the Well. Over one hundred and eighty people signed up to receive prophetic prayer at Pihop last Saturday. When I arrived to start praying before-hand the line was to the end of the block. With eight teams of three to four people going at once a normal night usually takes us to 11:00pm or 11:30pm to pray for everyone. However, that night we had a team of forty-five people visiting from Bethel. They are all second year students in the Bethel School of Ministry so they ministered with us and we ended up having twelve teams of four to five people. Even with this additional help we still finished around 11:15pm due to the sheer demand for prayer. In the main hall the worship room was packed with people praying, worshiping and waiting for their time of prayer.
Not only was the time praying for people very fun and it is always great to see God’s love touch people I myself was touched. One of the Bethel students started praying over us on the team and as she looked at me she said that I radiated the love of the Father. I thanked her and received this encouragement but did not really think about it. However, at the end of the night she pulled me aside and was adamant that I pray for her. She was so convinced that I, above and beyond other people she had met, really understood the Father’s love and wanted to be blessed by it herself. I prayed for her and blessed her with whatever I had and she started to break down. This moment was as if God was confirming my own realization that I have come to a very different understanding of His love and am going to be used to share that with others.
Six months ago I still secretly feared that God hated me. Truly God has touched my life and done a work in me that is undeniable.
God is so good. 🙂