joy

God’s glory saturated yesterday.

And it was spectacular.
  

Friends, it was lovely and packed with memories I will not soon forget. And in a time where memories are made every day the fact that my smile is still plastered across my face, and probably making everyone think I am making fun of them in the deep recesses of my mind, says a lot. I am still overflowing with joy from everywhere God’s glory exploded bright yesterday. I kind of feel like when Moses’ face kept reflecting the glory of God after being in his presence and no one could look at him when he carried the Ten Commandments down from Mt. Sinai. They were afraid to approach him because his face shone from talking to God. But it isn’t creepy. It isn’t scary. It is holy.

Oh, friends, that this joy would continually be reflected out of Haitian lives.

Yesterday marked the first graduating class of the Pathways program through Global Orphan Project in Haiti. Two years of hard work for students who have not passed school grades anywhere from 4th to 10th grade in Haiti and had to leave a Pastor’s care at age 18. Two years of living as a community. Two years of budgeting, language and life learning. Two years of true friendship and maturing. Two years of discipleship and growth as local church leaders. Two years of learning trade skills to earn a job within a country that has an unemployment rate of 70%. Two well fought years to reach yesterday.

I’ve seen grief in these students. I’ve seen their confidence grow. I’ve seen passionate prayer and worship. I’ve seen struggles. I’ve seen them walk with kindness and respect for others as they learn to navigate life beyond a Pastor’s care. I’ve seen them empowered and proud of themselves as they gain job skills and feel they have something to impart on younger students. I’ve seen them investing in other young lives still living in a Pastor’s care.

And yesterday, I saw them exploding with joy in their accomplishment. They were so, so happy. I kept telling them, ‘I am so happy for you!’ And one by one their eyes would shine bright and smiles would sparkle as they replied with, ‘Me too!’

As I reflect on yesterday while I journey to Kansas City for my brother’s celebrations leading him into a new married life…I am breathing deep breathes of gratitude.

Today I am praising true life, because it is a gift to live and count so, so many people as dear friends across so many different cultures and languages.

Today I am grateful for patience in Haitian culture, because through the craziness of traffic and no disgust in long lines, Haiti has taught me to slow down and treasure what is in front of me…to take the moments we are given for what they are meant to be.

I am inspired while living within a culture that lives the example of respectfully greeting colleagues and friends when you first see them in the day with a hand shake and kiss to the cheek. It is intentional. It is meaningful. It shows they are present with you and we are known by one another.

Today I am thankful for the examples of overflowing love of Jesus in the Haitian lives surrounding me, because it has taught me to not be ashamed of who I follow and easily sigh with ‘Seigneur Jésus.’ It has taught me that worship is passionate, with your whole existence crying out for the Savior.

Today I smile with overflowing love for a culture of extremes and being chosen to grow within this place. It is not easy living within the extremes of Haiti. This place is no where near perfect, but there is loads of beauty…even in dirt and trash. There are many things that ignite my sense of justice and many things that force me to rely on faith when I do not understand. But they hone my vision to God’s Kingdom restored and renewed, and fuel my fight for that Kingdom to be known.

Today I am refreshed by young lives filled with pride and confidence through empowerment.

As I sit and soak in the last year and a half, and look forward to the next year in Haiti, I see it as the incredible gift it is in my life. I am grateful for my calling, and this time of being placed perfectly within who God created me to be for his Kingdom. God’s glory is evident and present everywhere, but somehow Haiti purifies it and allows us to look through a clear lens. I will forever crave the presence of the Holy Spirit in this place and Haiti will forever make my heart explode.
  

refuge

There is this song I remember singing in choir. It had a great harmony and I loved the liturgical chanting beat. It was based off of Psalm 46…and before we go any further, allow me to answer that burning question in your mind. Yes, I was a choir nerd. I know, I know. It takes away any chance at ‘coolness’ I had, but it’s the truth, I was a choir nerd. I still hate that I didn’t get to be in chamber choir with my friends…but not everyone has a voice good enough to be THAT nerdy.

The lyrics of the song were confusing to me, because at that point in my life I wasn’t quite sure how this ‘God’ I couldn’t see, didn’t hear and certainly wasn’t ready to trust could possibly be a refuge and strength in trouble.

“God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Therefore we will not fear, though the earth gives way and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea, though its waters roar and foam and the mountains quake with their surging.” [Psalm 46:1]

Honestly, at that point in my life, I definitely didn’t understand why I would need a refuge or strength in my life. Nothing hard had really touched me at that point, and I was in those blissful teen and college years of believing I was invincible. I was also stubborn and thought I really could tame the world by taking it head on. I was definitely not going to ask anyone for help, even if I did come across something tough, and I certainly did not need help from an abstract idea of God because I had enough strength in me to do it all.

Go ahead, chuckle. I know…I had a lot to learn, and still do. We are all in different stages in this walk with Jesus the Redeemer.

But in order to know the need for a refuge, to understand why scripture talks about refuge, we really have to know that desperate, gasping for oxygen need for escape, protection and sanctuary in our own lives. And that doesn’t come without extreme pain and your world being turned inside-out while spinning end over end.

We can fake it all we want and we can deny it all we want, but there really is something innate in us that longs to be protected and to find that place of refuge when we need it. Truly, the Holy Spirit makes that real and there are a million ways to feel that presence, but it all coincides with our willingness to surrender and merge our heart with God’s heart.

Tonight, as I write this, I think of the disciples in those days between their teacher’s death on the cross and his resurrection. They didn’t know the resurrection was coming. Their world really was turned upside down. The man they thought would finally bring freedom to Israel was dead. What a crazy emotional roller coaster they were riding! They were scared, mourning and they retreated to a place of sanctuary believing if their teacher could be put to death on the cross…they would be next, so they made sure to lock the door.

But after Jesus rose, and breathed the Holy Spirit on them, there was this contagious confidence in their belief and propulsion into the world. God’s Spirit in them made them unstoppable. They took the message out further than anyone probably thought they could. They told stories. They healed people. They spoke truth. They built communities of believers. All done with the power of the Holy Spirit, and the power of God’s story from the beginning of time that perfectly predicted every move Jesus made.

Most of the time we think of a refuge as being a physical place, but the safety and security of place is not always available.

What would happen if we started seeking refuge in the Holy Spirit?

The Spirit doesn’t always have to be a place of strength, more often the Spirit functions on weakness and surrender. We cannot technically curl up in the physical safety of the Holy Spirit, but the Spirit protects something more beautiful than our physical well-being. The Spirit claims and protects our souls, and the refuge we find there is invincible.

truth

Note: I’ve felt led to share an open letter to my community of Jesus’ loving, sarcastic speakin’, community driven and radically living ladies who laugh with me and love me despite my inherent ability to sometimes be an asshole. Friends, three years ago this month I followed a crazy whim that the Holy Spirit had put on my heart to experiment with a small group Bible Study using the Tangible Kingdom Primer. Since that moment, we have had so, so many crazy adventures together, intense prayer and read some books we know we don’t want to touch with a ten foot pole again, as well as some we keep recommending to others. But best of all we have waded through the muck and fell headlong into God’s heart for his Kingdom to be realized through loving others and genuinely caring about those around us every day. The unique thing about our DNA is that our focus has consistently been grounded on the perfect cornerstone of Jesus Christ. He is our launching pad into incarnational living that is creating each one of us into storytellers who perpetuate the stories of The Storyteller. We have seen friends sit among us and then move on by their own choice. We have seen family members pass away. We know each other, and not just know in the general sense, but known in the way God has created us to be open and honest with each other within community. We have countless crazy Kingdom stories. We have become excellent listeners. We have struggled through so many aspects of life together, responding each time by encircling our friend while carrying, motivating and loving them through the shit this world throws around. We have celebrated victories in life, jobs, friendship, marriages…because if a group who calls themselves Fondue Crew doesn’t know how to celebrate, who does? I know we all realize this…but I think it is important to remember where our roots are, and how we have been grown together with Jesus at the core in order to see where God is leading us. So many times as groups grow, they get to a point where they think they have learned all they will be able to learn from each other and feel they need to move on. Other times individuals believe that they don’t really belong any more. Sometimes the group gets too big and someone gets a brilliant *sarcasm* idea to multiply and grow new groups, only causing division because it was an idea of man not Spirit. Other times the ‘B’ word slides in and convinces us we are too busy for that weekly check-in and storytelling. When our group had just formed, I bought a book, ‘Community is Messy,’ but I never read it. Mostly, because I knew our foundation was built of the power of the one who reigns over the entire universe and if it got messy, we would draw on that power to figure it out. I’d never felt as intense discernment as when I felt the pull to start this group stubbornly centered on Kingdom life and living incarnational lives, telling Kingdom stories with a commitment to only do studies or activities pulling us deeper into that sent life. God was doing a lot in my life and redefining what I thought mission was into what God meant it to be, and he was calling me to share that ‘doing’ mission was not his heart and that Kingdom vision was right at the center. The one tie that truly binds us is our deep, passionate, loyal love for the One whose grace saves…the Master Storyteller. The stories we tell point to his Kingdom and without those stories to glorify God we are not living the lives God has called us to in this world. I am in a dual state of extreme gratitude for how we encourage each other, but also a feeling of disconnect, which goes against why God formed our community. We are strongest together when we are weaving our lives into His Story. What I do know is the world we fight for puts us in direct conflict with the forces that fight against that world being realized. It makes us susceptible to so many things. We cannot ever let ourselves believe the lie that we are separated from the community God has brought us into. We must believe the truth of God’s heart, the truth of his Holy Spirit leading and the truth that there is a purpose for our community. When we start listening to the lies that we don’t have time, it’s been too long and it will feel weird to be back or you feel uncomfortable with someone in the group…we allow ourselves to believe the lie that we are better on our own and we don’t belong in community.

“For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms.” [Ephesians 6:12, NIV]

For months I’ve been allowing myself to believe the lie that my voice doesn’t have the right to speak alongside your voices. Allowing myself to hear I’ve been gone for too long. Without time spent with you, without knowing what is happening in your daily lives…I’ve allowed myself to believe that I am too far away, I am not needed and I am separate. Within those thoughts, I’ve been holding on to some things I felt God wanted us to hear. But it is time to share God’s truth… Friends, we have failed to fortify ourselves against spiritual attack and we are getting picked apart. We are digressing into our own minds and not being honest about where we are at right now. Myself included. We are loved by the giver of life, so intimately, that we are chosen. We must embrace this truth as a community, but also individually. You are chosen.

“As you come to him, the living Stone – rejected by men but chosen by God and precious to him – you also, like living stones are being built into a spiritual house to be a holy priesthood, offering spiritual sacrifices acceptable to God through Jesus Christ…They stumble because they disobey the message – which is also what they were destined for. But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness and into his wonderful light.” [1 Peter 2:4-9]

We need to trust each other explicitly and know that while we first trust Jesus, we without a doubt we have each others’ back. That means honesty and not hiding away when things get tough. We need to actively communicate our struggles with each other and know we are supported. We need to hold each other accountable to telling Kingdom stories and living Kingdom lives through blessing others, listening well, being present, committing to prayer and seeking growth in God’s word. We need to realize how uniquely we each are made, embrace those differences and celebrate how specific our gifts are as we use them to fit together into God’s perfect puzzle. We need every single one of us.

“It was he who gave some to be apostles, some to be prophets, some to be evangelists, and some to be pastors and teachers, to prepare God’s people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of men in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will in all things grow up into him who is the Head, that is, Christ. From him the whole body, joined and held together by every supporting ligament, grows and builds itself up in love, as each part does its work.” [Ephesians 4:11-16]

We are uniquely called to love deeply all those around us, yes, we will be assholes, but our intentions remain pure. It means conversations with people at work, school and on long drives that we wouldn’t normally jump into. It means spending money a different way. It means being outside our comfort zone. It also draws on a willingness to surrender ourselves to allow God to use us. It means transformation. It means we will sometimes get hurt, but it also allows us to love and encourage each other through that pain. We need to commit to reconciling our relationships with each other through love, and live gracefully. We need to shelf excuses that keep us secluded from community. We need to stop the busy, acknowledge boundaries and know that God seeks to use us everywhere we go…while discerning God doesn’t mean for this community to be sacrificed on the altar of busy. Everything we have been through, read and learned has led us to this specific time and place to be what God needs from us…BUT we are asked to listen and filter out the busy to hear. We have served side-by-side in various aspects: Harvesters, Russia, Haiti and Spofford. We keep seeking the voice of God on where that ‘one thing’ is in this world for us to dive in together, but we are truly a beautiful image of God because our eclecticness is unique. How many times have you looked around our group and thought, ‘How did we all end up here?’ What God has brought together has meaning, and it is special. We are all different and each called in a different way, and I am convinced God will make us strongest when we use our differences. I am convinced that it isn’t that we have one thing for us all to be about, but God has made each of us about different things within a common passion. We each have an innate passion to champion those in this world that are forgotten. It looks different with each of us, but each of us is doing this within our own calling. I could look at each of you right now and call out that area where you are living to champion those the world forgets. We are called to community, and that community is called out as individuals…to then come back to community to heal, share and love deeply in a safe place. This world is hard. God knows it is drowning in sin, but he also knows there is an end with his victory and he has given believers a place to retreat back to and feel safe until he has healed this world.

“Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ himself as the chief cornerstone. In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord and in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit.” [Ephesians 2:14-22]

The truth is, friends, I need you in my life. I need you to keep reminding me that God has built us together to be a dwelling for the Holy Spirit. I need you to point to the Kingdom when I miss it. I need your stories. I need our community, because I know I cannot do this life alone…and honestly, I really don’t want to, even if you are two plane rides away. Community is messy, but we are called to life lived together. I am beyond blessed to have you all in my life cheering me on and championing who God has called me to be.

“Humble yourselves, therefore, under God’s mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you. Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same king of sufferings. And the God of all grace, who called you to his eternal glory in Christ, after you have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong, firm and steadfast. To him be the power forever and ever. Amen.” [1 Peter 5:6-11]

wise

We’ve concocted a beautiful little children’s story out of Jesus’ birth.

You have a barn, a mom and dad, and then there are some sheep, donkey, probably some goats and in my mind there has to be a rooster there somewhere. Of course, don’t forget the angel, they are very beautiful in the Christmas pageant every year. There are some raggedy shepherds too, naturally they smell awful.

The fact that Jesus’ birth can be brought into the lives of children in a visual way that makes them excited every year is wonderful. But as we grow older, I think we have a tendency to get too comfortable with that version of Jesus’ birth.

Some of the events surrounding his appearance in our world were life and death. Herod killed every single boy that was two years and younger in all of Bethlehem and its vicinity. It was a massacre. How the parents must have felt as the soldier forced their way through the town, killing as they went house to house.

It’s intriguing how God chose shepherds for the angel to appear in front of on that hillside. They were the lowest of low, the dirtiest of the dirty. People avoided them because they smelled of sheep. And they were terrified when an angel appeared to them, who wouldn’t be, honestly? Yet, they have the highest honor of an angel appearing with news of the Messiah.

Finally, my favorite part of the nativity scene as an adult…the wise men.

Somehow over the last several years, God has morphed that imagine of kings on camels majestically coming into the presence of the baby Jesus into this beautiful image of men so full of hope for God to restore the world and so full of faith to travel thousands of miles to see the Messiah in person. Men who were most likely proclaimed as crazy by those who knew why they were following a star to an unknown destination. They chose extreme risks in their adventure over continued study of the scriptures. They chose to hope with reckless abandon.

If these wise men were high and mighty where they came from, at the feet of baby Jesus they find themselves in complete humility and in awe of the honor of physically being present with the Messiah.

I see them as dusty and road weary. Exhausted, but supernaturally energized at the prospect of seeing the Messiah they had only read about in the scrolls of the prophets. They had traveled a long way to reach that point in the journey. How many different animals had they ridden? How many miles had they walked? How many new experiences had they had? How many challenges did the face? Or attempted robberies on the road?

The wise men put a lot of faith in hope in following their maps and the stars for thousands of miles. I could never imagine every challenge they faced on this crazy adventure as they crossed in and out of new cultures.

The star the wise men followed was hope that they carried with them for a new world, and a hope that carried them through a long journey.

That hope is just as real today as it was thousands of years ago. The wise men must have had so many questions and a million reasons to turn back, but they put their trust in how God spoke through the prophets. They remained focused on the one God who would send a man to redeem creation, and bring all back to the heart and grace of the one who sent him.

May you embrace the supernatural hope, extreme adventure and tunnel vision to Jesus today as you embrace inspiration from three wise (albeit crazy) men.

knowledge

“That night, God appeared to Solomon. God said, ‘What do you want from me? Ask.’” [2 Chronicles 1:8, MSG]

Wow. Anything? What would you ask for if God gave you freedom to request something from him?

World peace? A million dollars? A friend to finally seek God’s grace and love? Discernment? To be the most famous person ever?

There are a lot of Haitians looking for the letter ‘T’ on Prestige beer bottles right in a contest to get a free car. Would you ask for a car?

“Solomon answered, ‘You were extravagantly generous with David my father, and now you have made me king in his place. Establish, God, the words you spoke to my father, for you’ve given me a staggering task, ruling this mob of people. Yes, give me wisdom and knowledge as I come and go among this people – for who on his own is capable of leading these, your glorious people?’ God answered Solomon, ‘This is what has come out of your heart: You didn’t grasp for money, wealth, fame, and the doom of your enemies; you didn’t even ask for a long life. You asked for wisdom and knowledge so you could govern well my people over whom I’ve made you king. Because of this, you get what you asked for – wisdom and knowledge. And I’m presenting you the rest as a bonus – money, wealth and fame beyond anything the kings before you or after you had or will have.’” [2 Chronicles 1:11-12, MSG]

Solomon could have asked for anything. But God recognized Solomon’s heart when he didn’t ask for something frivolous. He wanted to honor God.

There is something here we can learn from when Solomon asks for wisdom and knowledge. How many times today have you, sometimes subconsciously, asked God for something?

Perhaps, help me not strangle this co-worker, or maybe your kids? How about for a car to get out of your way because you are in a hurry? What about asking for more time in your day with a loved one who doesn’t have much longer to be in this world, or even that you find yourself too ‘busy’ to be with those you love? Maybe it is patience you ask for? Careful on that one, God tends to give you situations to grow your patience instead of actually just bestowing it on you.

I ask a lot for God’s voice to be clear and discernment to be what God needs me to be for those around me. I’ve also asked for wisdom, because who has enough really? We can always use more wisdom, but never once have I asked for knowledge. I’d never really thought about it until I read Solomon’s request a few months ago. Possibly, it is because I have a significant amount of faith in the Lord I serve, coupled with a relative easiness at the mysterious parts of God.

Solomon wanted wisdom and knowledge to lead well. I wonder at those who lead around me, if they frequently ask for wisdom and knowledge. In the areas I lead, I know I haven’t…and I cannot possibly be the only one who hasn’t asked.

Solomon didn’t lead perfectly, but he started out with his heart in the right place. None of us could ever lead perfectly, we all sin after all, but what characteristics of leadership could we commit to improving ourselves? Maybe it is wisdom and knowledge, but maybe it is in hearing the voice of God and discerning where the Holy Spirit would have you lead people.

Let today be a day you commit to having your heart in the right place…and if I end up failing today, in the uncanny tradition of David and Solomon…God will still love me tomorrow.

 

sabbath

Sabbath. We don’t use that word very often, and more times than not we probably clump it in Christianese verbiage that most outside of the church don’t understand. We are bad about that verbiage. We desperately need to communicate the Gospel in a common vernacular.

Sabbath: divinely set apart for rest and worship.

Technically observed as Sundays for Christians and Saturdays for Jewish folks, but that’s assuming God really cares what day of the week you take actual time to just be.

When I was in church ministry, Sundays are never a day for Sabbath…only work, so typically ministry staff that work on Sundays take a different day off. My Sabbath day was Thursday, and I had my own version of rest and worship. Since it wasn’t a ‘normal’ day to gather as a group of believers, there wasn’t any corporate worship in my day. There was worship in community, which is just as sacred. I didn’t have meetings that day. I didn’t set an alarm to wake up. Sometimes I’d go for a swim, and those were incredible times of prayer…lap after lap of chatting with my Jesus. Sometimes I would find a quiet Panera corner and dig into the Bible. God would show up in those moments at Panera, and I would learn things that I wouldn’t normally learn if I hadn’t actually taken the time to grow and be present. Honestly, I had to work hard at keeping that day set apart. Life likes to creep in and take over. If I didn’t work hard at keeping it sacred, and if I didn’t actually block it off on my calendar and commit to keeping it unplanned…it would have been full and I would have been more likely to just go through the motions instead of simply resting in him, however it materialized, in those days.

For some, Sabbath can become going through the motions of what it should look like as a socially labeled Christian with all of the social assumptions: do a quiet time, disciplined prayer, go to church – don’t forget to dress nice and modest as well as act as you are supposed to in church, church council meeting, sing in the choir and volunteer somewhere.

“Quit your worship charades. I cannot stand your trivial religious games; monthly conferences, weekly Sabbaths, special meetings – meetings, meetings, meetings – I can’t stand one more! Meetings for this, meetings for that. I hate them! You’ve worn me out! I’m sick of your religion, religion, religion, while you go right on sinning. When you put on your next prayer performance, I’ll be looking the other way. No matter how long or loud or often you pray, I’ll not be listening. And do you know why? Because you’ve been tearing people to pieces, and your hands are bloody. Go home and wash up. Clean up your act. Sweep your lives clean of your evil doings so I don’t have to look at them any longer. Say no to wrong. Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.” [Isaiah 1:13-17, MSG]

Strong words…blatant words, I think it is why I like The Message Bible version sometimes. It cuts straight through the bullshit. When believers find themselves going to church because they are ‘supposed to go to church,’ they start walking a very grey line between going through the motions and honoring God through worship. God was pissed at the Israelites, because they were going through the motions of religion and didn’t want to connect with him. They didn’t need him. They were giving sacrifices for their sin as a show, and didn’t care about forgiveness. They were ignoring the things God cared about, and it angered him that they were not willing to ‘Learn to do good. Work for justice. Help the down-and-out. Stand up for the homeless. Go to bat for the defenseless.’

If you are going to church on a Sunday morning only to be seen, and not seek to encounter the heart of God for you and this world…then what is the point? If you are taking communion because everyone else is going to the front and not coming clean with God…what is the point? If you are going to small group to check that off your Christian list for the week, not for community and make yourself Gospel literate…what is the point? If you are joining the mission trip simply because your friends are going and you want to take photos to show people on social media the good you do in the world, because you are a good Christian…what is the point? If you are going to the homeless shelter to serve food to appease your guilt of your abundance…what is the point?

It comes down to your motives. Who are you looking to please when you participate in the life of the church? Are your motives pure? Is it all in expectation? Or are you looking to impress someone with your holiness and righteousness, but spent an hour yelling at your family before you came to church or small group?

Sabbath is not a particular day. Sabbath is not for ‘religion.’

Sabbath is for your relationship with the one who reigns over the universe, and has love so intense for you he sent his son as the ultimate sacrifice. Sabbath is for you to take a breath. God commanded Sabbath because he didn’t create us to do EVERYTHING. He knows we need our connection to him. He knows we need rest.

God’s heart for you is to be whole in him, and that includes a day set apart to seek him and take a deep breath, because for the other days of the week God is very serious about, “Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.” [Isaiah 1:17, NIV]

speak

Courage and cowardice.

Strength and weakness.

When you think about it, the prophets of the Bible at one point lived each of those extremes.

Moses said no thanks in the beginning and eventually tells God, “’Lord, I have never been eloquent, neither in the past nor since you have spoken to your servant. I am slow of speech and tongue.’ The Lord said to him, ‘Who gave man his mouth? Who makes him deaf or mute? Who gives him sight or makes him blind? Is it not I, the Lord? Now go; I will help you speak and will teach you what to say.’ But Moses said, ‘Lord, please send someone else to do it.’” [Exodus 4:10-13]

Isaiah had a vivid vision and was brought to his knees in humility, hearing God speak, “Whom shall I send? And who will go for us?” [Isaiah 6:1-8]

Elijah got to a point he wanted to die after all the other prophets were killed, and hides in a cave, where he hears God speak, “What are you doing here, Elijah?” But the best part of the cave is that God tells him to go stand outside, then:

“And behold the Lord passes by, and a great strong wind tore the mountains and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was no in the wind. And after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake. And after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire. And after the fire the sound of a low whisper.” [1 Kings 19:11-12]

Samuel thought God’s voice was actually his mentor’s voice and when he finally got clued in he said the scary words a prophet can never take back, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” [1 Samuel 3:10]

Examples of the prophets hearing the voice of God could go on for paragraph after paragraph. It was their calling to be a mouthpiece for God and to speak his words. Even on that level of being known and hearing from God there is still a common factor…they were all still human and their actions show that in some revealing ways, but it didn’t stop God from using them.

Some would say I am a mission-junkie…others know it has matured into more Kingdom-junkie, and I would definitely say I have become a prophet-junkie and that has a lot to do with really loving how God used the prophets.

I am constantly mesmerized by their ability to speak words to people in their own culture that were so incredibly painful to hear. Words full of truth, yes, but painful words at that. They were calling people back to rightness with God, and back into God’s heart, but the people didn’t want to hear that their behavior was too far outside of what God had instructed them to do. They didn’t want to hear that worshipping idols would really have consequences. They didn’t want to hear that their social indulgences of sex, prostitution and debauchery were wrong.

The words God had the prophets speak fell on deaf ears, and the Old Testament is full of stories of God trying to bring his children home.

God is still speaking now, and friends, God is still trying to bring his children home.

Can we honestly say we are seeking to hear his voice? When God speaks those words…do we even recognize it?

Samuel didn’t recognize the voice of God because it hadn’t been heard in thousands of years. He had no idea what it sounded like. Thankfully, his mentor instructed him to listen and say to God, “Speak, for your servant is listening.” Wise words from an ailing priest with sons that continually made him look bad…(cliff note) Samuel’s first prophecy was to tell Eli that God was going to carry out everything against his family that he said he would, because Eli knew his sons’ sin and did nothing.

But the real question is…are we living in that time again where God’s voice hasn’t been heard in thousands of years? Or are there people who clearly hear the voice of God speak and we ignore them? Label them as crazy?

Elijah stood at that cave entrance dejected, dishonored and alone. But God showed up. Not in the wind, or the earthquake or the fire…but in a whisper. I have the fortunate timing of being placed where I can hear a whisper, but I still have to be an intentional listener with plenty of discernment time available.

What would happen if we all breathed out what Samuel did once he realized who was talking to him in that dark room where the voice of God woke him up? What would our lives look like if we intentionally spoke out as Samuel did, “Speak, for your servant is listening?”

Much courage and strength are needed to speak those words.

May God grant you that courage and strength, friends.