April 8, 2012

My God's Not Dead

I've been scared to "go public" about something that happened to me the morning of February 19, 2012. The last thing this girl needs is another reason for people to think I'm crazy. But in honor of Resurrection Sunday, and in obedience to my King, I'm just going to do it afraid. (Psalm 27:1)

That weekend, I'd opened my home to a dozen middle-school girls for the annual REVIVE youth event for New Hope church. After two years of telling God "No way." But this year, I found out what I'd been missing. After two days of being used by God in the girls' lives and God using them to encourage me, we gathered with all the other student groups and their families for Sunday service to close the event. The amazing Ben Donnelly band was leading worship, which is always a come to Jesus experience in itself already. Even so, I had no idea my life was about to be forever changed.

In the middle of leading worship, Ben began to pray for God to fall like fire, ignite hearts and wreck our lives so that we would fully surrender to Him and not ourselves. I echoed that prayer, from a sincere and needy heart, on my feet with hands lifted high. I cried out from the overflow of my heart for God to let me feel his presence, to manifest Himself like never before to me. To consume me as a living sacrifice in my body, mind, and soul and to fill me with the Spirit so I could pour out His love and truth to others.

And then it happened.

The words of my silent prayers turned to their heavenly language. As long as I have been a believer, I have never "tried" to pray in tongues. Quite honestly it freaks me out. Its rare, but when my prayer become the Holy Spirit within me and not me, I've learned not to fight it, but surrender to it for as long as the private conversation between God the Father and the Spirit within me will last.

In the edges of my awareness, still on my feet with arms lifted high, head bowed and eyes closed as I continued to pray for God to show up like never before, I sensed Him tell me to get ready. He was coming to pass by me as He did Moses, and He would give me a taste of His glory.

Even as an author, finding words to convey what happened in the moments that followed is still difficult. My entire body began to tremble, from my fingertips to my toes, and heat flooded through me. I tried to stop the shaking in my arms and couldn't. Every part of me felt like it was about to explode, like my body was about to be ripped in two. Looking back, I now understand what Holy terror is, a Holy fear of the presence of God. Part of me wanted it to never end and the other part was begging God to stop because I couldn't take it and knew it could literally kill me any moment.

That was the longest ten seconds of my life.

And when it was over, I opened my eyes, and nothing around me had changed. Ben and the band were still on stage, the room was still filled with people in the low light, but I was absolutely spent and still shaking, this time from exhaustion unlike a moment ago.

I sat down, shaken to my core and rattled beyond reality but able to recognize the incredible gift I'd just received. With silent prayers, I thanked God as coherently as I could manage for revealing a sliver of His true glory and presence to me, and for taking it away before I fell dead. And I would have died, of that I was quite certain. I've had lots of time to meditate on that day and remember that experience, but what I remember strongest in the aftermath is this.
  • Part of the reason we have to physically die is because these bodies made of flesh, that we've corrupted with sin, can't exist in the presence of God. I'd just experienced my physical body trying to run from the glory and presence of God even while my soul tried to latch on tight to its creator. Physical death being necessary to enter the presence of God for those who believe in Jesus Christ made more sense to me than ever before.
  • God's power is so much bigger than I ever knew. I have believed in God and His son Jesus Christ since I was a young girl. I know the bible to be true, and have experienced answered prayer, miracles of signs and wonders that couldn't be anything other than God, and known His comfort and compassion through the Holy Spirit inside me and in others, and never doubted my God is real or that the Word of the Holy Bible is God's inspired truth. My faith is built on that truth, and was never in question. But had it ever been, that moment the morning of February 18th would have laid waste to any doubt God is real, His power is real, and He knows exactly who and where we are every moment.
What I don't know is why God doesn't give that experience to everyone who believes in Him through Jesus Christ, or why He chose me for that gift. I know the Holy Spirit has carried me through some dark valleys and led me to some mountain tops the past three years I've been believing in faith for a big, crazy miracle, but never anything like that morning. And honestly, once was enough to last me the rest of my life, like seeing the movie the Passion of the Christ.  I know that I have been in the presence of God the Father, and am now and forever grateful that God allowed me to experience that and that I lived to tell about it. I wasn't sure I was supposed to share it at first, and I didn't want to. But the longer I know God, and drink, eat, and breathe His great love for me, the more I want to return that love in obedience. (John 14:23-24)

So I have finally told my story. To honor my now and future King, Jesus Christ, who came to the earth as a man, suffered and died to atone for my sin and the sin of the world, and rose again on the third day where He sits at the right hand of God. Today more than any other day we celebrate His resurrection, and the miracle of the gift of salvation. I'm a simple girl, with simple words and a simple faith, but can tell you with absolute conviction in every shred of my existence that my God is real. For me, "My God's Not Dead" is no longer just a great song. It's an anthem for my life, and I can attest to its truth. That my God's not dead, He's surely alive, and He's living on the inside, roaring like a lion. And for that, Lord, I remain unworthy, in awe, and grateful beyond measure.

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