He's Good, Y'all
Last year, I was at the end of myself. I'd felt God calling, and I sensed He was trying to break through to me. I knew He was telling me this season of my life was going to change. I thought it just had something to do with my job.
So, I began praying and reading the Bible every day and seeking Him. I resolved and committed to Him in prayer that I was going to completely trust His promises and who He says He is in His Word, even when (and especially when) my feelings didn't align. I decided to stop filtering His Word through the broken lens of my own preferences, presuppositions, and past. And He started speaking to me more.
I'd always struggled with tithing. Despite all of the sermons, I'd heard over the years, it never made sense to me. Because I'd committed to believe what God says, I obeyed and began tithing. I handle our budget, and I honestly have no idea how it has been working – but it has worked. I can't explain it. In turn, this boosted my resolve to know more about Him. He started speaking to me even more.
In my prayer life, I prayed and prayed that he would give me wisdom, discernment, a thirst for righteousness, a genuine love for people, a renewed desire to worship Him, eyes that see and seek His kingdom more than anything on this side of eternity. I would quite literally beg God for these things and weep. That guy driving and crying all of the way to work? That was me.
At one point, I read Revelations 3:14-22 and realized that lukewarm, self-satisfied, religious churchgoer had been me, and I shuddered. I realized that my relationship with the Lord had been one of attempting to check all the right boxes and forcing myself to make the right choices. I discovered that I'd been little more than a convert – not a disciple. I had the yoke of religion, not love. Because the motivations of my heart were wrong, I had not been acting out of genuine obedience motivated by our relationship. I had been deceived. The Holy Spirit convicted me, and I repented. I praised God for showing me the truth. Now my desire to please God comes from the overflow of His work in my heart, not out of some sense of the acceptability of my own righteousness, which is like filthy rags.
For so long, I'd been asking God, "What's the big picture for my life?" And then He planted two words directly into my heart that changed everything. He simply answered "I am."
It was as though scales fell off of my eyes. In an instant, I realized that the big picture is that He, the God of the universe loves me and wants to spend time with me – even though I'm nothing and He is everything. I saw that the big picture isn't some distant thing somewhere out there for me to discover; the big picture is right here, right now in this personal relationship as He reveals Himself. I saw that the big picture is His awesome, perfect love. I saw that the big picture is that He has forgiven me, has adopted me, cares for me perfectly, and wants me to share his love with others so that they can know Him – and the desire to share His love with others is a natural byproduct of the overflow of my experience of His love in my life.
In my worship life, I had been cold. I could see the conviction in the faces of others at church as they and sang with their eyes and hands lifted up to God, and I would wonder what I was missing. Occasionally, I would feel a twinge of emotion that I mistook for genuine worship, but I would mostly leave church largely unaffected and sometimes feeling more empty than when I arrived. And God showed me that real worship is more than just singing pretty songs with your hands up. It's a disposition of the heart that comes from a right relationship. I saw that I can worship God through everything I do! As a result, I've become hungrier and hungrier for Him, just wanting to spend time in His presence.
I felt that He wanted me to apply to go on a mission trip to a place I never thought I'd go, so I did. And then I found out that I was on the team. I started spending a lot time in the Word and reading books about missions. I hadn't read that much in years. God kept putting exactly the right things in front of me at exactly the right time. It was astonishing.
And I found that I was getting this incredible, overwhelming desire to be a disciple maker. I wanted that to be the primary job that I identify with – not just the job that I do to support my family. I didn't know where or how God was going to use this desire, yet, but I was trusting that He would.
One morning, driving to work, I found that I wasn't crying or begging. Instead, I was praising God, singing along with Bethel Music's "We Will Not Be Shaken" at the top of my lungs and reflecting on all of the prayers that God had answered. As soon as I arrived at the office, I received a text message from Alison with this passage:
Psalm 13:6, "I’ve thrown myself headlong into your arms — I’m celebrating your rescue. I’m singing at the top of my lungs, I’m so full of answered prayers." (MSG)
He's good, y'all.
God is good.