Frolicking with God in the Middle East

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Joel and I have written ‘off the grid’ about our adventures in the Middle East for three months followed by spending the holidays in Puerto Rico and now we’re writing again to announce “We’re heading back!” GOING BACK        That’s right, in … Continue reading

Relationship

Ya know how sometimes you listen to wisdom and it benefits you, and then there are other times when you don’t and you end up going down a mutli-year journey of not listening to wisdom only to find out that that truth is still true but now its burned into your heart through experience, and hopefully you won’t be too dense to forget it too quickly anytime soon?  This is a story of one of those.

 

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I think sometimes the most vulnerable times in my mind are sometimes when I spend time with the Lord.  Looking back I think over the course of some years I grew calloused in my personal interaction with the holy spirit in hopes to avoid some pit of confusion or condemnation, both of course concerning religious thoughts even, for example, theological uncertainty amidst opposing schools of thought in my mind such as, personal doubt based on insecurities in my performance before God, or contrarily my arrogance in entirely ignoring my spiritual performance before God believing only on that of his son not opening up myself for dialogue about it to protect myself from the afore mentioned accusations, along with the lack of spiritual aperture to be able to keep it all afoot in my mind, casting blame towards myself in that if I was really spiritual and tight with God I wouldn’t be having any of these intellectual roundabouts.

 

Unfortunately the affect of this disclarity and self-accusation was an almost removed protection in my prayer times with the Lord.  I came to take great comfort in the work of Christ and the declaration of his goodness over all of humanity because that gave peace to my soul and confidence before God.  I know this might sound peculiar and odd to some but it was almost as if I was positioning myself in comfort with a theological viewpoint rather than in God himself.

 

I took safety in my relating to someone else’s conceptual soundness of God’s nature and that worked for me for a time.  But as time passed I could feel unrest in the heart of me and I would think it’s because I’ve forgotten the truth:  the truth about who God is, the truth about who I am, and I would once again almost methodically remind myself of these truths to bring comfort.  While this is good, for me, it was still lacking.  It was as if I had lost relationship with God and positioned myself hiding behind the concept of his goodness for protection, which worked…but didn’t.  I was still missing out on the reason I was created.  Let me continue.

 

As time passed I grew in the freedom of these truths I was learning, both in identity and experience but my one on one relational interaction with the Lord had somehow faded.  I was no longer surviving on a tough mission field wrestling against principalities–because he called me to rest from that–and afterwards I guess there was recovering time to be had in my relationship with the Lord after what I had made our interaction out to be and the pendulum swung the opposite way.  If God wasn’t breaking strongholds and releasing strong prophetic acts in the earth and ministering powerful words through me to people and I needed a break from all that, what was left of he and I?  On the other side of that, if I’m at complete rest and nothing depends on me because he’s all sovereign and powerful and in control and I can completely rest in him in retirement what purpose remains left in the exchange?  To what purposes have I reduced our intimacy to?

 

And so with this ominous void of recreational communication in our relationship, the doubt about ‘us’ would come around all the while I knew with certainty my unshakeable position that Christ had obtained for me.  It was almost as if I always knew we were legally married but had lost intimacy of our enjoyment of one another as people and the shared experience of this life together, except as silent shipmates or something.  Don’t get me wrong, the gratefulness was always there, the wisdom was sometimes there, the comfort was there, but face time was still missing.  As I continue to live this life, more and more I’m discovering God relentless and unconditional goodness despite my end of participation in this relationship.

 

And so in this season in my relationship with him, his abounding goodness continued in full force.  It continued to confirm to my mind who he was, but it was almost as if there was a lack of connection of the heart.  And in this, life continues.  Can anybody relate to this?  I know I’ve heard at least one person say to me, ‘I remember what it felt like when I was experiencing the Lord more back then…what happened?’

 

Another contributing factor to this felt internal distance was pride on my part, even though I could see it was there.  Where the directions you keep looking lie to you and make you feel like you well off with God.  I already knew I knew nothing, I already comprehend my comparative nothingness in light of everything that it generous and extravagant being God himself.  I at least I thought I was well off enough in that line of thought. 

 

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Turns out God doesn’t care if I know right answers, even though he taught us them.  God doesn’t care if we think we know right answers when we obviously haven’t even barely begun to know anything really.  Although God continually relates to me as my teacher, and the disciples never graduated from being disciples, he doesn’t care that about my accumulated experiences with him.  He doesn’t care if I’m still being faithful and loving people well and whether I’m using the giftings he’s trained me to use.  All of this means nothing to him. 

 

He continues to be good, he continues to be faithful, he continues to show up on my behalf, but there’s so much more that what I’ve made it.  There so much less that matters when it comes to his heart than we seemingly radical believing empowered christains have made it out to be.

 

Relationships are just humility and dependency.  Independence–which is a reactionary weakness of mine that finds it way into my relationship with God is a false form of protection and comfort.  Thankfully he’s ballsy enough in our relationship to shake that for me.  Because our experience has taught us such, so often we try so hard for so long to do things on our own; even when it comes to our relationship with God, our interaction with him, and our expectations of ourselves as well as of him.  Sometimes this creates some aspects of a relationship with God that has become sterile, formal, ritualistic, or stale, even in the midst of powerful corporate experiences.

 

Interacting with God is not about work.  Let me say that one more time.  Interacting with God is not about work.  Relationship is just being yourself with someone.  Giving them enough credit to be honest with them without any pretense or predisposed concept of who they really are without giving them a chance to show you or tell you who they are.  God is really good at interacting with us as adults even when we’re acting like children.

 

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Humility involves recognition of need.  I think its one thing in your mind when you know that you could absolutely do nothing without God and then its another thing when humility is walked out in the way in which you dialogue with the Lord himself.  Spending time with him, being vulnerable, listening, communicating need, asking questions, being teachable, discussing the painful stuff and actually listening rather than reacting out of emotion–all these things flow naturally out of humility before God.

 

After my brief years of doing life with God I think I’ve come to appreciate a hearty dose of perseverance and steadfastness and resolve in protecting connectivity with the Lord regardless of anything; not letting discouragement or accusation or confusion or distraction keep me from coming and being with him.  He has always been and will always be for me.  Always.

 

Let’s move fears out of the equation.  Your relationship with God is not looming and threatening to end resulting in eternal destruction.  He’s not going to reject you.  He is good and will continue to be good.  There’s no whirlwind of justifications, excuses, memories or enemies.  But the wonderful part I’ve discovered about our existence in this journey of mine is that I was created to experience love.

 

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I was not created to know of it, I was not created to experience it at one time, I was not create for a one time event of salvation, I am created with a need to experience the ongoing relationship with a living God that expresses love for me and towards me in an active and ever present way and reality.  Nothing less will do in this life.  It’s okay to need to be loved.  He wants to spend time with me.  He wants it.  I still have things to be taught, I still have things to learn.  But even the purpose of learning is not about obtaining the answer, which is good, its about the experience of exchange.  For in the giving, is the receiving of love.

 

The most vital thing you can give someone your in relationship with is your attention.  Withholding it simply not doing relationship.  Relationships require time and space for them to happen.

 

I get to participate in union.  I get to choose it.  At one point God referred to Psalm 81:9 with me, ” You must never have a foreign God; you must not bow down before a false God.”  I asked him to clarify his point to me at the time and he said that’s when you ‘run to someone or somewhere else for comfort other than me.’   He’s so good at being our everything, he wants us to experience nothing disappointingly less than himself.

 

And so, his mercy’s are new every morning.  This was one of my journey’s that took too long to be reminded of but have found solace in his relentless pursuit of reminding me of what he and I are all about.  He’s loves loving me and it’s not some concept in order to form a workable theology around.  He enjoys relationship with me and his best for me is my daily face to face experience of that with himself.  It’s what I’ve been made for, its what I’ve been saved for, and it’s the joy of my waking reality.  My only strength is found in him.  Peace.

 

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Can I tell you a story…a love story?

I’m super excited to tell you this story.  I’m even more excited that it’s my story.  :)

 

As some of you know, for years I lived in Cairo, IL, tiny poor town in the middle of nowhere that’s like one big housing project that God loves immensely for almost all of my twenties.  I encountered God and his love here through people, prayer, and encounter more than I ever maybe had before during these long often times stretching years.  

 

Obviously I wasn’t in town to find me a husband. Don’t get me wrong, I was asked to be married but often it was by a man with a paper bagged bottle in his hand on a bike.  Ahh, how romantic my life has been.  :)

 

Occasionally a man that loved Jesus would interact with me over the phone for a brief period.  Sometimes they needed mothering, sometimes they were trying me on, sometimes they were just lonely.  During these interactions I would ALWAYS talk to the Lord about them to know what to do with my heart.  He would ALWAYS say the same thing.  “Do you trust me?”  I would overwhelming reply completely enveloped in his love already and say, “Yes.”  And then he would always follow with, “Then wait.”   And because I believed him, I would.

 

Years passed.  The Lord continued to interact with me over what my future looked like and he would share with me things he would desire me to dream about with him.  Mostly involving nations and people groups and speaking and sharing God’s love.  I saw churches, stages, planes, oceans and islands pass through my mind as I slept in this little place I lived in.

 

Then it happened.  Through entirely different story for an entirely different day, I took my first trip alone with Jesus to the nations.  I met a group of people I’ve never met and danced in the amazon jungle with children would’ve never seen roads and swam with Parana’s one of the largest river tributary in the world.  It was then the Lord began to speak of someone who would come alongside me in these adventures.  I remember I painted the number two that kept floating through my mind then and if you look back, you’ll see whispers of it, I titled my writing for that trip PAIR-OO instead of Peru.

 

More trips happened, more people were met, I got to hug more people and shine on them through my face the overwhelming love of the father.  I continued to see 222’s wherever I would go.  I don’t mind seeming silly or crazy.  Love is the language of the exchange of the father and I.  And then came Malta.  Even then I shared of my heart and God’s gentle restoration of hope and redemption of memories in my life.  He imparted me the desire for all that he has been dreaming over my life.  The license plates there are super cheap to personalize and have three numbers and 222’s surrounded me like a swarm of bee’s.  There are more whispers of promise the Lord spoke to me concerning that place and time but I will leave it as such for now.

 

Two years prior my spiritual dad and another spiritual mom of mine told me during conversations that I would meet my husband as I traveled in the nations.  I’m so good at waiting. And I LOVE surprises.  They make life so much FUN.

 

That brings us up to this past fall.  I got the privilege of interacting with a certain young man for a short season who helped me once again see myself in context of relationship without ever engaging in one with him.  He was speaking to me that I may meet someone in Mexico or Malta already doing what I love to do.  Initially he had a hard time believing that someone like me could hope to do relationship living the lifestyle I live but then that led me to discovering.

 

I OVERWHELMINGLY became certain that I could and would choose to dare to dream for relationship that God had been leading me towards without compromising who I was or how God made me.  I wrote that man a two page letter that I will also post on here.  It’s called “Living the Dream.”  In it I speak of traveling to the nations and being a mouthpiece for God’s love and goodness.  I see ministry in power but without position; the kingdom through relationships without titles; oh–and the nations, my love for traveling and the nations.  

 

I discovered that I would continue to dare to dream the impossible and that God delights in making it reality.  Cue the email sent out by John Crowder for our Mexico trip.  I peruse the participants.  One sticks out in particular.  The man I had talking to in the fall and myself wonderfully parted ways one day and when I hung up the phone from that conversation I checked my facebook and this certain someone from the Mexico trip had just asked to be my fb friend.  It was as if I went from holding one hand to another without putting my phone down.

 

As New Years happens I’m watching video of this Mexico-trip-man on youtube and dialogue-ing with the Lord about him.  Let me fill you in on what we were talking about. In the past, men have often interacted with me for my ability to ‘help’ them, encourage them, etc. and I didn’t want that to be the case again in causing someone to like me.  The way the Lord began talking with me was different from others and I noticed.  He said, “Don’t worry.  You won’t have to open your mouth.  I’m going to show him your ways.”

 

Over the course of days the dialogue continued.  I was confessing to the Lord I didn’t necessarily feel safe yet even though I had never met the man and the Lord said, “You haven’t seen the way he sees you yet.”  The Lord encouraged me by talking about leading me into green pastures, etc, opening my mouth to speak publicly in this season, etc.

 

I land in Mexico.  My luggage doesn’t come, my card doesn’t work, I have no make-up on and am still in my 20-hour flight clothes.  Completely disarmed, cue introductions. :)    Completely effortless; nothing to earn, nothing to maintain, no pretending, no hiding.  The first day we free before meetings and ministry started and groups of us hung out, Joel being around me for the first time as I watched, listened and observed.

 

It was always so comfortable, so familiar, so safe, so peaceful.   Without hanging out individually yet, Joel said God led him to buy me a journal before he came on this trip.  He gave it to me as a gift and wrote inside of it.  I will share a line with you. “I love how you are wild and free like a bird who was let out of its cage.  I know that you will never settle for less than freedom. ‘Not all who wander are lost’.”

 

As the first days unfolded I continued to watch and God continued to speak.  My mind raced a bit and he said, “See him with my eyes Heather.”  I felt the overwhelming love of the father and the celebration of his dad.  The hopes of God as Joel’s heavenly father and the dreams of his heart concerning this son.  As I was doing something else completely in a meeting I was wondering about all this that was happening and at the same time a doubt crept in about it and it was immediately interrupted by the Lord with, “I made you for Joel Heather.”  I was like, “I don’t even know if my theology agrees with that statement!” And at the same time the fruit of it was that it stilled my fears and reestablished peace within me.

 

The second day of ministry I got to preach.  It was the day captured in my photo album.  To kids and parents and it LOVED it.  I LOVE it.  We were going around letting the kids know to come at two o’clock.  Come at two o’clock.  The next day we went to a soup kitchen.  Again I was invited to speak and share of God’s love for these people and what’s he done and what’s he’s really like.  Usually the soup kitchen opened at 1:30 but for this particular day, again, it was at two.  The third day I was invited to speak at a woman’s prison.  OH MY GOSH I GET SO EXCITED ABOUT THIS STUFF.  I ABSOLUTELY LOVE looking into the faces of these tough women and melting their fears away about God’s strength and power and his desire for them and their value and worth.  Guess what time I got to share the gospel again this third day?  Two o’clock.

 

And then, at just the right time, after the preaching of the gospel at 222, Joel came into my life.  That night he dared.  Was I too capable, and independent, and free, or did I want something more. That night Joel put flowers outside my hotel room door while I was out and walked me home that night to discover them there.  He said (and later told me he felt like it was the Lord speaking through him) “I gave you something beautiful because you deserve beautiful things.”

 

As I tried to put the flowers in my hotel room sink with water in it, the drain was broken.  The water kept draining out.  I was getting frustrated by it and the Lord interjected, “Don’t hold on to the flowers, hold on to him.”

 

We looked for a place to hang out.  There was a second floor with a number of large unused rooms.  We walked into one that night, it was Friday  and it was set up for a wedding the next day.  The chairs all empty in rows, the tables set, and the overlooking balcony windows aglow in the night sky overlooking the city.  And there in the front we talked, there in the front we shared, and there in the front we met one another that night.

 

Our introduction and meeting has never been just about the two of us.  God always has been and continues to weave in the preaching of the gospel and the freedom of nations into our exchange; their glorious liberty and joy and peace is the song of Joel and I’s exchange.  When we met, everyone yet to come to hear God’s good news through our lives was the dream alive within our hearts.  I see God doing all this between Joel and I but its not just for us.  Don’t get me wrong, I get to enjoy every minute of the ride, but the reason I get jacked up is all the fun and glory and love yet to come that WE GET TO SHARE WITH THE WORLD TOGETHER through our lives.  How can the best things in my life continue to get better?  This is too much fun.

 

For those of you that know me but not Joel, I will share you with you that he has grown up knowing his life is not his own, has encountered God from a young age, and dreams of both the nations and the individual being introduced to and encountering the tangible love of God.  In our exchange with one another he empowers my freedom, my dreams, my traveling, my speaking, my existing, my painting, my creating, and me just simply being me.

 

As we interacted over those last few days on the trip Joel, without knowing it, continued to nail the main points I had made in that two-page commitment to dreaming I had written back in November.  And all my fears were stilled.  It wasn’t rhetorical when I wrote that Joel is my dream come true.  I dared to dream uncompromisingly with Jesus and God’s good pleasure is releasing it into my life.  As I rested my head on Joel’s shoulder maybe the second to last day, the Lord said, “this is the green pasture I was talking about leading you into.”

 

The last night some of our ministry team went to a crazy mexican wrestling match.  After buying a cold one and some snacks to share, Joel and I sat down together with our team before this fight began, looked at each other smiling and thought the same thing, “Our lives are going to be too much fun together.”

 

Believe it or not, this is only some of this story, only some of God’s goodness and communication, and only some of the greatness of my hopes and anticipations.  

 

I trust Him.  And I will wait.  :)  

 

love you family.  thanks for listening to our story.  the story of Us.  this is just the beginning…