I stared at the screen in disbelief. Surely this was some sort of junk email that somehow made it’s way into my inbox. The words described someone else. They didn’t sound at all like me, but I looked again, and indeed it had my name and email address on the header. None of what I read was truth, and I certainly didn’t remember the step where the writer asked me if it was true before they wrote it. That part seemed to be completely passed over and now we were in a land of assumption and meanness. I probably will never be quite sure what prompted such things to be said over me and about me, but this wasn’t my first rodeo with being the brunt of someone’s hurt, so I decided to count to ten before I, in turn, said things I could never take back, and remembered that in my darkest, most hurtful, and lonely times, I, too, have said things that pierced to the core of the receiver. I’ve used innocent people as punching bags with my words, so I decided to start working through all of this from that place. I’ve yet to meet a person that ever loves it when the worst is assumed over them. It never feels very good, but more and more it seems the common thing to do. We question if that text really meant what it sounded like it meant. We assume someone is mad at us if they pass us without speaking. We assume that we didn’t get invited to the party because they just don’t like us. We assume a lot of things because it almost seems easier. Lysa TerKeurst once wrote, “Truth is the only healthy place from which to speak. Assumption is the birthplace of Godless chatter.” What I know as truth that day long ago was that the words gave no semblance of being God-breathed, despite coming from God’s child. What I didn’t anticipate was just how God would use that moment to break me free from a wrong way street I’d been walking down.
The events of that day long ago led me to an even longer awaited breaking point just this past summer. Our family was given a six week sabbatical from the church where we serve, and going in I had some very intentional goals to be purposeful in spending time with family and friends, to pour my heart into making our home a place of rest, and to read as many books and spend as much time in God’s word as possible. My days began to take on the shape of blocked off time reading, and soon it became grabbing every free moment to just be in God’s word, so much so that I found myself craving it. Loving His word is not something I’ve ever taken for granted, but it was the rest my soul had been craving. Just days before our time off started, our church began singing a song called, “Holy Ground” by Passion. Immediately the words caused me to cry. I felt a stirring in me that I didn’t understand. I knew I went into this time somewhat broken by these words long ago spoken over me and about me, that I was not experiencing an abundant life, that to some regard, I just couldn’t trust people or God completely. It was as if I woke up each day on the brink, but on the brink of what? I began to listen to the song everyday, sometimes multiple times. Each time the same lyrics pierced my heart. “Chains fall, fear bow” and “In wonder and surrender we fall down” particularly moved me. I’ve always found music a powerful influence on me, and this was no exception. I was in the mode of read Bible, listen to the song, read books about God, listen to song, repeat, and each time chunks of a wall around my heart were knocked down.
It was during this time that God began to reveal some powerful truths to me. Just as I’ve always struggled to trust people, I became painfully aware that I could trust Him only so far. I felt He was specifically calling me to completely surrender my health to Him – all of the questions I’ve had for 14 years of wondering why I get so sick, of the actual pain I lived in, of being okay to not have a diagnosis, and even to stop caring that when most people look at me they don’t see a sick person because I won’t let people see that part of me completely. He moved me to the wonder and surrender part to fall down and let it go. I believed -REALLY believed- for the first time that He will heal me. I have never had that kind of peace regarding my health. I found that surrender feels good, and that doesn’t make sense to me because it requires letting go of all control. I had to let go of how I had allowed people to affect me, again knowing I can’t control words spoken over me, or thoughts assumed about me. I could only be the best me He was asking me to be. It’s hard to explain the work of God on our lives sometimes because it is so personal and unique to us. I see everyday that it is not always understood, and even when others take notice of the Holy Spirit changing our lives, they are also looking for every reason to call us out when we fall…and we will fall because…flesh!
Since I’ve been back in my everyday, not one week has passed that I haven’t been tempted to question what God spoke to me. I’ve been sick every single week worse than I have in a very long time. I have been tempted to allow people to control how I really see myself. I’ve wanted to put many things above spending time with God. I cannot, however, give in to any of my temptations and doubts without Him and His power. You see, the work of God may manifest itself in specific ways, like in the things He specifically spoke to me regarding my health and trust, but the real work is what He has revealed to me since.
In our church we’ve just concluded a series of month long revival services. I can’t remember a time in my life that I’ve seen God move more in the hearts of men and women. The life change I’ve witnessed can only be explained as GOD. Despite every effort by the enemy to distract, destroy, bring division, and minimize what God can do, I’ve been keenly aware that corporate revival will only be a big deal to you if you have experienced personal revival. Those moments that no one is around and your are on your knees listening more than you are talking to Him. Those days you cling to His word to sustain you and change you. Those hard situations that should never display peace to what the world would call peace, but you know Who is really in control. I’ve lived that. I know that. I do not write these words as a way to brag, but they come from a place of shame that I’ve lived so many more opportunities for revival with me as the center of my world. Back in May I spoke at our church about taking an overwhelmed life and exchanging it for an abundant one. I thank God that He had to speak that to me before I could ever speak it to others. That day seems like a prepping for the work He would do in my heart weeks later. Because I’m human, I know that moments may come that my eyes veer to the left or right of me, my gaze no longer on His face. The grief that brings me feels sickening. I don’t want old Amy. I want to keep tasting the full life.
When revival is personal to you, when you look at your life and the changes are explained as ONLY GOD could do that, it will blow your mind to have your eyes opened to just all He is doing around you in others’ lives. It’s beautiful. Revival could only happen in me because of repentance. It wasn’t because of all of the spiritual activity I filled my days doing. They positioned me in a right posture, but it is what I did with the power of the words I read in the scripture that led me to true repentance and surrender. I confessed my lack of trust in the One whom my soul trusted many years ago as her Savior. I confessed my bitterness and anger that God had not healed my physical body. I confessed the way I had hurt others with my own words because of my own hurt. Walls finally began to fall that had taken years to build. I no longer feel the same. In these days when physical sickness seems to pervade my every thought and take my very strength, it’s an unfamiliar and steadfast peace in the very core of my soul that seems to now scream louder than my doubts ever did when those moments came in the past.
I will carry it, Lord, if it brings people closer to you. I will carry it if it brings you more glory. When I have no control over my health, the words spoken over me by others, the unexpected trials that come my way, I can control my choice everyday to be filled by You.
Wake up everyday, choose Him, allow His word to be the heart changer, and you will see chains fall, fear bow, because at the end of that song that spoke so much truth to me, it’s these words that cover it all and are the only power we will ever need…it’s because
“Jesus changes everything.”
How personal has He become to you? Personal revival always precedes a corporate one. Let Him revive what has become dead in you. A step toward surrender is the best step you will ever take.