It’s been a while since I have sat down to write much besides the simple journaling I do. When I started this blog, I was committed to not writing if I didn’t feel like I really had something to say. And the past year has been such a year of growth for me, that I finally feel ready to share a huge lesson God has graciously taught me.
This year, I was privileged to join a Worship Leader Co_hort in Chicago led by Vertical Worship at Harvest Bible Chapel. I know there is a lot of controversy surrounding Harvest currently, but the Vertical team with humbleness and expertise took the time to continue having us and teaching us 4 times throughout the year. While the people I met, and the things I learned will be with me forever, the lesson I really learned this year is that God loves me. I know that seems so simple and almost trivial of a lesson to learn at 35 years old, working in ministry, and being in church all my life. But it has nothing short of changed my life.
At the first session of the Co_hort in January, Andi Rozier asked us to pick a word that we wanted to define this year. The word I wrote down was “Loved.” I wrote it because I didn’t believe it, and I really wanted to believe it. I realized that many of my struggles, some being significant, were based from the lie that I could not possibly be fully loved by God. This was a subconscious lie I believed almost all my life. Meaning, I did not even realize I believed it. Until I did. While telling people, “It’s not our works that gain us favor with God,” I believed that they did – because that’s what my life showed. It’s a huge reason I kept constantly messing up or disappointing people or disappointing myself.
“God can’t possibly love ALL of me. Sure, He loves me (that’s what they say). But only the parts of me that are good. Not the messed up parts.”
Friends, can I just say that believing this meant that I never felt fully free. I felt chained to my sins and not free to live in love for others because of how much I was loved and forgiven.
At the last Co_hort, in November, during a moment of worship, I felt the presence of God in a way I never have before in my life (it’s why I can be so passionate about leading others in heart-felt worship – I just want them to feel that closeness to our Father). And I just knew in that moment, He was speaking love into my life. He was closing all the dark holes in my heart and filling them with His Light. He wanted my attention. And I spent so much time giving my attention to other things. And when I turned my attention to Him, I HEARD Him. I experienced Him. I felt freedom.
I have always loved the word “Awake.” I like the idea that the Spirit can awaken our dead hearts in worship when we ask. “Awake my soul and sing! Of Him who died for me!” The other day, I ran across the verse, “Awake to righteousness, and sin not, for some have not the knowledge of God.” (I Corinthians 15:34). And in that moment, I was like, “Yes! Wake up. Wake up to who you are in Christ and therefore, be free to not be chained to your weaknesses!” We HAVE the knowledge of God. Is that a gift I had been tapping into?
This is best done when we live fully and completely in the beautiful truth that God loves us deeply, truly, and without conditions. We ARE righteous because of His finished work on the Cross. There is nothing left to prove. He is always here, LIVING inside of us. Moving and breathing and working.
Romans 8:1-2 declares, “So now there is NO condemnation for those who belong to Christ Jesus. And because you belong to Him, the power of the life-giving Spirit has freed you from the power of sin that leads to death.”
2 Corinthians 5:19, “For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to Himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them.”
These verses now bring me to my knees in gratefulness. Where before they were verses that I simply thought I believed. He looks on me, here and now, in this moment, and in the next and the next and the next with LOVE. As fully righteous and redeemed. He abolished the law and in turn said, “Love God. And love others.” I believe there is no greater attribute to possess. I am committed to living a life in the pursuit of knowing and living IN God’s love for me and awkwardly and humanly trying my best to love the people He’s put in my life. It’s the only thing that matters.
And this means for me, to love people where they are at. Not where I personally think they should be. We are all moving at different paces. I just want to be the person that listens and loves and gives advice that comes from the Spirit’s work in my own heart.
I decided to write this all out because I feel like it is a lie that the Enemy loves to use to defeat us. That we aren’t loved fully. That there is no way we are truly righteous in His sight. There is a significant change in my life and heart when I believe (I mean really believe) the following:
You prepare a feast for me
in the presence of my enemies.
You honor me by anointing my head with oil.
My cup overflows with blessings.
Surely your goodness and unfailing love will pursue me
all the days of my life,
and I will live in the house of the Lord
He wants us to live a life that believes in His goodness. His unfailing love is pursuing us. He wants all of us. Not just parts of us. And He wants to fill all the dark corners of our hearts with His Light. He wants to.
“If you are filled with light, with no dark corners, then your whole life will be radiant, as though a floodlight were filling you with light.”
If any of us are in need of awakening to righteousness, consider and mediate on the immense love of God for you.
“We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.”
2 Corinthians 5:20-21
I’m attaching a song because, hey, I’m a worship leader. I chose this video because this song has meant so much to me this year. And because the people singing it have a special place in my heart.
With my life laid down
I’m surrendered now.
I give You everything.
Your goodness is running after me.
This is such an encouragement to me that God’s work continues on at HBC in a powerful way. Thank you for sharing.
BTW this is the best kind of “woke” that there is!!!