This past weekend Matthew and I traveled to Nashville, TN and Atlanta, GA. We agree that wrapped up in the trip was possibly the most significant day of our lives. But before I get to that…
In my last post, The Ebb of Expectation, I shared about expectations in regard to relationships. Well, for many, it takes us awhile before we learn the lessons God is teaching. This includes my husband and me.
We set out on the road to Nashville and began a quiet time which rolled into worship which rolled into asking the Lord to guide our exchange. God quickly pointed us in a specific direction and we spent the next few hours in fellowship with our Rabbi, Yeshua HaMoshiach.
Our destination was the home of wonderful friends and Kingdom partners. These friends inspire us with their creativity and perseverance. Above all, and perhaps most important, they make us laugh.
The evening we arrived we had a wonderful dinner and the next morning went promptly to the Dickens of a Christmas Festival in Franklin, TN. It was extremely cold but we enjoyed seeing the town, artists, treats, and performances. We returned to their home for some warm-up and down time before our evening plans. Since we were so filled with the spirit of Christmas we watched The Santa Clause 2. As the Lord would have it, the movie spoke to us. First, it reminded us that seeing is believing. Second, it reminded us that for those who are called to marriage, they cannot be what they are called to be without their spouse.
The takeaways from the movie warmed our hearts and prepared us for an evening we had been looking forward to for some time! It was a gathering for those involved with the Nashville House of Prayer (NHOP) which is led by Bob Perry of Simple Prayer Ministries. Bob and his team truly opened their hearts to create a night of appreciation and impartation for all those who provision #praynashville and NHOP through prayer, time, and resources.
What can be said about 300 people who have dedicated themselves to prayer coming together in one room? Only that the Holy Spirit was deeply present, divine appointments and words abounded, and the sweet fragrance of thanks and praise rose up as the heavens opened above us.
The morning following the gathering we attended Conduit Church with our host family. It was a beautiful marriage of Kingdom pursuit and traditional trappings. The pictures here are views from the church and inside the church. From the church a flock of birds covered the adjacent field and would lift off, moving like a flowing garment with the wind above. Inside the church a group of precious little ones sang Hallelujah to our King!
The next leg of our journey took us to Atlanta, GA. We had a beautiful drive and arrived in time for dinner with another set of wonderful friends. This was my first time meeting this particular couple. In that, I am not sure I have ever stepped into a new place and have it feel so much like home. It helps that the couple is the age my parents would have been. Upon arrival I was immediately set down to a robust gingerbread construction site and given encouragement to build at will. On top of that, their nursery (the room we stayed in) contained prime artifacts from my childhood (including, but not limited to, The Beginners Bible, The Boxcar Children series, Fisher Price plastic skates, and Lincoln Logs).
As we visited and ate dinner the Mother of the house decided to read us a bedtime story before we retired for the evening. She read The Orphan Keeper’s Assistant from the Kingdom Tales Trilogy. The story deals with the orphan spirit in the Kingdom and it touched each of us uniquely. Oh the narration…! Oh the symbols…! Oh the heart draw…! It was the perfect preparation for what God had planned for the following day.
12/12/16 was great and terrible (Nehemiah 4:14). There was a divine clash of breaking and rising. The happenings of the day included the glory of God fueling four hours of prophetic outpouring. Just like the heavens opened at the NHOP gathering, we again found ourselves humbled in God’s presence, hearts overflowing with thanks and praise. Every part of us was lifted high, our vision, our spirits, our hearing, our peace, our joy…Because of this day, the time had emerged as the trip of a lifetime!
In the same glorious vein, Matthew and I also experienced an acute humbling. Though we were on a divine trip, during God’s outpouring our pride had to fall. In the midst of tears, confusion, and the fear of losing a marriage I only just received, God taught me the most profound lesson about salvation I have ever learned.
We were less than a mile or so from home. Matthew was behind the wheel, despondent and exhausted while I sat numbly defeated in the passenger seat. I wearily searched my heart for the grace I daily receive from God and found none. There was a blockage in both of us. We were at an impasse.
As we both wrestled with our own short comings and found ourselves in one of those “make or break” moments, God’s light mercifully flickered in a space that had become suddenly very dark.
In a moment, the Spirit revealed that when two become one flesh in a God-sanctioned covenant, sin no longer belongs solely to the individual.
Prior to this moment, as a Christian, I had a deeply personal understanding of salvation through Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. During my walk the Holy Spirit has given me specific insight around what it means to take on the sins of another and bring iniquities to the cross (generationally, in familial relationships, in intercession, etc.) I had an understanding of what it meant to carry the burden of another and even sacrifice on another’s behalf. Grace had been present and bountiful in countless prior circumstance which invited it. Nonetheless, God’s merciful insight in this moment took things to a whole new level. Never before had I come face to face with a part of myself that struggled to find grace for another. I had to ask myself why.
There was a fundamentalism inside me our situation jarringly exposed. I believed that my husband, a long-time lover of God, should be perfect in certain areas. Not all areas, but certain areas…especially those where the deepest deliverance had occurred in my own life. This belief hid itself in the shadows of “almost complete” love and acceptance. Before this conditional love was highlighted I trusted my opinions, like many of us…Of course there are obvious things good people shouldn’t and don’t do. More than that, there are Christian virtues and values to be upheld. Beyond that, there is a list of spiritual fruit that should be evident in the life of one who walks with the Lord. Ahhhh the slippery slope of perfectionism, pride, and judgment…
It took over seven days for my husband’s faithful confession (he had made the week before) to expose a pocket of blindness in my beliefs, drill through my hardness of heart, and knock me off a throne of self-righteousness.All I could do was weep, wait, and let God do His work in my heart.
I could write volumes (and I may in the future) on what happened in that moment, how I am coming to understand it, and what has happened because of it. But the most important thing is that in a moment, I learned more about grace than possibly my entire life. God intimately demonstrated that my need for the new mercy of Christ in all areas. In that, I am learning that inevitably the path of grace leads to humility. Only the One whose name is Grace has the purity of heart to offer it freely to all no matter what we have done or what is hiding inside.
“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Corinthians 12:9